The Outlaw Life

running, reading, blogging, loving

[07] The Fault in Our Stars


‘All salvation is temporary,’ Augustus shot back. ‘I bought them a minute. Maybe that’s the minute that buys them an hour that buys them a year. No one’s going to buy them forever, Hazel Grace, but my life bought them a minute. And that’s not nothing.’

Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace are both 17 years old, and both have cancer. They meet one another one week at a support group, and begin the process of changing each others lives. Augustus uses his Make a Wish to take Hazel to Amsterdam to meet her favorite author, to get questions about her favorite book answered. The author is a lout, drunk and cruel, and the two leave the authors house without any answers. Their trip isn’t wasted, however: they fall in love, have sex, and Gus tells Hazel he’s no longer in remission.

Once they’re back in the States, Gus quickly goes from bad to worse, and he has to leave Hazel behind. But not before offering Hazel’s favorite author a little redemption, and not without leaving Hazel a eulogy worthy of both her and Augustus.

You clench your teeth. You look up. You tell yourself that if they see you cry, it will hurt them, and you will be nothing but A Sadness in their lives, and you must not become a mere sadness, so you will not cry, and you say all of this to yourself while looking up at the ceiling, and then you swallow even though your throat does not want to close and you look at the person who loves you and smile.

The kids in this book are all smart. Like, smart talkers in the vein of The Gilmore Girls or Dawson’s Creek. And while normally this annoys me to no end, I felt here it bordered on just possible enough that I enjoyed it – I found it endearing without being too obnoxious. However, although I really did love the characters, and felt myself being sucked in to the story, I’m not sure how I feel about the novel now that I’m on the other side of it. Of course it was romantic and sad and made me ‘le sigh’ – its a book about terns with cancer who fall in love. Its a well-written Lurlene McDaniels book. I also appreciated and loved the sense of humorous that John Green managed to keep alive (pun intended, obvs) throughout the book:

‘I don’t think you’re dying,’ I said. ‘I think you’ve just got a touch of cancer.’

But, for a book that spends a great deal of time and glib attention talking about stereotypical cancer books that heroize their children heroes, the book does essentially just that. Hazel and Augustus are ultimately the brave, kind, cancer-fighting people they mock; even if they do curse and have sex and make mean jokes about each other. The book makes some interesting differentiations between Hazel, who has always been a terminal patient, and Augustus, who went in to and came out of remission – how that difference effects their views, their hopes, and especially Augustus’s ceaseless obsession with feeling that he has to do something to make his life and death mean something.

Rating: Okay, with some Hell Yeah! bits

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Sussing Out my Twilight-y Feelings


So, here’s the thing. I recently went with my cousins and my mom to go see the latest and last Twilight movie. And it was, without a doubt, one of the most fun and entertaining movies I’ve seen in quite some time. And, yes, I’m mostly aware of how ridiculous that sounds. But I’ve been watching them from the beginning, and although the beginning was SO. BAD. SOBAD. SO SO SO SO BAD. I still really love watching these movies. I mean, there’s just so much of this face:

And, of course, Kristen Stewart doing this a lot:

When I watch the movie and listen to that terrible dialogue (SPIDER MONKEY. He calls her a spider monkey. Seriously. Not to mention there is at least one reference to heroin) and I laugh and laugh and laugh, but I’m so addicted that I literally can’t turn it off, and will watch movie after movie all while thinking in my mind “stop. don’t be doing this. it’s a littleĀ embarrassing. a lot embarrassing”. So, to turn this rambling love-gush in to something resembling a coherent post, after seeing the epic cinematic conclusion of the YA saga, I felt inspired to go back and try to give the books another read, for the first time since the last time I read them in high school. This is a feeling I often seem to come down with after I see a movie based on a book/play/author/generally about semi-bookish people (I can personally thank The Gilmore Girls and a weird kind of fictional-character peer pressure for reading the number of Russian authors I’ve gotten through). The movie often reminds me how much I love the stories that lie within books, which is just a hop skip and jump from reading them again.

And there in lies the rub.


Because, you see…turns out I HATE these books. Which is a very disconcerting thing for me to write, primarily because of how much I LOVE these movies. I go back to read the books and the only things that pop out at me PAGE after PAGE is just how whiny Bella is, how freakishly and intensely overprotective and stalkerish Edward is of Bella, and how SERIOUSLY, SERIOUSLY bad the writing is. While in the movies this bad writing tends to come off more humorous and just kind of, you know, “um…what?!”, in the book it literally causes my brain to hurt. I also have my personal qualms with Bella re: being a completely awful role model for teenage girls and her entire relationship with Edward being a really codependent and unhealthy relationship. However, even more than that, the more and more I try to go back and read the Twilight books, the more I’m struck by how these kinds of books maybe just aren’t up my alley anymore. It’s not YA – I still like quite a bit of the contemporary children’s and YA I run across. It’s these books. These paranormal romance love triangle overwrought teen heartthrob squee books. The kind of books I would have flipped over at 15, and just can’t do anymore.

Weird. Maybe I really am growing up, no matter how often it seems like that’s just not true.


Then again…maybe not.

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[01] The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

September is a willful, stubborn girl who, like most willful, stubborn girls, is one day approached by the spirit of the wind and a green leopard, who whisk her off to Fairyland, where she meets witches, goes on an epic quest for a magic spoon against an evil leader, and has all kinds of adventures – and some sadness too.

Hello, girl version of The Phantom Tollbooth (only not really, because I don’t think that books have genders, and especially not THAT book). But for real, this book follows a general format that definitely echoed Juster’s amazing tale about a bored boy named Milo. But I had absolutely no problem with that, as The Phantom Tollbooth has long been one of my favorite books, and I have a feeling that Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland might just one day join it. There are not only crazy adventures and memorable characters (the “wyverary” – a wyvern/library combo – and a marid named Saturday), but the whole book is written with this tone of the absurd, mixed with literary wordplay and a certain meta-recognition (*note to self: ass*) of fairy tale tropes. It allows the book to poke fun at itself, it’s genre, and to relate to children and tell them a story without teaching down to them or making them feel like using their imagination is a stupid or frivolous thing to do.

Without a doubt, my favorite part of the entire book was when September when to visit the Worsted Wood in the autumn kingdom. Valente created such AMAZING descriptions of the nightly feast and marriage of the prince and princess of autumn, for the entire kingdom is one where nothing changes and everything is gold and amber and smokey and fall and, in my opinion, absolutely wonderful. True, halfway through the Worsted Wood, September begins to turn in to a tree, which was odd, but overall the adventures she had there were the ones I most wished I had been able to have when I was little.

The fact that this book was originally published online raises some interesting discussion about the nature and value of self-published books, especially those that may get picked up by traditional brick-and-mortar publishing houses, which this author desires to make NO comment on, but who would recommend the following article as a starting point!

Rating: OMFGZ

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