Review: The Fault in Our Stars

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The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green

★★★½☆

2012 • 313 pages • Dutton Books

The thing about my incredibly long lead time on most media (imposed on me by both library wait lists and my own reticence to do as I am told) is that I get to see both the thing itself and the response to it. When The Fault in Our Stars dropped in 2012, it was hot. White hot. So white hot, in fact, that even while I was working at the Tattered Cover a year later, we could barely keep the damn thing on the shelves. (To be fair, the post-humously constructed Esther Earl memoir This Star Won’t Go Out had just been released, boosting sales.) I still have the occasional waking nightmare of the rickety overstock stacks I had to make over the John Green section in the young adult nook. Tumbling, bright blue, entirely hardcover overstock stacks.

But, to quote The Dark Knight, The Fault in Our Stars has lived long enough to become the villain. Specifically, John Green has. Where he was once recommended to me, he’s, of late, been side-eyed. Some of it is his own behavior—Green’s misjudged breathless declaration that the kiss in the film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars is the first lady-initiated kiss in ALL OF CINEMATIC TEEN ROMANCE, anyone?—but a lot of it is how the work of a cisgendered straight white dude is being used by the mainstream to legitimize young adult fiction. (Which is not his fault, obviously, but is still something to take into account.) This backlash eventually came to his books, especially The Fault in Our Stars. After the film hit, I saw many a tumblrina rolling her eyes at “metaphors,” although I had no idea what they were talking about.

So when I finally got around to reading the darn thing, I was prepared for the worst. After all, I did not care for Will Grayson, Will Grayson, his collaboration with David Levithan, whose work I otherwise enjoy. And fifty pages into it, I may have immediately texted a known Green unfan of my acquaintance that Augustus Waters was a total turd.

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Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

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In August, Marie Rutkoski, the author of next year’s The Winner’s Curse, posited that the reason adults read young adult fiction is that young adult fiction is necessarily fiction of change. “[R]eaders are drawn to stories about first experiences, and YA literature is rich with it,” she says at io9. Reading, as I’ve mentioned to Ana, gives us access to extra lives and lives that we cannot live, and what’s more inaccessible than first experiences? It’s the reason I cherish picking up a story without any spoilers, so my first experience with a text is entirely mine. I think there are more reasons for reading young adult fiction, but Rutkoski’s point is very true.

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The Literary Horizon: Imaginary Girls, The Fault in Our Stars

Is it weird that I associate young adult fiction with presentation as much as with its audience? There’s something about those slim, smooth volumes with appealing cover art that’s so particular to them. Is it because young adults are the new hip audience? Is it because older readers will power through lackluster cover art? I don’t know, but that’s really all that links today’s selections from my bucket of recommendations—they’re young adult fiction and they look gorgeous.

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Review: Geektastic

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd is one of those books I think everyone has read but me, albeit not in the massive numbers as, say, the Millenium trilogy. One of my cousins picked it up from my favorite independent bookstore the last time he visited my stomping grounds, a woman in my writing group read it ages ago, and other book bloggers have picked through it. The arresting cover—I’ve always loved pixel art—is eye-catching and the subject matter definitely appeals to someone who thoroughly identifies as a geek.

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