With the movie coming up, I figured that I would finally read Paper Towns by John Green.
It’s a coming of age book that serves to contrast the personalities of the anxious thinkers, like the protagonist Quentin Jacobsen, and the capricious doers, like his object of affection Margo Roth Spiegelman.
I’m about two-thirds through, and I’m really enjoying the mystery surrounding Margo’s disappearance and the various reactions from the different characters towards the enigma that is her character. I also noticed how John Green uses literature in the form of poetry by Walt Whitman as the backbone of his novel, similarly to the use of a made-up novel in The Fault in Our Stars.
Here’s a teaser, extracting an excerpt from a mini-speech by Margo that includes the title of the book itself:
“It’s a paper town. I mean, look at it, Q: look at all those cul-de-sacs, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses that were built to fall apart. All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm.”
What she’s talking about? Well, you’ll have to read Paper Towns to find out.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.
Where, oh where do I begin with this book? I bought it as a sort of bubble gum-fluffy-cutesy-quick breeze through read, and I wasn’t disappointed on that front. But my problem with this book is, was it really about all the boys she loved before?
I picked up this book hoping to nostalgically reconnect with the sort of crushes my younger self used to have. Instead, I got a heaping of sisterhood. Sisterhood is great and all, and I’ve always enjoyed books on that topic, but I was not expecting that in this book. Han packaged this book to be about cute young crushes when it was really about the protagonist, Lara Jean’s relationship with her older sister and said sister’s unattainable perfection.
Margot, Lara Jean’s big sister, is one of those characters who are supposed to be perfect and meticulous and fastidious and do everything correctly. I only ever got to see her through Lara Jean’s eyes, and Lara Jean basically worshiped the ground she walked for most of the book, which got really boring really fast. Lara Jean obviously idolized Margot and measured herself up against her big sister’s perfection.
I didn’t particularly like Lara Jean or Margot, but I loved their little sister, Kitty. Kitty had an acerbic tongue, which I really enjoyed. She was sharp witted, a little sassy, and a breath of fresh air in a book filled with such stuffy characters.
The actual romance aspect of the book was pretty predictable. However, I did enjoy some really cute parts between Lara Jean and two of the boys she’d loved before. Those gave me what I’d been looking for: adorable, sweet, young teenage crushes. I also liked the way Han developed the relationship between Lara Jean and Peter. I noticed how she basically recycled the camaraderie between Belly and her summer boys from her Summer Trilogy but basically switched the genders to end up with Josh and his Song girls. Somehow, it worked.
I don’t want to give away too much, but I’ll just tell you that if you’re looking for a fluffy bunny romance alone, you’ll be looking for a diamond in the rough.
Melinda is a friendless outcast at Merryweather High. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, and now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. It is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and who is still a threat to her. It will take another violent encounter with him to make Melinda fight back. This time she refuses to be silent.
Speak was not an easy novel for me to get through. Laurie Halse Anderson’s language was viscerally powerful and her metaphors gave me pause countless times. The main character, Melinda Sordino, is a tragically sympathetic character. My heart almost-literally bled for her throughout the whole book. Anderson did a great job of tackling such a triggering subject matter as rape in a piercingly artistic fashion. I was literally seeing the world through Melinda’s eyes, and her story was emotionally tasking to read. I became emotionally invested in her character, and by the time I got to the end, I wept. I wept because Anderson had taken me on an emotional roller coaster ride with Melinda and I didn’t know how to feel when it ended.’
The ostracized Melinda let me in to her inner thoughts with an unceasingly witty internal commentary. She grappled with not speaking, something I could definitely relate with. She closed herself off from the world. Yet, she also grappled with her art project throughout the novel, and by the end, the reader could definitely feel fulfilled that Melinda had found her voice: both literally and artistically.
If there was one thing I took away from this book, it was this: If we don’t express ourselves, we kill ourselves little by little, slowly by slowly, everyday.
If people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time. – Melinda
I just want to sleep. A coma would be nice. Or amnesia. Anything, just to get rid of this, these thoughts, whispers in my mind. Did he rape my head, too? – Melinda
He says a million things without saying a word. I have never heard a more eloquent silence. – Melinda
It wasn’t my fault. He hurt me. It wasn’t my fault. And I’m not going to let it kill me. I can grow. – Melinda
From the author of the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park.
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…
But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
Fangirl has been all the rage for the past year now, so I read it to see what all the fuss was about.
What I found really appealing about it was that the protagonist was very relatable to myself, because she, like me, is a fangirl.
Cath is off to college as a new freshman, and she likes to hole up in her dorm room and write fanfiction. The crazy thing about reading this story is that I felt like I was reading about myself in the future, fast forward a year and a half. I felt myself nodding along with her antisocial personality. Cath was actually living my dream: taking a creative writing class and being favored by the professor as being possibly the best writer there. She was also a serious inspiration for me to take up writing fanfiction again. This book just reminded me of the wonder of producing an entirely new storyline out of characters you love and have already enjoyed reading about.
Now, on to Levi, Cath’s love interest. I think that Levi has actually beat out Augustus Waters for me in being my favorite boy ever in a YA novel. He is everything I enjoy being around: outgoing, nice to everyone, charming, charismatic, and, to top it all off, a smiler. I was totally disagreeing with Cath when she was faulting him for being so nice at first. I loved it!
I feel like Cath and Levi’s relationship was the most real relationship I have actually read in a YA novel. It happened slowly, and not right off the bat. Levi just kind of grew on Cath, and their first kiss was literally the cutest thing I have ever read. I squealed out loud multiple times during the buildup to the kiss. The way Cath got to explore being in love with such a wonderful guy as Levi was heartwarming, and they had their very realistic ups and downs before they even got together.
If you’re looking for a relatable YA book with a very realistic romance, look no further: grab a copy of Fangirl right away!