Authors and April 1st.

As April 1 ends and we all breathe a sigh of relief that we escaped being fooled. Not all of us are so lucky, and not just by friends, no no, but by media and personalities whom we trust and believe they’d never steer us wrong. With Facebook and Twitter allowing access to fans in a more direct manner, celebrities and companies can trick us in very creative ways. What is worse I feel is when you do not realise you have been fooled, it isn’t until a few hours later when it finally clicks that you feel foolish.

My experience was when author John Green posted on Twitter that he had been given the role of Augustus Waters in The Fault in Our Stars Film. Being a day ahead I wasn’t aware that the US had hit April yet so I was still trusting. Alas ’twas not so and I was fooled; I had been going so well all day too. I had but one hour remaining and I was out, fool free for another year. But this is not a post about being fooled, well not entirely. It got me thinking, are there cases where authors are actually allowed to act in their own films? Surely this is possible, directors slip themselves into their works all the time, being on Hitchcock watch is one of my favourite games while watching his films. I did a search and I managed to find this great article by Michelle Orange – Getting in the Act: 11 Novelists Who Found Their Way Into the Script. It is a few years out of date but interesting nonetheless. Not being actors themselves they are typically cameo appearances, not huge speaking roles like John was aiming for; but for fans of authors and the books from whence these pictures came, spotting a familiar face,  or having these fun facts are just an added joy in enjoying the film version of their beloved book (or, as it were compiling a list of complaints about a film ruining their book interrupted only by spotting the familiar face).

There are many authors who do not approve, and many who do, of where films have taken their cherished and slaved over works, and I can’t say even if they did a bang up job, I would be putting my hand up to be cameoing into anything I had written either. This feeling may be a common occurrence which could account for the fact I could only find this list of 11. There may be others I have yet to discover, and now I know it is possible I shall keep an eager eye out in future.

I hope you are already enjoying April, how did we get to month four so soon I don’t even want to think about, I hope you were not fooled too much and I hope you managed to find time to read something spectacular.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Goodreads badgePublished: December 28th 2006
Publisher: Penguin Group
Pages: 256
Format: Book
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.
After. Nothing is ever the same.

What do you say about a beautiful book that touches your soul so much that you feel debriefing and reviewing it takes away the magic? I have finished books I adored and rushed to review, eager to share all the emotions and brilliance and get it out before it consumed me. With Alaska, I took a lot of pleasure just sitting and thinking about this book once I had finished. I could not find the words to explain each wonderful aspect of it that moved me, or made me think about life, and this emotion was why it has been so hard to put this book into words. I have a page of notes that I wrote whilst I read, but they will hardly do it justice. So before we get into it talking about why you should read it, I will simply insist that you must.

I finished Looking For Alaska in four hours, I also finished one day ago, yet I can still see it so clearly in my mind, feel the characters, and feel the power and impact that friendship, fitting in, and being yourself can have on a single person and an entire community. This is Looking for Alaska.

Written in 2005 this is John Green’s debut novel. I know The Fault in the Stars is the current big deal, but I do not want his early works being forgotten either. Every sentence almost is deep and profound, even when it probably isn’t meaning to be. John Green has a way with words that makes the simplest and most innocent things have so much significance. There is a kind of poetry with the similes John uses that make your mind boggle, and there are discussions and references to literature which are masterful and jovial at the same time. John writes this book for teenagers but he does not treat them as children, and he does not underestimate their ability to think critically, or to appreciate the grandest and simplest aspects of life.

The story begins with Miles, and Miles is a normal teenage. The problem for Miles is he needs an escape. He has no friends, a dull life, and a desire inspired by poet Francois Rabelais to search for his own Great Perhaps. Miles leaves behind his ordinary and noneventful life and enters into the world of boarding school and into a chaotic exhilaration; though despite his desire for a fresh start, there is no instant change as Miles is still trying to find his place in the world. I think that by watching Miles adjust, and ponder the workings of himself and those around him that we get some wonderful insights; not only about school and the kinds of people are and pretend to be, but also about Miles, and by association, about ourselves.

The entire book has Miles trying to figure out who he is and what it all means, but with friends like the Colonel, and the utterly fascinating Alaska, Miles becomes Pudge, his life becomes an adventure of risk, new experiences, and relationships he never could have imagined. He takes responsibility and changes his own life for himself, but there is always a part of the old Miles lingering, something I think is very true of a lot of people. Change can be as different on the outside, but left alone with your thoughts you can be a completely different person on the inside. Something I think John has demonstrated wonderfully.

What I do adore is the amount of research that John clearly has put into this book. This was not an overnight thing, he worked on this for years and it shows, in every tiny detail and reference. From Melville’s white whale, to the Labyrinth, to the classroom discussions on religion, to the intricate details of the boarding school grounds; John has put thought and planning into this marvellous story and there is a true sense of respect for the reader. He offers you secrets and the way he has told this story you are actually ok if they are not exactly answered, not everything needs a conclusion.

This book was under threat of being banned in a school in America, luckily the fight to allow it won because I just cannot imagine people being forbidden to read this book. You can learn so much about yourself, even if you are past your schooling years, it will not matter; there are parts of Pudge, parts of Miles, parts of Alaska and parts of everyone else in this book in all of us I assure you.

A small part of me feels this review is not doing this book the justice I feel it deserves, there is just so much taken from this than cannot be explained in a review. If it is not Pudge and his affection for famous last words; if it isn’t Alaska’s extremeness, fierce loyalty, and personal library; if it isn’t the Colonel’s antics and friendship; and if it isn’t the simple fact it is a story about a group of teenagers just trying to find their way in the world, then I do not know what it is. I will say that I hope, like me, that once you have finished this book and you sit back and reflect on it you will love it a little bit more each time. I know initial feelings and emotions of books fade, but then there are those books where they don’t. This is one of those books.

 

You can purchase Looking For Alaska via the following

Amazon

Bookworld

Booktopia

Barnes and Noble

QBD

Angus and Robertson

A lot of anywhere else really too

Just a note to say…

Yes, I know I am being unconventional, ‘why is she uploading a non book review related post right in the middle of her series post? It will ruin the flow she so desperately wanted and irk her minor controlling nature of perfection she tries to hide.’ The reason dear readers is number one, this is not totally unbook related, and second because I feel the need to make a proclamation. I stumbled across a brilliant vlog on YouTube. And for those who do not know what a vlog is good news! neither did I. But I have slowly started to find these little gems of joy and happiness and need to share. A vlog is pretty much what yours truly here is doing but with pretty pictures and editing techniques that we in the world of typey typey cannot do. Though if you wish I could come back and edit in random pictures and add lyrics to give the illusion of fancy editing. But I digress.

This proclamation is about how I have just spent the better part of the past three hours during this frankly not overly beautiful or going outside welcome kind of day watching video after video of this vlog I found. I will tell you what it is but before I do I do want to point out that this is a very popular vlog and one that has been going for so many years it is rather embarrassing how long it has taken me to find it so please don’t hate me for being one of those people who suddenly discovers something and thinks it’s all well and wonderful when people have been thinking it is all well and wonderful for the past six years, which is how long this thing has been going. Any who! The vlog I found was the vlogbrothers channel and I have to say after a few videos I was fairly certain I was I love with one of the brothers and I am not entirely ashamed to say it was Hank.

Now to the important and relevant part that started these rambles of happiness off. After watching a series of these videos for the better part of the three hours on my overcast and otherwise uneventful Tuesday, I came across the newer posts and found out that the other brother (the one who I was only starting to love but just as intensely) was a writer. Oh isn’t that wonderful and cool, a writer on a vlog I like, I like writing, he has some great insights I love his thoughts on life and general nature of being a person. All the typical emotions one experiences when one is very excited and swept up in the fast paced action these two brothers emit and use in their allures to charm people like me to their crazy, adorable (though I apologise for calling grown men adorable but they are so deal with it), witty life and insights into the world around us (slight flashback to the great nature show that used to be on Channel Seven, shout out to old Australian TV shows.)

So as I am enjoying this second brother John who seems just as amazing and insightful and very charming like his other brother counterpart Hank, what do I discover? As the next video automatically starts in that sometimes helpful, sometimes not helpful way YouTube does, I see dear brother John talking about how he had finally finished signing the final sheet for his new book. Now I had seen a couple where I knew he had a book so I was rather pleased for him, nice that he had written a book, sounds all wonderful considering I had no real idea who they were or what was really going on. And then the marvellous moment happened: John shows us the copy of his book, and I have the greatest moment of my life (slight exaggeration for the purpose of the topic) as I realise that all this time I had inadvertently been watching and falling in love with the vlog of the guy who wrote The Fault in Our Stars. I have to say I was ecstatic (no exaggeration for blog purposes). I had been sitting here listening about how this guy had other books and all these other things thinking I quite liked him and might find out what these books actually were and then this happens. Now, I will admit that dear poor John may have been second best to other brother Hank who stole my heart initially with his chaotic and marvellous ways, but John did manage to get himself into almost equal place before my realisation so I will have no claims of liking for the sake of liking. I have since concluded that I love them equally for different things as they offer different things.

I do realise that this has very little to do with anything, trust me, but I would also like to take this moment to say that I will now intentionally hunting down this book (not hard, it is everywhere) and reviewing it at the first possible chance. I would also like to mention that I did actually have every intention of reading this book because it was raved about but now I have seen John in action and seen how quirky and amazing he and his brother are I want to read it for other purposes. I know having a book praised and talked about in every possible instance can make people think you are only reading it because it is said to be wonderful and I will say in part that is true, but also because I had a very close friend (her blog is here and her goodreads review is here) also praised this book, and I would like to say I trust her judgement about these things more than a few thousand/million people who praise a book (see Twilight phenomenon).

As I was saying I have heard brilliant upon brilliant things about John‘s book The Fault in the Stars and if possible I am finding the others as well because I know this is his sixth book it seems and I think a back catalogue is required as well. I can’t be liking someone for one book and one book alone. If only I’d know I could have been enjoying him (in the through the book and internet sense) all these years. I would like to blame the fact they were in America, and I would like to blame the fact the other books may slightly not have made as big of a fuss as The Fault in our Stars did over here, and also in part I probably was not paying that much attention if they had, but also because until a few years ago I didn’t even know what a blog was, let alone a vlog and so I wasn’t even looking for these kinds of things on the Internet. YouTube was pretty foreign to me for its first few years and I have no real shame in admitting that it kind of still is aside from my few subscribed thing. I have no interest in cats and watching children say weird and stupid things so unless I stumble across something through a video I was actually looking for or subscribe to, then YouTube is 99% uncharted territory in my world.

There may be people out there who loved The Fault in Our Stars who didn’t know there was a vlog, or there may be others who have loved the vlog for years. If you know not of the book or the blog then you must find out about both and get investigating. As soon as I have finished The Fault in Our Stars you will know about it and I hope you check out Hank and John’s vlog because it does actually have a lot about The Fault in Our Stars, but it has oh so much more about life, nerd things, funny things, obscure things, writing things and just strange ‘why am I watching this’ things. And! And! There is a Narnia connection because Hank darling has a map of the realm of Narnia on his wall in one of the early videos. May you fall in love like I have.

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