Now, first of all I totally made my picks early yesterday morning before voting began! However, for some reason both Nox and I could not get the PDF version of the bracket to take any text, so alas I had to print it, fill it out, and then scan it. Obviously, this is way too much work in our days of modern technology. Regardless, here is my finished bracket with The Great Gatsby as my winner. There are other books on here I enjoyed more than The Great Gatsby, but I think it’s a masterpiece that deserves to win.
Considering that this YA novel won so many awards and is read by pretty much every middle schooler ever, I cannot believe that I hadn’t really heard of it let alone read it. I was randomly looking up young adult books to read for a young adult book club and this was one I came across with many awards behind the title. It was vetoed as a book club choice, but I put it on my to-read list anyway. I can’t say that I loved it, but I am glad that I read it.
The House of the Scorpion brings up some interesting moral and ethical dilemmas like cloning, free will, and use of power. Matt, as El Patron’s clone, finds out quickly that he is not viewed like other little boys in the drug land of Opium. Matt’s coming of age story has its moments, but to me it seemed like Matt’s voice from early childhood to teenager didn’t change very much. He still seemed very childlike. This was part of why I got bored with it. I wanted a young adult book that actually spotlighted a young adult, not a child. Plus, the last third of the book just went in a completely different direction, and seemed unnecessary.
Overall, I think if I had been in middle school or even high school I would have enjoyed this book much more. As an adult, it was underwhelming. I enjoyed reading it, but it wasn’t nearly as good as I expected it to be with all the awards it won. With that said, I checked out the sequel at the same time as The House of the Scorpion, so I started reading The Lord of Opium. We’ll see if this one is better. Stay tuned!
Even though The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is centered around two teens with cancer, it does not end up cliched or seem as if the author were trying too hard to make this story about cancer. This isn’t a perfect book, but it doesn’t disappoint.
Sixteen-year-old Hazel started off with thyroid cancer, but now it has moved to her lungs. Her and her oxygen tank go to a support group for teens with cancer every week, and it is there that she meets sweet, suave Augustus Waters. She is instantly attracted to him because he’s hot and because he is of course smart, witty and sweet. Augustus or Gus had osteosarcoma and lost half of his leg due to the disease, but it seems that he is in remission. Hazel tries to resist falling in love with him because she knows she is going to die soon and doesn’t want to hurt him, but it is inevitable (I mean he’s gorgeous, intelligent, and sweet, so how couldn’t she?!). The two lovebirds bond over Hazel’s favorite book entitled An Imperial Affliction, and they travel to Amsterdam to visit the author, and it is there that they truly fall in love. It is only when they get back that Gus tells Hazel that his cancer has returned in full force. So, instead of Hazel dying and breaking Gus’ heart, the opposite happens.
This book was well-written, and was very honest about what it means to have cancer and cope with all that comes with it. However, I didn’t like how predictable it was in terms of Gus having cancer and dying instead of Hazel. I saw that coming right away. Even so, their love story is so real and believable. Green has done a wonderful job making these two teenagers come to life despite their bouts with cancer. I don’t like some of the name-dropping of bands and movies and such in the dialogue but the story and characters were so great that I didn’t mind too much.
Because I knew that someone was going to die, it was difficult to let myself love the characters because it was going to be a heartbreaking ending. I did not want to spend an evening sobbing on the couch. In consequence, I distanced myself from the characters so I wouldn’t be so devastated when one of them died. I think this made the book less enjoyable since I wouldn’t let myself become too caught up in the story and emotions.
I had heard so many good things about this book before reading it, that I had pretty high expectations. The Fault in Our Stars was all I expected it to be, but I wish I could have discovered it without having any preconceived notions about what kind of a book it would be.