Welcome to the YA Roundup, giving you the inside scoop on bookish news, book deals, new releases and cover reveals for the YA genre!
This week is our special John Green Edition, included despite being NOT scifi or fantasy but here to serve our YA readers regardless. It also means we’ll abuse the word “okay” at every given opportunity, okay? Okay.
The Fault in Our Stars Movie Discussion
The Fault in Our Stars had a successful weekend with $48.2 million, beating out Divergent and Maleficent on opening day alone with $26.1 million. This success wasn’t surprising and can easily be seen with the popularity of John Green’s novels, which continue to dominate the New York Times Bestsellers list week after week. Just check out all the previous YA Roundups.
It’s garnered a very positive response from critics. But there’s been controversy, of course, with John Green himself shoving his foot way in his mouth. Again. But contrary to popular belief, his stories don’t necessarily add anything new to the genre regardless of what the Hype Train will claim. But as many of us know, saying anything remotely critical causes the hordes of die-hard fans to descend with torches, pitchforks and fire in their hearts.
Clearly, both this novel and movie have sparked passion from both sides of the fence. So, naturally, Kat and I had to see it to form our own opinions. SPOILERS AHEAD, so proceed with caution!
Steph: Kat and I almost always agree on movies and books, but in the case of The Fault in Our Stars, there is a bit of a divide. In one awesome corner of the internet, I really enjoyed the movie (for what it was), yet on the other hand, you, Kat, didn’t. So let’s chat about this. What Fault did you find in those Stars?
Kat: Possibly its biggest fault to me was a lack of enjoyment. If I’m going to not enjoy a movie then it at least has to offer some other experience like educational or emotionally gripping. The Fault in Our Stars felt like an hour and a half of cheap attempts to drag tears from my eyes and nothing else.
If I wanted to cry at white people kissing then I’d watch a Nicholas Sparks movie.
Steph: It does have a rather predictable plot line. Hazel meets the “charming” Augustus and they fall in love only to later discover he’s dying faster than you can “It’s a metaphor.” It’s very close to the book (which I did like despite some reservations), but I admit to crying a few times. Did no tears fall from your eyes?
Kat: You know, I did cry once at the end—but I resented it. I resented it so hard. Because I was crying because a boy was dying of cancer—not because the story was gripping or I was emotionally invested in the characters. The Fault in Our Stars is meant to be John Green’s female main character debut. Instead the book is almost entirely about Gus, centres on Gus and ends almost entirely when Gus dies.
Steph: Yes, that’s true. There is a clear shift in the focus once the audience is finally told he’s dying. And it’s odd because though I did enjoy the movie, I’m not really sure WHY I did. It’s the same feelings I had about the book. Decent writing, albeit pretentious for the age of the characters, and interesting enough for me to keep reading, but nothing significantly special for me to consider it The Next Big Thing. I will say that I did enjoy the acting from Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. I think they pulled off accurate portrayals for the characters. My quip is that Gus comes off as a MAJOR creeper in the movie more than he did in the book. Swiper no Swiping.
Kat: And that’s really the crux of the matter. The film (like the book) is charming and cute, like a kiddie pool and maybe, ultimately just as deep. What I felt was done well, by John Green, was the depiction of cancer. Unlike other movies, both characters are physically marked by the disease and it isn’t pretty.
Steph: For me it feels like a bit of a shock factor. It’s hard for me to deal with one character terminally ill in a movie/novel, but two is just cruel. This is possibly why I’ve been avoiding GRRM’s books. I just have a lot of feels, okay?
Kat: Okay. ;)
Steph: But my favorite scenes in the movie were of the not so funny moments. The scene between Hazel and her mom, where her mom finally acknowledges that she’ll lose Hazel once day. Or the scene where Gus goes to the gas station for a cigarette and he’s throwing up all over himself.
Kat: I have to agree, those were my favourite scenes as well, but they were few and far between an unconvincing romance and the weak shock factor of Gus’s demise.
Steph: They tried to hide that shock factor in the movie. There’s more foreshadowing in the book, which wasn’t needed, that’s removed from the movie. I think it was a short argument that Hazel witnesses between Gus and her mom in Amsterdam, but it’s been a while since I’ve read the book.
Kat: It was an excellent way to detract from Hazel’s own story of personal growth and acceptance of her death—by focusing on the male character entirely.
Steph: But Hazel had already accepted her death. That was the whole point in the beginning where she told him oblivion was inevitable.
Kat: It’s thematically problematic that whatever story Hazel has left to tell, ends when Gus dies.
Steph: Ha. Kinda like the fictitious book, An Imperial Affliction. Her story just ends. Yet instead of her dying… it’s Gus.
Kat: I think we’re never going to fully agree on this one, Steph.
Steph: For me, I think reading the book first lessened the disappointment that I was bound to face after seeing the movie.
Kat: The novel begins when Hazel meets Gus and ends when Gus dies. It’s not unreasonable to argue that he was actually the main character of the book/movie.
Steph: You don’t think they both can be main characters? It’s a story about two teens with cancer effecting change on each other. I don’t really like the shift of focus on Gus, but I wouldn’t go as far to say that Hazel wasn’t the main character.
Kat: They can, but I was disappointed in how it was handled.
Steph: That’s fair. What did you think of the whole “It’s a Metaphor” issue? Personally, I never got it when I read the book and thought it was even more problematic on the big screen. Yes, let’s give money to companies that regularly help cause cancer in people because… of reasons. Psst, it’s a metaphor.
Kat: I thought it was a terrible excuse to have characters look cool smoking, without actually lighting the cigarettes. Totally pointless and ridiculous. But clearly as someone trying to quit at the moment, I’m not feeling very objective.
I spent most of the movie wanting to snatch the cigarette from Gus’s mouth and shove it in my own.
Steph: Can’t take you anywhere, I swear. The best part of the movie was Gus’s friend, Isaac, played by Nat Wolff.
Kat: He was hilarious.
Steph: He had this weird, morbid sense of humor. I just wanted more scenes from him. If I’m not mistaken, he’s playing the lead in John Green’s Paper Towns, right?
Kat: I have no idea. How many John Green movies are they planning on making?
Steph: I don’t know. Probably all of them.
Kat: And you say you can’t take ME anywhere.
Florida Principal Ruins Everyone’s Fun
A Florida Principal has cancelled an entire reading program in an attempt to subvert children from reading a Cory Doctorow book. The Pensacola based school had a One School/One Book summer reading program and had been assigned Little Brother by Cory Doctorow.
The principal took exception to the ‘hacker culture’ elements of the book and claimed it also contained swearing which, point of fact, it doesn’t. The book, according to emails from the principal perpetuated a “positive view of questioning authority, lauding ‘hacker culture’, and discussing sex and sexuality in passing.”
Doctorow responded with a video explanation about his book and an announcement that the book would be free to download to the students of the Pensacola district, thanks to him and his publisher, Tor.
Insurgent Adds Daniel Dae Kim and Keiynan Lonsdale to its Cast
Insurgent has added a slew of names to its already steamrolling production. The two latest additions were signed on this week. Daniel Dae Kim will be playing Jack Kang, a Candor leader who housed members of the Dauntless faction while they were on the run from authorities. Keiynan Lonsdale will be playing Uriah, a character originally introduced in Divergent, but who was not depicted in the movie adaptation.
Insurgent is aiming for a release date of March 20, 2015 with the third book, Allegiant, to be split into two film adaptations for 2016 and 2017 release dates.
New York Times Best Sellers (June 22, 2014)
- The Fault in our Stars by John Green
- Looking for Alaska by John Green
- If I Stay by Gayle Forman
- Paper Towns by John Green
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ranson Riggs
- Divergent by Veronica Roth
- The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
- The Maze Runner by James Dashner
- Dork Diaries by Rachel Renée Russell
- The Selection by Kiera Cass
- Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry
- Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Leaves by Samantha Mabry
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication: Spring 2016
Agent: Michelle Andelman (Regal Literary)
A reimagining of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Rappaccini’s Daughter.” It blends magical realism and mystery to tell the story of a boy who is lured into the world of a girl who is nourished by the poisonous plants that fill her scientist father’s home in San Juan, where legends collide with reality, the bodies of missing girls are washing ashore, and time is running out for the girl filled with poison.
Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
Publication: Spring 2016
Rights: North American
Agent: Catherine Drayton (InkWell Management)
Set during the Second World War, it’s the story of a girl whose father is taken away by the Germans during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. With nowhere else to turn, Anna follows a mysterious man who can speak the language of birds into the wilderness.
Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar
Publication: Spring 2016
Rights: World English
Agent: Sarah Davies (Greenhouse Literary Agency)
Pitched as Holes meets The House on Mango Street, it’s the story of a girl whose feelings about her aged, rambling grandfather are overturned when his tales of a healing tree, a beautiful lake and the imminent return of bees to the desert of New Mexico, start to come true.
Source: Publishers Weekly