Friday, June 29, 2012

My friend, Harry Potter

During my sophomore year of high school I decided to read the Harry Potter books for a second time.  I read the first three and then read the final four in July 2009 after seeing the sixth movie in theaters.  Then in September 2010 I read them a third time and in July 2011, when the final film was released, a fourth time.  The more I read them, the more Harry Potter went from books on a shelf to characters and worlds that were mine.  As strange as it sounds, the Harry Potter series has become a friend to me.  When I pick up the first book tears sting my eyes because it's as if I haven't seen this friend in so long.  When I read the last page I feel a sense of loss.  What now?  It is like I have lost a friend.  But that is the wonderful thing about books - they are always there to welcome you home.
Now it is almost July and suddenly I have the familiar urge to read Harry Potter once again.  It could be that July will be the first anniversary of the final film.  It could be that I watched the final film last night for a film class.  It could be that my friend is reading the first book for the first time and I'm super jealous!  Or it could be that my family is planning on visiting Oswego, NY for a weekend where I seem to read Harry Potter a lot! (Re-read the 3rd book there in 2007, finished the last book there in the summer of 2007, re-read the 4th book summer 2009, and re-read the 5th book there during fall break in my sophomore year of college!)  Wow, that's a lot of "it could's".  Oh, and one more.  It could be that I just bought an awesome Harry Potter shirt!

Needless to say, Harry Potter is a HUGE part of my life.  I've grown up with the books and went from seeing them as just a fantasy series to a series that teaches me to love, accept, and to realize.  That's pretty powerful stuff.  Most people seem to overlook the series for a number of reasons.  1. It's just for kids.  FALSE.  This series is for all ages!  As the story progresses it becomes so dark that it shys away from the kid label.  I hate labels.  People use them to define and stereotype.  2. They aren't scholarly.  FALSE!  Many themes I study as an English major are present in these books.  In a recent article, Suzanne Keen states that Harry Potter themes resemble those of Dickens and students who have read Potter are responding much more to Dickens than students who haven't read the series.  Another my school, we are constantly forced as English majors to become more aware of non-western literature.  Several of my professors are appalled at our lack of non-western knowledge.  Now this isn't a bad thing however, recently my African Folklore professor said he didn't bother reading the Harry Potter books.  His tone almost suggested that they were a waste of his time.  The street goes both ways here people!  And 3. I'll just watch the movies.  Face plant!  Seriously?  The films are good but they don't hold the magic and literary element of the books.  The films have become such an icon that scholars have come to overlook the series and not take it seriously!  People see Harry Potter as a money spinner, especially after the last film was split into two parts.  And the final film, Deathly Hallows Pt.2 which stands apart from all the others, didn't receive one award from the academy!  Not one!  That says a lot about today's culture.

While Harry Potter has the respect of many there are also those who say it's just a book and it's just something nerds and fan girls read.  I went from an obsessive teenager to a woman who now understands and Harry Potter played a huge part in this.  I am currently collecting all of the U.K. publishing's of the books (three different ones).  I also just submitted an application to record a podcast with Mugglenet Academia to discuss, hopefully, Christianity in the books and I plan to take avid notes when I re-read the books.  I can't wait!  Of course the seven books will go toward my 50 books of 2012 and I hope to read them sometime this summer before the fall semester begins.  I guess this is the English major coming out of me.  :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Reading: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

“But it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he has Cassius note, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves.”
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

NOTE - I'm not quite sure why I say certain things in this review, mainly referring to my apparent love for Augusts Waters. Did I seriously like that whole cigarette thing when I first read the book? I don't remember feeling that way but I want to make it clear that I think it is the most overrated and ridiculous attempt of John Green to make a deep character that, like most of his characters, is stupid. Sorry awesome John Green who I really respect and adore but don't enjoy your books. Sorry. My opinions have vastly changed and I still don't like this book. I want to make a note that John Green's intentions for this book are really great in that people who have cancer in novels and movies always seem to be some kind of martyr and he didn't want to make cancer seem heroic. Cancer sucks. That concept is really deep and cool! But this book is just not that. It is not! I also want to make a few more things clear since I am writing this. The dialogue in this book, which I failed to comment on in both my reviews of this book apparently, is terrible! No teenager is this sophisticated! These kids are practically perfect. In some ways they can be compared to Bella Swan because their perfection is borderline no personality. Yep, I just made a connection to Twilight. No regrets. I felt a need to write this above this review because I want to make the record clear. Thank you. - 09/16/14

In the world of tumblr and youtube and teen angst there is a writer named John Green who is looked at as the god of YA fiction writing.  Over the course of a few years, I have become more and more familiar with John Green and his latest novel was one that I couldn't wait to pick up.  I'd never read John Green before but had only seen him and his brother Hank on youtube (they are the famous Vlog Brothers), and various (I may add – awesome) quotes of his show up all over the internet – some of which you can see on my tumblr page.  Most recently I have also discovered John and his brother created a youtube channel called Crash Course which is quite similar to youtube sensation's Charlieissocoollike's Fun Science except it has a much more in class feel and looks a bit more professional.  Needless to say, it seems like John Green is the man.  But personally, after reading The Fault in Our Stars, I feel it's safe to say that the title of man still goes and will remain with John Williams.  That's a joke by the way…just watch this video and you'll understand. 
            Okay so to the review.  The Fault In Our Stars is a teen love story – girl meets boy and something connects them and they go on this amazing journey together and one dies.  Forgive me for saying this but, this broad storyline was a turnoff for me.  It seems like all we hear today are cheesy love stories.  They are not just in books but in movies and music and TV shows.  Why can't there be a story about girl meets boy and they are just friends?!  I mean, this was a nice love story and all but it wasn't as great as everyone is making it out to be.  It's no Twilight…oh wait.  Scratch that, it's no Pride and Prejudice.  Now I know John Green probably wasn't going for the whole epic love story, or at least that’s what it seems like.  I guess I just assumed this vlog brother awesome nerd fighter would write a book about something other than a teenage love story.  Another thing that turned me off to the novel was the title.  The story seemed to imply that it isn't human's that should be held responsible for what happens on the earth…hence it is the fault in our stars and not ourselves.  Now, that is partly true.  We as humans can't control the weather or where we are born or each other, but we can control ourselves.  You can't blame the stars for the night you got drunk and killed someone while driving.  My opinion is that we all were born with faults and hardships, some more than others, but we are responsible for ourselves and you can't blame the stars for your actions.  Of course you could blame the stars for the life you have been given but there is always someone that has it worse and life shouldn't be a pity party.  It all depends on how you look at situations and how you pick yourself up. 
            So let's go to the positives of this novel because there were many things I did like.  First off, I really liked Augustus.  He was definitely my favorite character of the novel.  I loved that he smoked cigarettes without lighting them to show the cigarette companies didn't have power over him and I loved that he was outgoing and read the book Hazel loved and quoted it and analyzed it.  I also loved when the novel took place in Amsterdam.  The experience Augustus and Hazel shared was one that I think we all have had, even if it wasn't with a significant other.  I also liked that when the character Issac was about to loose his eye sight, Augustus played video games with him.  It was like a ceremony for the last time he'd see a TV screen and be able to play like this…like he was making the most of his last minutes he had left with his eyes.  That was another thing I loved about Augustus.  He understood how to make people feel better and he seemed to always put their needs before his own.  He was selfless.  And one last thing I loved was what Peter Van Houten says: “What a slut time is. She screws everybody.”
            Overall, this book was a good read but I feel it was overrated.  John Green is a great writer but I don't like that he writes mostly teenage love stories.  I still plan to read his other novels so we will see how those ones go for me.  I give this 2 out of 5 stars.
            Anyway, I would love to hear what you guys thought of the novel if you read it.  Do you like John Green?  Do you think my review was accurate or do you disagree with some of my points? Let me know in my tumblr askbox and I will surely answer you with a private message.  I would love to discuss the book with someone!