So many books, so little time
Ah, John Green. It’s been too long.
This book wrecked me. 100%, no question. I am destroyed. Looking for Alaska didn’t break me, nor did The Fault In Our Stars. This book, however . . . this one hit me.
At the center of Green’s latest novel is Aza, a high schooler who suffers from severe OCD and anxiety. Yes, this is another book in which Green explores a Teen with a serious, debilitating illness. However, this story and character felt much more real than the main players or plot of The Fault in Our Stars (a book I did not much care for, I am sorry to say). This story doesn’t feel hokey or hackneyed, and I was honestly a little shocked by that. I love Green, but he can lay on the cheese a bit thick. All the characters and situations in this novel felt real. Every punch landed perfectly. And I think that’s because Green famously suffered a mental breakdown back in 2015, after the major success of his novels and movie adaptations. In recent interviews he has said he went through a long period when he thought he would never write again. This novel was born of those years, and it shows. This thing is friggin’ brutal. I finished it with tears in my eyes, to say the least.
I really cannot get over how well Green wrote about mental illness. A large struggle within the story is Aza’s relationship with her medication — she feels trapped into taking it, and she wants to be normal on her own. She does not want to have to live out of a bottle. Man, I relate to that sentiment. Her frustrations, her feelings of inadequacy, the moments when her anxiety gets in the way of the mystery she and her friend Daisy are trying to solve . . . all spot on.
I know this isn’t much of a review, but I don’t want to risk spoiling anything for those who haven’t read this book yet. If you’re a fan of John Green, what are you waiting for? And if you did not care for The Fault in Our Stars (like yours truly), give this one a shot.
Read for ‘Amateur Sleuth’ in Halloween Bingo.
DNF @ Page 506.
I am following my friend Sadie’s lead and stopping on this one. I’m as big a King fan as they come and often finish his new releases within a couple days... I just can’t make myself finish this one. It’s Under the Dome 2.0, but without the memorable characters or black humor that made that tome so fun.
Highly disappointed. Sad, too. If you enjoyed this one, more power to ya. Maybe I’ll revisit it at some point in my life, but not any time soon. Also, I am rating it because I did read 500 pages.
I love Steve’s writing. Owen’s, too. But this is a mess.
Read for ‘Supernatural’ in Halloween Bingo.
Cozy Mystery (N/A)
In the Dark, Dark Woods
Locked Room Mystery (N/A)
Murder Most Foul
Modern Masters of Horror
Serial Killer Spree
Terror in a Small Town
Red = Called but not read
Green = Read but not called
Blue = Called and read
The movie adaptation of this short novel is synonymous with classic horror (and, somehow, I’ve yet to see it); the novel itself is worth a look, too. A quick and breezy ride into the occult and the destruction of a wealthy, famous family, there is a reason this story has been well-regarded for four decades and counting.
This is ‘70s Horror through and through. Expect not any major gore or jump scares. This narrative gnaws at the reader’s mind and begs the question: “What would YOU do if you suspected your son was the anti-Christ?” There are a few strange occurrences and a couple minor gross-out moments, but on the whole this story plays in a minor key. I could have done with a bit more character development, but what is here is fine. I found myself getting a little bored at times, but on the whole I would consider this a successful horror novel. Now to see the movie.
Read for ‘Chilling Children’ in Halloween Bingo.
I was taken off guard by just how sad this novella is, and how deeply it hit me. Steve Brannigan is a man trying to hold himself together in the weeks after his young daughter’s tragic death. He is consoling himself with whiskey and soon quits his teaching job. Newly separated from his wife, the only company he has is the silence of his empty house.
... except for the thumping coming from upstairs.
This is the first story I’ve read by Kealan Patrick Burke, but it won’t be the last. His deceptively simple prose is key to the ingenuity of this short, horrifying tale: with only a few words or phrases he filled me with deep sadness, or fear. Think of early Ray Bradbury, but meaner. Having recently gone through a tragic loss of my own, this balls-to-the-wall rumination on grief and regret hit me especially hard.
Read for ‘Witches’ in Halloween Bingo. There is a witch, of sorts, at the center of this tale, but to say more would be a spoiler.