Paper Towns by John Green

Let’s tackle another John Green novel! If you remember, I read The Fault in Our Stars a month or so ago.  While I’m not a die hard fan, it was an alright novel.  Not so much the more I think about it.  Its incredibly quotable, of course.  I highly doubt I’d go back to reading it though.  However, the trailer of Paper Towns dropped and I saw it a few months ago.  Of course, by now, the movie has gone on the big screen and left it, so I never went to go see the movie but that was my motivation in reading the book.  The trailer was intriguing to say the least.  Its the sort of coming of age adventure that I like to check out.

So here we are with Paper Towns! Let’s see what its all about! 🙂

Paper Towns

by: John Green

Paper Towns

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew… – Goodreads

Goodreads rating: 2/5 stars (I’m just going to open with the ratings now.  I’ll go back and restructure my posts soon.  It seems like a good way to do it.)

I’m pretty lenient and forgiving with novels, especially YA novels.  I probably shouldn’t since Young Adult is this whole new genre with a thousand trending books every year and a lot of it is hyped up for reasons I can’t decipher.  Anyways, point is, I’m stopping this John Green run unless you all tell me there is a book about a thousand times better than anything you have ever read.  He’s really not for me.  Paper Towns was a new level of boring.  I don’t know if its the pacing or the events or just the writing style.  I had an incredibly hard time getting absorbed into the book.  You know how sometimes you are fully aware of the exact thing you are doing in reality, like I’m reading a book sitting in a bus or standing in line baking under heat.  It didn’t whisk me away from reality or even slightly fall in love with the characters.

Paper Towns has a good premise.  Its really not a bad idea.  What does make it not so great is that what started out as an adventure and finding yourself and discovering the whole idea of how everyone has more than their appearances.  Hey kids, that’s life! I’m not the semi sarcastic, semi bubbly enthusiastic person I am on my blog when I’m at work.  I wasn’t like this even when I went to school.  In high school, we join groups and we bend to peer pressure and these things happen.  So, I get this is a young adult novel and its about teenagers which is why I think the premise is commendable.  However, my issue here is the characters and just the course of events. Its not even the believability of it all.  I can get behind the Paper Towns thing and wanting to leave and start fresh, impulse and adventure, wanting to be you and getting away from all that home stuff, even the whole randomly choosing your childhood friend/neighbor who is really more of an acquaintance.  But this book is about clues, chasing down and finding a girl mindlessly.

To be honest, the characters in here were pretty meh.  I mean, Margo was nothing special.  I guess it works because she isn’t supposed to be. She just is because Q thought she was and has this massive crush on her. While Q is actually just a law-abiding citizen.  You know that typical coming of age teenage boy who a spontaneous girl sends on an adventure.  You know one, you know them all.  Except Q is kind of self-centred and very one track mind. His best friends even point that out and he becomes conscious about it and changes. That’s the character development.  Its not even that there isn’t character development but rather its like at some point, Q doesn’t even know why he’s looking for Margo.  It seems like a reflex or is it the desire to feel wanted or to feel important like he’s done something out of the mold of his routine life and wanting normal things? I don’t know what it is. The characters weren’t that appealing.

Don’t even get me started on the ending. Okay, look, I had a much worse ending in my head that if it did happen, I’d have thrown the book into the fireplace and burnt it.  That didn’t happen so I didn’t have to bake myself in my already pretty hot house.  Point is, the ending was still really like: I don’t know how to work in circles around this anymore so lets just draw this to a close.

Overall, not a fan of Paper Towns.  I can’t even see the appeal.  The characters aren’t very special.  The pacing and story is so boring and honestly when you get to the ending, it really feels like you just went on a wild goose chase for absolutely nothing.  I gave it 2 because one, the premise is there.  Its just the execution wasn’t quite there.  Second, there are some few parts that were interesting to read.  The clues after clues was fun here and there and the beginning had a few decent messages about stepping out of ordinary and having adventures but it just kind of fell apart in this slow tiring way. Its sucks to feel this way for a book because I’m not harsh on books and I really wanted to like this one.

Have you read Paper Towns? Are you a John Green fan? What is your favorite book of his?

The Death Cure (Maze Runner #3) by James Dashner

Wow! If anything, these book reviews are falling way behind. It happens when I had more time to read than to write (aka waiting in line for an hour before movies and overshot data on my phone).  I’m about two reviews behind so I’m working hard on getting things back to speed. After The Cuckoo’s Calling (a more grown-up book), I always like to fall back to some YA fiction.  My choice after looking for a while was the next book in the Maze Runner series by James Dashner.  If you missed it, you can check out my review for the previous two below:

#1 The Maze Runner
#2 The Scorch Trials

For a recap, I loved The Maze Runner and enjoyed the Scorch Trials but not quite as much. Not exactly sure what to expect for this one, The Death Cure.  Let’s check this out! 🙂

**If you have not read and finished up to The Scorch Trials, please stop reading as Book 2 reveals are mentioned a little.**

The Death Cure
(The Maze Runner #3)

The Death Cure

by: James Dashner

Thomas gets out of The Scorch Trials and wakes up to find himself locked up by himself in a dark cage.  His meals are delivered to him on time everyday as he loses track of time.  When they finally release him, he learns about WICKED and the lines between who is on his side or not is getting blurry.  Is WICKED good? While they took away all his memories, he starts remembering more about WICKED but this time, he is on the run outside of WICKED to track down his friends and get them out. Will he be able to do it?

Let’s start off with the basics here.  The Death Cure is not exactly as great as The Maze Runner but its definitely a lot better than The Scorch Trials.  It was a lot of fun to watch and it worked well because it went back to being how we know the first one.  It was fast-paced, lots of stuff going on to keep the amp up and Thomas wasn’t a whiny baby that didn’t know when he had to man up.  [Just a side note: Its sad because that’s the reason why I’m worried about The Scorch Trials.  While Teresa gets a bigger part, Thomas turns into this character that I really loathed reading about.  Where was all the courage and bravery he had in the Glades?]

Back on The Death Cure, we now have a label for the virus called The Flare.  We know what its about and in this one, Thomas tracks his friends back to one of the cities as we see how the normal people are coping with it.  There’s more outside world than the WICKED but if its anything we learned in The Scorch Trials, even when it feels like there is no control, WICKED is control of everything.  Trust and loyalty is taken in to the grand scheme of things here.  Who can Thomas trust? Who is looking out for the greater good? They even get the option from Janson, who has a much bigger role, to move to the next phase which includes getting back their memories.  Is getting the memories back a good thing? Are they even their own memories? WICKED is all about finding a cure for the future but to what ends?

Its a lot of questions that we’ve had rumbling around in our heads through the last two books to this one and demands answers.  The Death Cure does a decent job at doing it.  In the end, it makes you question: is WICKED good or bad?

I don’t have much to say about The Death Cure.  The ending was meant to be a surprise that kind of took me by mild surprise because a lot of people like to do this sort of ending nowadays in movies or books.  It was a little apparent at a certain point. I can’t say that this ending wasn’t a possibility that popped in my head but still, points for making this work for the most part. What makes The Death Cure feel more intense is again we have a time limit in place so things need to proceed faster and it pushes the plot along.  Also, it puts some of our favorite characters that we’ve grown to know in the last two books into iffy situations that take the ethical and emotional turn.  Its always better to have that sort of test especially with the friendships bonded over the rest of the trilogy.  Honestly, that is the big thing for me.  I never thought the love bits were a necessity and Thomas and his lady friends really don’t interest me all that much.  Although it was still apparent in this one, it was enough to not overshadow the main goal and the urgency of the entire situation.

Overall, The Death Cure was a quick read.  It wasn’t exactly a page turner but it was easy and thrilling.  I like it more than The Scorch Trials and less than The Maze Runner.  The ending worked hard to add that twist in, although used frequently in the last few years, it seemed to be the only outcome that would be kind of a surprise and would apply here.  The setting being outside of WICKED controlled headquarters is a good one because it lets us see what the Flare is and how the world has been fallen.  Thomas being more like the one in Book 1 definitely was a plus.  In the end, it does wrap up the main questions we have: Is WICKED good? Is there a cure for the Flare?  While I’m not totally behind whether the ending was great or not, the intentions are good.  It ties up The Maze Runner trilogy decently.

Have you read the Maze Runner trilogy? What are your thoughts on it? 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I’m definitely late to the party for The Fault in Our Stars and I’ve skimmed through a few reviews of John Green trying my best to avoid spoilers. All I know is that its about a girl living with cancer who falls in love with a boy.  Its supposed to be tear jerking and already adapted into a movie lead by Shailene Woodley.  That’s where I’m at with this book so clear mind, clear head going into this.  The deal with these sort of books is that I’m not sure what the depressing level is and sometimes, I’m just not in the mindset to do this especially since I do most of my reading in the morning on the bus.  Crying or being depressed isn’t exactly the way I’d like to start my work day, if you get what I mean. Anyways, I wanted to watch the movie and I really wanted to read this before seeing it so here I am, done after a few days.

The Fault in Our Stars

by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. – Goodreads

 I had to put a lot of thought into how to write about The Fault in Our Stars.  I feel that a good bit of you out there who have read this probably liked this a lot more than I did.  Now, that isn’t to say that I didn’t like it.  The book was something different and I give my praise to it for being raw.  Its like getting punched in the gut kind of raw.  And it radiates a feeling that doesn’t really hit until you think about it.  The metaphors John Green uses with stars and constellations and just how deep and simple life actually really is especially if you’ve seen it as you live every day blessed that you are still alive but really not so happy that you are causing so much pain around you.  Its a dramatic life.  I get all that.  I’d lie if I said that my eyes didn’t get all teary as I read a few of the parts.

the fault in our stars

The Fault in Our Stars couldn’t help but be a little predictable in the actual story.  You know that was where it was going.  You knew the outcome of Augustus and Hazel.  There was no escaping the eventuality of it.  It was just staring at us in the face even before it was announced officially.  Still, John Green does a good job at making us attached to Hazel and Augustus and what they have.  Its poetically and dramatically beautiful.  So look, I thought The Fault in Our Stars in a great book.  Perfect? Not so much.  At one point, it reminded me of the billion of Korean dramas out there.  If you’ve seen at least one of them, you know what I mean.  Its kind of a spoiler, I guess if you know nothing so highlight if you want to see what I mean. Someone always ends up getting cancer or some terminal disease after the couple finally So yeah.  I saw it coming a mile away.  Maybe you did too.

The Fault in Our Stars

 And maybe that’s why I felt a little not sure how to write this because as much it should hit hard, it didn’t hit me as much initially.  Now thats where I guess my thoughts change a little.  As I tried to work out the thoughts for this review, even now, a good few days later, I eventually sat down and started talking it out to my boyfriend even if he knew nothing about it and I realized that what touched me was not necessarily Hazel and Augustus but rather the whole concept of the tragic love.  The idea that life is taken away before they could have more time being in love or just being more and doing more meaningful things or making a mark in the world but then how these two characters live completely aware of that and most of time accepting the fact of that and eventually enjoying more of life because of that.  They live being as honest as they can to themselves, trying to make the most of their time and seeking out the answers they can.   Because of what they’ve lived through and live with, it makes their life more profound and it lets them see more than we do.  

the fault in our stars

I guess the idea is that the the fragility of life through the idea of Augustus and Hazel makes us see how we should be grateful for the days we have.  The beauty of our world is really what we make of it.  The fact that these two young ones are able to be so brave and strong for each other, especially through the words of John Green and his metaphors, we get hit with some raw feelings and thats what hits hard.  Not the story about falling in love because its in how you make it connect to the reader.  For me, the after effect of The Fault in our Stars lingering my mind was a lot more than while I was reading it.  While I appreciated the words and the description and each and every character in The Fault in Our Stars, I couldn’t help but feel that the story wasn’t perfect.  Or maybe thats how its supposed to feel at the end: a little empty, a tad hurt and desiring that there was a little more. I really don’t know…

I gave this a 4 out of 5 on Goodreads so yes, I really liked it.  What striked me more about The Fault in our Stars was the fragility of life and those bittersweet moments and not really their love story.

***Updated: After the review went up, as I was updating Goodreads, I had given this more thought and felt that my original 3.5 bumping to 4 was an overstatement so I dropped it back to 3 out of 5.***

 Have you read The Fault in Our Stars? What are your thoughts on it? 

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2) by James Dashner

Putting together the 15 Anticipated Movies for 2015 was great because I got a good general idea of what to look out for.  I never looked up whether the sequel of Maze Runner had gotten the green light to move ahead. Although, judging from the general reviews from the blogosphere, it was generally well received, right? Anyways, I loved it

If you’ve missed my review on The Maze Runner, please see the book review HERE.  In addition, I also reviewed the movie HERE.

When I realized that it would be released in September, I pulled up the sequel from my stack of books to read. Its one of the newer purchases but who cares? I just had to check it out 🙂

THE SCORCH TRIALS (Maze Runner #2)

by James Dashner

Scorch Trials

The Gladers arrived into safe haven.  They found a way to escape and they were safely rescued to a place where they could freshen up, eat and rest.  Except the next morning, Thomas wakes up to raging noise around them.  Some crazies are screaming through the windows.  When they escape the room, he realizes that he can’t connect with Teresa and she’s taken away.  The only message they get is a strange man telling them that they have a virus in their system and they need to get to a safe point in 2 weeks to get the cure.  They have embarked in what the man called the Scorch Trials.  What dangers and challenges lie ahead of them? What is the point of all these trials? Will they make it out alive?

Sequels usually don’t have quite the hype of the first one.  Scorch Trials starts off pretty good, setting off a new scenario, danger and its own set of problems.  Questions and mysteries start to spiral in the reader’s minds almost immediately as one thing leads to another and they start seeing and learning about their new quest.  They still wonder what this virus is and why they are doing these trials and what this all means.

The Scorch Trials leads up to learning what this virus is.  Plus, Teresa plays a heavier behind the scenes role.  The virus is a scary one that turns people in the most extreme forms to crazies.  Hints of zombie apocalypse anyone? These crazies are completely out there: no reason, no care and completely out of control and extremely deadly.  Everything in the Scorch Trials is just like what it sounds like.  Unlike the Maze, where all the factors were controlled and was pretty artificial, the Scorch Trials is more realistic (because they are supposedly in the hottest desert area on the face of the earth).  They experience extreme heat and destroyed buildings and bigger environment.  That should make this a little more interesting. Its a lot of walking and encountering unexpected situations and threats that come up. The Scorch Trials does have one little thing that doesn’t quite live up to the Maze.  Maybe its the pacing of the middle part, because once they hit the final third of the novel, the intense pace of the first comes back into play.

Although Scorch Trials fell a little short in the middle section, its not completely that which bothered me.  I had to take off a few points for Thomas.  That’s right, you read right.  Our main protagonist turned from a fearless and relatively smart guy in the Maze to this slightly whiny and a little wishy-washy boy.  It was a little frustrating to read at times, but he sometimes makes these bad decisions and his characters turns really inconsistent.  Plus, Thomas was always drifting off into sleep or getting beat up.  What happened to Thomas? I just didn’t quite understand why they turned him into this weak.

Overall, it was still a good read. The middle section is a little less action-packed than the entire pacing of the first novel.  The Maze seems to be a lot more intense than the Scorch Trials but the whole deal of why I didn’t like it was how they changed the nature of Thomas.  The idea of revealing hints of what the virus was and the effects it had on humans and how it affected the real world as they went through the Scorch was a good one.  The pacing could have been better.  Still, the ending makes me wonder about the third book.  I’m hoping that its going to notch up the intensity more than this one to have a more engaging reading experience.

 Have you read The Scorch Trials yet? What did you think? Was it better or worse than the first book?