I’m Not Reviewing A Book

(on an unrelated note, YAY BRIAN O’DRISCOLL, despite my English-ness)

In continuing my whole ‘reading for fun’ thing, I have stormed through the first three books of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, and John Green’s wonderful The Fault In Our Stars, a book whose brilliance I’m appreciating about two years too late, but at least I get to participate in some of the ‘OMG TFIOS MOVIE’ shenanigans currently floating around the Internet.

Upon finishing the book, I wanted to write a review of it on here, while it was still fresh in my mind. However, as the title suggests, I have decided not to do that.

A part of this is because of fear of doing the book an injustice, by criticising it in, not harsh but, unjustified ways – I kinda disliked Isaac, but I appreciate that you can easily love him, and I don’t want to discredit my, largely not hateful, opinions of the novel by exaggerating a tenuous disapproval into a 700-word rant (because I could so do that).

Equally, I don’t want to undermine the novel as a piece of literature by gushing over the perfect relationship between Hazel and Gus – ‘oh the chemistry!’ As Green himself has said, young adult novels must be taken seriously as pieces of literature, as the alternative suggests that teenagers can’t grasp sophisticated concepts in books; and while I don’t think obsessive OTP-ing is necessarily harmful, or even indicative of idiocy, I’d rather engage with the book on a slightly more complicated level, and I fear that a formal review of mine would easily degenerate into ‘OMG HAGUSTUS!’

Furthermore, The Fault In Our Stars is, to be frank, a big part of Online Mainstream culture; this culture is still distinct from the ‘mainstream’ Mainstream culture (a term that shows the surprising fact that, for a species with about 228,132 words, we still need a bigger vocabulary!), but its undeniable that Green’s novel is largely well-known on the Internet, and so writing about it has the potential to attract scored of TFiOS-mad nerdfighters, who may violently and verbally disagree with my, rather strong, opinions on things like prams.

But my biggest problem with reviewing The Fault In Our Stars is that reading it was one of the most enjoyable and engaging days of my life so far, and I want to remember that day and the experiences of it as a memory, as an idealisation of a perfect, reading-filled 24 hours. If I write about it in great detail right now, as I could, it would compartmentalise and formalise my opinions of the book into 700 words which, while objectively helpful in showing the deluded opinions of seventeen-year-old James, would be subjectively catastrophic: the uncertainty of my past, and the resulting endless scope for exaggeration, debate and wonder about it, is one of the most enjoyable things of my life.

It is for this reason that I choose to share some of my life with you through the medium of prose: blogging puts the focus on the responses to the basic events of my life, rather than something like a vlog or Flickr account, which place the emphasis on a documentary-style capturing of the individual events of life. These forms of recording aren’t in some way less valid than the responses to them, but I am of the opinion that anyone can live a life, and so interest is derived from commenting on it. This is why I don’t take pictures of significant life events (diagnosis with Diabetes, first gig, A-level results day), because I want to be able to discuss them, and discussion is easiest when the basic events are the foggiest – you could start a discussion by talking about those very events.

So while you could argue that writing a review would only make a record of opinions that could change, I feel that my memories of TFiOS would be restricted to those in that review; if I don’t find space to mention the idea that Amsterdam represents Heaven, and America and Van Houten represent Earthly reality, I may well forget that idea, which is, in my opinion, the coolest idea of the book. Equally, I’ve written an album review, but not of my favourite album (Anavae’s Dimensions), and I’ve never reviewed my favourite game (Mass Effect 2).

So I’m not writing a review of a book, a fundamental attempt to realise broad ideas, because of my own undying pursuit of broad ideas (a pursuit that would make Lenin himself weep with appreciation). Maybe I’ll just wait for the film to come out, and moan that it wasn’t quite right with everyone else.

-Links:

Styles Of Reading

Augustus and Hazel’s Absolutely Okay Afterlife

Words in the English language

Prams Are Evil

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8 thoughts on “I’m Not Reviewing A Book

      1. Yes. Many many times.

        I just typically wait to read popular books until I happen to find them in a used bookstore for really cheap or someone gets so bent out of shape that they just loan me the book for free.

          1. Probably. I’ll eventually get around to it. Most of my reading is based on what I find at the used stores around here. With how popular it is, I’m sure I’ll find it soon. It’s on my list of “buy if under $3 and not torn up” list.

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