Saturday, 22 December 2012

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Oh God the angst and feelings.

I really really like this book.

The Fault In Our Stars is a book which follows the life of Hazel, a cancer sufferer who meets fellow sufferer Augustus at her support group. Yes, it's a romance. And yes, that seems incredibly hypocritical as in various previous reviews I have moaned about the inclusion of romance in young adult fiction. I suppose the difference here is that the story of TFIOS is the romance and in those previous example there has been an existing story that a romance invades (in my mind) unnecessarily. TFIOS is a story more about how cancer (or perhaps it can be applied more generally to suffering) affects the people surrounding the sufferer and how this in turn affects the sufferer, as opposed to how the suffering affects them directly. This is makes for thoughtful insights which you can apply beyond cancer. I found the characters to be well written, original and developed. I was glad that the difficult ideas presented were not sugar coated for teenage readers: they were real and blunt. With that in mind, it's probably time to say how devastating this book is. The way it's written, being so real and set so deep in Hazel's mind, the story is sad (I cried) so I suppose this is a trigger warning for the book. Despite this there are unexpected aspects of humour in TFIOS which are particularly effective baring in mind the context of the story they sit in.Looking for faults, I'm struggling, but the most obvious one (apart from some aspects being unrealistic) is the ending. I did not mind the ending, but I do not think it was to quite scale with the rest of the book. Also, if you have read Looking For Alaska by John Green, it is similar.

This is probably my favourite book or at least close. I recommend it, but be prepared for sadness and sensitive topics.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I read Wuthering Heights for a controlled assessment essay at school, and so I do have some displeasure linked to it, but I think I can detach myself from this.

Wuthering Heights is a gothic book set in Victorian Era Yorkshire. Without giving away any plot, I can say that it's a romance, although this isn't universal throughout the novel. It is also a novel about power, age, responsibility, trust and loss among other things. The term 'romance' suggests something a lot kinder and warmer than Wuthering Heights which is often really quite dark. It's very deep and complex but very interesting and intelligent.

This novel is dense, particularly before chapter 10. There is a lot of plot and a lot of information packed into fairly small spaces and despite my usually fast reading pace these chapters took me a long time to get through. The rest of the novel is not quite so hard going, but still are not exactly light reading. In addition, the book has many complications for the reader to keep up with: it has a 'chinese box' structure, meaning that there is one narrative inside another (at one point, Mr Lockwood is recounting Nelly recounting Cathy's reading of a letter from Isabelle - it's a lot to keep track of) or the fact that there are two characters with the same name. This is sometimes irritating, but I found that pacing yourself through Wuthering Heights rather than trying to rush it kept things in order.

Despite this, the novel is very interesting to read. The characters and plot develop vastly. The characters all have faults, most of which are quite dramatic which whilst it sounds dramatic ultimately makes for more captivating characters and reading.

In conclusion, this is a hard book to read. It's hard going and takes a long time to get through, as well as a lot of time in a dictionary and the footnotes. But it's also fascinating in a sort of creepily intriguing way.

(Also I did fabulously on that essay that doesn't influence how I feel at all not a bit I don't know what you're talking about)