I’ve recently given in to my slightly geekier side and for the first time (since the days of the Beano and Dandy) I’ve picked up a comic book; or a fair few to be more precise. With the onslaught of … Continue reading
Hello! So a friend of mine has recently started an online magazine which I think you should take a gander at – because you should! Click!
Also, because I’ve written a couple reviews for it and this is my way of cheating… I’m counting this as two posts onto my blog!!
Everything was going so well! I was posting regularly enough and felt quite inspired by my own ramblings, unfortunately life has a way of taking you by surprise and well – it’s been a busy month. But I’m back (hopefully) and will be spamming feeds with nonsense once again!
Hope you’re all enjoying the summer!
I’ve been meaning to do a post on this book for a while now, but haven’t quite had my thoughts in the right place for it – I’m still not quite sure, but we’ll be giving it a very informal try! But I will warn you… this will outline why I didn’t like the book. I’ll definitely put things I did like.. but I feel that I need to justify why I didn’t like it more..
I know that this is a book that is loved by so many people and that must mean it’s a great book that EVERYONE should love – because that many people can’t be wrong, right? That’s the thing about reading, it’s all subjective and no matter how much you try to change someone’s opinion on a book – it can’t be done. If they hate it, they hate it and vice-versa. That isn’t to say that I hated the book, but I didn’t love it – I don’t think I even liked it…
It’s tragic, but very predictable. It tries to be deep but it doesn’t quite get there and you can see what will happen next before you turn the page. Yes it’s sad – but I don’t think it was engaging enough to really make me feel the main character’s emotion. Instead I felt alienated, purposely kept out of the loop – maybe that’s what Green was going for but I couldn’t get into the story while the idea that I was peeking into something that I’m not meant to kept nibbling at me.
At the heart of this all is a love story and it’s… cute. Yes, cute. It’s puppy love – no matter how many times people try to convince you that it was an epic love, a ‘small infinity’, it was still puppy love. Everything about it was cute – you awww because a boy finds himself fascinated with the quirky, standoffish girl and you see a girl like things that she obviously wouldn’t like under normal circumstances because a boy she fancies happens to like them. And you’re sad because you know exactly what is going to happen to them even if theres an attempt to make it seem like this giant twist.
The characters… well Hazel and Gus both struck me as pretentious, that they looked down on people who felt sorry for them – even for those who cared about them and I felt like I couldn’t call them on it – because of the cancer themes. The way that it’s written seems like the characters don’t want you to understand what they’re going through or to be in on their jokes or dark humour – that it’s meant exclusively for those who have experienced what they’ve gone through. And perhaps it is, those of us who haven’t had anything in our lives that devastating couldn’t possibly know how it feels – but what about their parents? Yes we all shut our parents out when we were young, yes we thought that what we were grown up enough to make our own decision when we clearly weren’t – but Hazel knows how much her parents love her, how much they care for her and she knows how much it’s destroying them that the cancer is destroying her; yet she still has this standoffish approach to them that I just can’t understand. His theme and his ideas are interesting but his characters (at least the two mains) for me don’t seem to be fleshed out enough to hold these beliefs or ideas he’s given them without seeming unreal.
Hazel… is (people are going to actually really hunt me down and hurt me for this) forgettable. She may be the main character but everything else around her is much more interesting. She sounds older than she is, not in a mature way but more in an obvious ‘an adult beyond teen years wrote this pretending to be a teenager’ sort of way.
Gus, has the ego of a tudor king and because of his affliction – we can’t call him a douche. His metaphors are annoying and he reads like a fictional character… Yes, I know it’s a fictional story but there wasn’t a point where I believed he could be a real guy. It’s read through Hazel’s perspective so maybe that’s why he comes off as this perfect imperfect guy, because that is what she sees, but as I couldn’t seem to believe in even Hazel – all the other character inevitably become page fillers, nothing more.
If any characters really interested me… it was Peter Van Houten. He was believable. You immediately understand his pain even without knowing his past, the way in which Hazel obsesses over his book illustrated that he had a close understanding to the subject matter, that there was far more to it than him simply writing a book. I think this character was Green’s strongest asset to the story, that perhaps he put a little of himself into this character – as a bystander himself. I can only assume that he himself (Green) may have not experienced what Gus and Hazel have gone through but he’s been witness to it – and perhaps burned by it in the past.
I’ll try end on a positive before people actually decide to kill me..
If you forget that this is meant to be a teenager speaking and perhaps pretend that you’re just listening to Green talk as himself, there are moments that are darkly funny and beautifully insightful and I see why people love his work. He puts philosophical thought at the center of a lot of this book and although it doesn’t come across well through his characters – you can see it there. Taking a step back from the actual story to see how John Green’s mind works is a curious experience, he knows how to paint a picture, and he does it well – you are able to really ‘see’ the characters’ surroundings and he touches on being deep and serious, they’re just too powerful for the characters he paints and this is what I think really gets me about this book.
I would probably still recommend this book to others just because it’s an interesting read – whether you like the characters or not. The story itself has potential to be very deep and the love story within it is cute. John Green fans will probably argue that this is one of the most heartbreaking books out there and it is I guess… if you connect with that characters more than I did and don’t see the story coming – even for those who want something just to read on a night in – this will do.
ps: This is only my opinion. Don’t kill me >_<
Lines as long as lines can get without becoming a fire hazard had formed in front of every cashier - human and digital – at the large cinema.The air smelt like a concoction of stale popcorn, perfume and the occasional whiff of pizza floated up from the downstairs pizzeria. It was Friday night and several long awaited movies had been released for the weekend, so of course the carpeted lounge was full of overexcited teenagers, awkward first daters, couples, groups of women, groups of men and the odd lone film enthusiast. In the front of one the lines at the ice cream stall was a rather small woman with an oversized shoulder bag; she’d been there sampling almost every flavour of ice cream on display for several minutes – completely ignoring the constant tutting of the crowd behind her. She was completely oblivious to the uneasy look the cashier was giving her as he glanced over that the annoyed line still growing and she paced back and forth between flavours at her own leisure.
“Now… I’m not sure… Could I try the peanut butter cups one again?” Angela asked as a man somewhere near the middle of the queue swore loudly and stomped away. Angela was the type of woman who always did the same thing day in and day out… She would wake up, have a coffee and a plain piece of toast for breakfast before heading out to work where she’d see the same faces, eat the same lunch and do the same job every day; she’d then head over to her boyfriend’s house where they’d pick one of the usual restaurants they visited and go eat. On weekends, they’d spend the evening watching a movie with chocolate ice cream and a large salted popcorn before heading back home. This had been her routine more or less for the past three years, but she had not always been that way; Angela had decided she hadn’t quite given up on her dreams of becoming adventurous just yet.
As a child, Angela Grace had travelled the world with her parents as their jobs required them to. She wasn’t really sure what they did when she was young – but she remembered it involved plants. This meant that her early life was full of constant moving and living out of suitcases. Angela’s typical year consisted of setting up tent in the amazon for a couple of weeks before going to live in India for a year, and then spending the next year in China. She had seen things that people only dreamed about and experienced a way of life unknown to most in the world, and although she had once in a while wondered what is was like to have a ‘normal’ life – she was happy. Angela remembered how the heavens would open up in the evening and the stars would almost sing to her in the night sky; promising endless possibilities as they merrily twinkled above her. She was about ten years old and living on a small island in Asia, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the tropical night – where there was no rush of city chaos or bright lights and fog to cloud the sky and she remembered thinking that one day she would go beyond exploring the world, and would see the stars. Unfortunately life had a way of changing plans.
The whole family had grown tired of the constant travelling, and Angela’s parents wanted to see her go off to a normal school – even just for a little while. Angela’s parents settled into paperwork and she focused on becoming used to the hectic life of the capital city. There was always noise, and smoke, and cold weather, and people rushing to and fro. There were no stars blanketing the sky anymore or tropical storms or diving into the sea – it was just people and buildings of grey and artificial colours. Angela finally did find her footing in the city and although she never really forgot her dreams of becoming an explorer like her parents; she became comfortable – caught in the corporate world, in ‘normal’ society and never really found her way out.
And so, she took her time choosing her ice cream at the stall – regardless of how many people tutted or groaned behind her. Because although she really wanted everything she could see… sometimes you can’t have everything you really want – and you settle for something that makes you feel comfortable.
Angela had a scoop the chocolate, again.
In the not so countryside just pass Greater London there is a small cul de sac which sits in the middle of almost nowhere – between fields of undecided green and yellow and woods that hadn’t quite matured to the status of forests. In the garden of one of the larger houses Steven sat quietly on the patio swing pretending to be incredibly engrossed in an email or text message and not listening to his wife and in-laws in their animated conversation; he couldn’t understand a word they were saying as they spoke in their own native language. The family were of course friendly and warm towards him and he knew they loved him very much – but they still seemed to forget that he was there once they started to get excited about a topic; this he didn’t mind so much since it always gave him the chance to sneak away to his favourite place in the country.
During one of these frequent family get togethers while the sun was beating down on them on a late spring day, Steven found the opportunity to take a walk on his own through the field beyond the garden and get away from the noise and the children running between the jabbering adults. At the end of the field were the woods filled with thick trees of ash and alder, bushes with berries of various colours and a dirt path that led eventually to another field at the other end of the woods. He walked along the path for a little while until the leaves above him eclipsed most of the sunlight and created beautiful dancing shadows that moved with the breeze; he turned right into the trees – leaving the path entirely. He walked briskly through the shadows, touching the trunks of each tree as he weaved passed them until he came to a small slightly circular clearing, the grass was still slightly moist from the previous down pour but it didn’t matter, Steven slumped himself down and looked up at the sky. The leaves separated here just enough so that he could see the blue sky about him, clouds swirling playfully as the day rolled on and distant birds chattered among themselves. He was completely happy and started to drift off into memories of the years that had passed.
Steven remembered the day he first saw his wife, how she’d greeted him indifferently on his first day at work alongside her. He remembered how he’d dismissed her as being cold and uninteresting, that her perfect bun had been too tight and that her suit was far too authoritative for her position at the company. He smiled at the memory. He remember how nights of overtime work had been more of a pain with her for the first few months, how she insisted on taking on the role of team leader and he’d insisted the same – they’d disagree about everything, criticise each others work method, argued over the smallest details. Steven remembered the office party where they’d first learnt to be more friendly (after a few glasses of wine and bottles of beer under awkwardly arranged ballons and streamers), how they eventually became friends, good friends and then how he realised he was slowly falling for her. Everyday she greeted him casually, he found himself beaming up at her, her jokes became funnier – his more awkward, how coffee to discuss the week’s meeting became drinks after work at the pub and then dinner to discuss interests and movies on the weekend. He remembered how he fell for her confidence, her laugh and the way she pursed her lips when she couldn’t quite figure out a problem. After so many years now, he still couldn’t believe how lucky he’d been to find himself working with her and how every morning he still found he loved her even more than the night before.
In the middle of his daydreaming he heard the breaking of several branches and rustling of leaves, Steven tilted his head towards the noise and saw his wife hopping into the clearing with a content smile on her face. She was so incredibly beautiful, it still took his breath away. He smiled up at her and remembered the day he asked her to marry him; right there in that clearing.
Every weekday morning in a corner of Greater London – like every other part of Britain at that exact time – the parents rush to get their children to school. The mums (and some dads) of this particular suburb walk up to the tiny side gates of the infants playground – laden with school bags, prams and overly hyper children; some try their best to seem cheery, others are completely engrossed in thoughts of work to return the muttered “good morning”s thrown their way and then there are those who have yet to really wake up.
A parade of parents at various stages of ‘readiness’ walk toward the doors of their children’s respective classrooms, hoping that the teachers have opened their rooms early and they don’t have to wait outside surrounded by benches and climbing frames that make them look like giants. Parents in work shirts, tracksuits and pyjamas, some fully prepared for a day of work, others half so. Groups of weary moaners complaining about the night before or the worries of tomorrow, rushed mums with far too much makeup on – smears of lipstick hurried applied and clumps of mascara carelessly hanging off their lashes and then those with none at all; eye bags from sleepless nights with the babies worn like battle scars, eyebrows permanently etched in disapproval or annoyance, prams being pushed with children still too young to leave at school – screaming for attention or wanting to follow their older siblings around. Mornings are always chaotic and every adult standing in the playground wore the signs of parenthood on their faces; apart from one.
Ms. Maxine Elton refused to look as worn out as her fellow parents everyday and instead arrived with her pretty daughter, Lana immaculately dressed at all times. Maxine stood straight and elegantly tall – usually wearing her gold blonde hair pushed into a neat bun away from her angular face, oversized Chanel glasses hiding whatever eye bags gave the illusion away (regardless of how gloomy the weather was), and a small black Prada tote slung casually on her arm. Her shoes were always designer and always heels that were at least 4inches high, and her lips were always glossed. Although she was perfectly friendly toward the other mums and dads, she seemed to distance herself from them – often finding herself in an early phone call to some very important sounding friend or to her charming husband.
It amazed Maxine that she was a parent – even though Lana was already six! But it was her goal to not fall into the trap of parenthood, to not become the overwhelmed parent with wild hair and a pale face. Before she was married, Maxine had spent most of her life as a dancer, she wasn’t by any means exceptional – but she was good. Her posture and body oozed confidence and she loved the glamour of the stage, the lights, the silence of the audience, the beat of music that dragged her about as if she were a puppet – she loved it all. All her dreams centred around her art and her passion; until she met Richard.
She had changed so much of herself so they could be together and start a family. She gave up the road, the wild parties, the drunken escapades, the luxuries performing afforded her, travelling, living in the centre of everything and eventually, she gave up her dancing. Maxine became docile, more controlled for her husband and later her daughter, she loved her family so much and Richard spoilt her as much as he spoilt Lana and she was happy in her picturesque suburban house. she could ask for anything and it would be hers; but she sometimes wished for the days of carefree partying all night and dancing all day. So although she had grown up and become a parent, Maxine was not quite ready to give up all the glamour of the past just yet…
In a little suburb of Greater London, the parents rush to take their children to school, each mum and dad would have the same look of weariness in their eyes, even though they would try disguise it with smiles and cheery “hello”s and “good morning”s… except one. Maxine Elton would be seen every morning in the playground standing elegantly in her heels – with her hair in a neat bun, her oversized sunglasses resting on the bridge of her nose and a Prada bag nestled in the crook of her arm.
Walking down a small street lined with houses and the large gate of an all girl’s school in the middle of West London was a tall woman with short white hair streaked with bits of light green and crescent moon glasses. She wore a denim vest – which sported a number of oddly shaped silver badges – over an oversized faded pink shirt, loose black trouser, scuffed combat boots and a look of permanent superiority and disapproval on her face. She walked along the road towards the main street with purpose in each stride and pushed passed the group of giggling secondary school girls who strolled in front of her, her eyebrow cocked high as they started to protest at her rudeness – but on she walked.
Tabitha Russell was a woman coming close to her 50s and she was on a mission; she had no time for pleasantries or politeness of any kind – indeed, if everyone knew what she knew no one would have time for that nonsense. Because Tabitha believed that the world was coming to an end; and very soon. She had for the past few years been gathering supplies so that she would be ready for any disaster – whether it be natural or extra terrestrial. Although there had been no signs of an apocalypse in her quiet little street, she had somehow managed to convince herself that it was soon. She had gone so far into this idea that at the end of her garden stood a very sturdy and rather unattractive bunker – and in it she had collected canned goods, dried meats, seven oxygen tanks, an axe, a tool box, several first aid kits, a tin helmet (to deflect the alien mind control), snow boots, a baseball bat, over a hundred books, gallons of water, a generator, an inflatable boat, sunscreen, along with countless other items that she believed would be needed.
Although the thought of an apocalypse terrified Tabitha to no end, she was comforted by the fact that she was so well prepared. She would walk (or rather strut) down the road with her head held high and her nose pointed straight up into the air as she passed those silly people who continued with their lives so casually. She could not see how no one else could not see the signs, it almost drove her mad with anger. And although she was a smug person, she was not a completely mean, Tabitha eventually did decide that it was only fair to warn her neighbours and those who would listen of their impending doom. So after about the second year of preparations she came to the conclusion that it was now time to concentrate on trying to convince the rest of the world that they too should prepare before it was too late. Unfortunately after a year of her shouting and stomping in Hyde Park Corner Tabitha realised that she was never met with thanks; instead people seemed to laugh or briskly walk away – as if she were mad! This was of course frustrating and she had decided that she should give up. Today was to be her last attempt to save the rest of humanity, clearly those who wouldn’t listen didn’t deserve to prepare. In her mind, as long as the word was out – she had done her part.
So after a long evening of shouting and giving evidence and meeting people with many a raised eyebrow, Tabitha went home. The long day had worn her out and all she wanted was a hot cup of tea and the sound of the radio. As she sat in her armchair with her feet wrapped warmly in a pair of blue wooly socks and her tea in hand, she forgot all her troubles and smiled to herself; wishing silently that the world would not end just yet as she was far too comfy to do anything about it.
They sat across from each other with content smiles on their faces. The sky outside had gone dark and the cafe staff began to light candles as a soft jazz number playfully danced on the speakers. The room was empty as they looked around, the lighting was almost as delicate as the glow of fireflies, shadows rested merrily on the wooden interior and twitched every so often as the candles flickered away. These two could be themselves in a place so detached from the noise of the city. This nook was their own for hours, with only the waiters and occasional lone customer to remind them that the world outside still existed.
To us spectators, Alistair and Perry were old friends, sharing old stories and drinking the worries of the world away in small cups of espresso. As night rolled in they looked like happy old pair sipping their glasses of wine and reliving their youth – but it was so much more than that. Yes, they were friends – the oldest and dearest, but something connected them far more than friendship could describe; it was a connection they had denied since they were young – and at times still denied. They loved each other in a way they hardly understood for so many years. They acknowledged the feeling of complete devotion and adoration of one another; but silently, never acting upon it now.
When they met, Alistair and Perry would shake hands warmly and a combination of both utter happiness and an overwhelming sadness would flow between them. They would never embrace each other – for fear of never letting go. This was enough. After decades, this had become enough. Alistair would stare at the wrinkles that were etched into his friend’s face and still see the same sparkle in his brown eyes that captivated him when he was in his twenties; when Perry laughed, it was if they had travelled back to a time where their hair was not white and their bodies were strong. They were young again – smoking and drinking until the light touched the star filled sky. Perry would take his hand silently, turn it over and examine every line, every crack, every vein as if they told a story – their story. They had been through everything together since childhood; fun, games, love, heartbreak, sorrow and joy; every moment of confusion and every sure decision, every secret. Nothing had broken their bond – even they had tried to once, but something always brought them back together in the end.
And so, they lived lives they could be proud of, and they grew old. As time passed, they needed each other a little less – but there are still times when their hearts ache for each other’s company; both would often find themselves thinking about the other and longing to see his smile, hear his voice, remember all the nonsense they’d been through. Alistair and Perry would meet in their nook, spending hours together – having lunch, then tea, then wine, then dinner until closing time, and then they would part. As they took each other’s hand to shake goodbye, Alistair and Perry would linger in that moment; holding on to something they knew they couldn’t ever have again. Both would stroll out into the starless night and separate, returning to their own families.
Down the steps to a basement bar in West London dances a young man, alone. He ignores the giggling twenty-somethings stumbling across the dance floor bathed in lights that change colour, and scoffs at the boys demanding their drinks at the bar. He spends an hour frantically moving to the beats blaring out of the speakers, and then two hours or so staring into his glass of scotch as the ice slowly melts and water trickles down onto the wooden table.
For the past three months he’s walked in each Thursday at around 9pm and hopes no one will bother him. The bar staff have accepted his strange presence, politely ignoring him and giving him the space he silently demands – only acknowledging him when he orders a drink. He would always come in with the same sad look, his small lips turned down and slightly open, his auburn hair brushed neatly away from his face, his jaw tensed and the lids around his green eyes puffy. When anyone would try to speak to him, he’d force a smile, nod and walk away as soon as he saw an opening. No one ever found out his name or why he adamantly refused any company. He’d order, dance and sit in the darkest corner he could find, never looking up from his drink.
In truth, the young man danced and sat there hour after hour to distract himself – because he knew that every week his wife would be having an affair. She would make up some vague excuse about going out with the girls or seeing a friend, but he knew. He couldn’t sit at home and wait for her to come back – and see how her cheeks were still flushed and her skin still glowed beautifully with heat and desire. It destroyed him, but he couldn’t confront her; he couldn’t bare to even think about the idea of going their separate ways – she was more than everything to him.
So, every Thursday he was at this bar – waiting for her to go home and tuck herself into their bed. At first he’d gone there for revenge, to find a woman and take her back home and have his wife catch him. Maybe she might feel even a fraction of the pain that had tormented him day and night – but he couldn’t do it. There was no anger left in him, just the desire to wake up from the numbness – a constant wish that nothing was real. His heart was so broken that nothing made sense, all he could do was dance and pretend nothing was happening. Every time he thought about how she tortured him week after week, how guiltless her smiles and kisses were, how every time he touched her he could almost hear her laughing at him – his soul died a little more. He thought about how he could go straight up to her, tell her what he knew, scream at her, throw her out, kill any man who even looked at her, hurt her, wrap his fingers around her slender neck – his fingers went cold and every breath he took was painful. The thoughts – if he lingered on them for too long – drove him mad; they were too intense, too dangerous. He scared himself, and he couldn’t risk losing control – he couldn’t lose her.
Every Thursday night, you’ll find a man, dancing alone in a bar – drowning in misery and denial. Scarcely even realising that every week, as he sips his scotch – he’s planning his beloved wife’s demise.