Birthday Book Haul: Really Homosexual Edition

IMG_0495Even though my birthday was on the twenty-third of April, all the books I ordered just now came in. I received the emotionally distant present of a giftcard (which I fucking love) was excited to take advantage of all that free money. What did I do? I ordered books, of course.

1. H.P. Lovecraft: Great Tales of Horror
I have a problem: I’m a colossal, raging bibliophile. If I already own a book but see a nicer looking cover later on, you bet your ass I’m going to buy it. This book is no exception. I own Necronomicon too, but my reasoning for buying this one as well was, “THIS HAS AN ADORABLE CTHULHU ON THE COVER.” Logic is clearly my best trait. 

2. Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and Poems
Back in eighth grade, I lent a copy of my complete works of Edgar Allen Poe to some atrocious person I thought was my friend, only to have a falling out and never get it back. Well, the joke’s on her because I bought another one with an even cooler cover six years later. Take that, adolescence.

3. A Queer History of the United States by Michael Bronski
“A text book? Really?” Yes, really. This particular one is for novel research purposes only. Also, I found an appalling lack of queer history on the internet.

4. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
Oh, Sylvia. Sweet, wonderful Sylvia. I adore her and everything she was. Reading The Bell Jar last year aided me in so many ways. I’ve never experienced a writer who could channel all of my confusion and sorrow and listlessness into words so accurately, even though we’re generations apart. So, clearly, I had to buy her journals to consume the musings of my 1960s self.

5. The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith (also under the name Claire Morgan)
It is said that Vladimir Nabokov was so inspired by this particular book that he wrote Lolita. Like, woah, man. That should be sick (but awesome) enough to make anyone want to buy this book.

6. The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall
More gay. That’s it, really.

7. The Beebo Brinker Chronicles by Ann Bannon.
EVEN MORE GAY! No, seriously, this one is for personal educational/research purposes as well. I’m in dire needs of information about queer culture in the sixties.

8. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
I’m going to be honest, I’ve heard a lot of nasty tales about Cassandra Clare and what she once did in the Harry Potter fandom. However, I decided to let that minor detail slide and check out her Infernal Devices series, which looks way more interesting than The Mortal Instruments even though they’re closely linked together.

9. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I wanted to see what all the hype was about and why all these teenage girls kept saying, “Okay.” Find my review of the book here.

10. Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy
After seeing Netflix make it into a show, I had to buy the book because that’s how I roll. Plus, it has werewolves.

11. Psycho by Robert Bloch
Apparently, while making his rule-breaking classic film, Alfred Hitchcock bought as many copies of this book as he could so the plot to his movie wouldn’t be ruined. Being a fan of both the movie Psycho and Hitchcock as a person, this novel was on my priority list.

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Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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I wanted to hate this book.

I wanted to point and laugh at everyone who ate it up. I wanted to use this as a pump to inflate my already swollen ego, asserting the fact that my taste in everything is superior because I resisted the bandwagon, hive mind temptation that encircled this supposed “perfect” novel. I wanted to be that one asshole who was able stand up on my soapbox and say, “No, you’re completely wrong about this book and it actually sucks,” to anyone who mentioned it.

I mean, near flawless ratings on all sites? Endless praise? An absurd amount of hype? Basically held a permanent spot on the Amazon bestseller list since its release? The film rights bought a mere month after publication?

Of course I couldn’t trust its seemingly impossible acclaim. I find that, more often than not, people are painfully wrong about absolutely everything. Not to mention I held a strict ignorant bias against young adult novels.

Every sign was grabbing me by my shoulders, shaking me, and telling me to run as far away from this book and its followers as possible. So what did I do?

I read it anyway.

And it was a fucking great book.

The Fault in Our Stars is told in first-person from the point of view of sixteen-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster, who is anchored to a cumbersome oxygen tank and has to almost constantly live with tubes up her nose. She was diagnosed with stage four thyroid cancer when she was just thirteen, but her tumors are kept at bay by an experimental miracle medicine called Phalanxifor. When her parents force her to attend a support group hosted by a nut-less guy named Patrick, the stars align (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?) and she meets cancer-surviving, mono-legged Augustus Waters. They form a connection and it all goes downhill from there. Wonderfully, might I add, but still downhill.

I enjoyed Hazel as the narrator. John Green did a great job in fleshing out someone who was forced to smarten up and come to terms with the bleakness of the world given her unfortunate circumstances, yet still succumbed to supposed mindless things like marathons of America’s Next Top Model. His descriptions were charming in the sense that they really capture the small, simple, seemingly trivial but beautiful moments in life that come when someone has a sudden burst of self-awareness and realization; people riding bikes, the sun, children playing in the park, etc.

Augustus, on the other hand, was a bit of problem. I’ve met people like Hazel and Isaac and Hazel’s uppity friend whose name escapes me because she was merely a plot device (which is another problem: characters are not meant to be just plot devices), but the closest person I’ve come into contact with that even remotely resembles Augustus Waters is myself and it’s still not even close.

There is no better example of his general impossibility as a person than when we’re first introduced to him. It was like a giant, flaming spotlight was on him from the start. Some of the first words out of his mouth are, “I fear oblivion.” When playing video games, 99.9% of the general populous would scream, “fuck,” “shit,” or a combination of the two that sounds like, “fucking shit!” Oh, no, not Augustus Waters. He spouts smart little quips and uses large words that are unnecessary for the subject matter. I’ve come to the conclusion that Augustus is one of those pseudo-intellectual kids in class who are so passionate about their vast knowledge that they interrupt the teacher’s lesson just to flaunt how sooooo incredibly worldly and cerebral they are.

Augustus’ charisma and romanticism and intelligence were all on purpose, you see. John Green blindsided you with something called emotional manipulation (also called emotional violation or, more blatantly, emotional molestation). He spent time constructing this genuine relationship between two likable terminally ill people. They do romantic activities and say all these heartfelt, philosophical musings to each other and you learn to adore these characters and then he fucks you up in the worst way possible. ALL ON PURPOSE. HE WROTE THIS BOOK WITH THE SOLE INTENT OF MAKING YOU CRY AND THAT IS NOT OKAY. He’s pretty much the YA Nicholas Sparks.

Maybe I’ve watched too many of his vlogs, but I can’t help but notice how John Green the Person bleeds through the pages more than John Green the Author. The characters are just different versions of him: Female Cancer-Ridden John Green, One-Legged John Green, Blind John Green. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the most natural thing in the world to stick yourself in your writing, but there needs to be some limits and diversity.

This novel is a strange in the sense that nothing particularly interesting or marvelous happens, yet it snatches your attention and you keep on reading, kind of like Catcher in the Rye but with cancer. Green’s writing style is uniquely his own. The characters, no matter how caricature-ized, are still good and you honestly can’t help but become engaged. Despite the complaints, this book is filled with something I love, which I like to call harsh sincerity. The philosophy surrounding this story is as inspiring as it is bleak and hopeless.

Overall, I give it four out of five Winona Ryders.

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