Genre: Young Adult
Date Published: 2017
Source: Owned kindle copy
Goodreads Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.
My View: My journey with John Green started 6 years back with Looking for Alaska (my review) which also happened to be my first audiobook. I gushed and went ga-ga over it. It was my favorite book of 2011 and I also bought a paperback later just because I wanted that book in my possession and possibly for a re-read later. After that, I really wanted to read more by him. And so I did. Barely two months later, I read The Fault in Our Stars (my review) in a 4.5-hour reading marathon being awake until the wee hours of the morning. However, the downhill ride had started, I gave this one 3.5 stars.
Three years later, I read Paper Towns (my review) which went further downhill with 3 stars and my long rant about the book being un-John Greenish. And then a year and a half later I picked up Let it Snow which had a story by John Green (my review) – “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle”. This story hit me hard and I felt Green was at his lowest. It was my least liked story in the book. The plot, the characters, nothing appealed to me at all. And after that reading, I had written I will be cautious in buying John Green books from hereon as he can’t always deliver what he did once. But did I remember it for long? Uh huh. That lesson kind of blew away in the wind when more than a year later, I saw this brand new book by Green and sparkling 5 star reviews and it’s getting a place in Goodreads finalists. And I fell for it. I am ashamed to say I did.
So with all that background, you are now equipped enough to understand where I am coming from and how my preceeding rant is justified. When the book began, I felt that Green wanted to change his usual choice of genre. It seemed like I was in for a mystery-thriller. A couple of pages in it felt like probably he was aiming for fantasy. And then some more and I was like yes, maybe he is after romance this time. With all these grappling to understand where the hell this book was going, I was beginning to get impatient. Half way through the book, I felt like throwing it against the wall but sadly I was reading on my phone and had no intention of breaking it. Another thought was to abandon it. But my being a John Green loyalist despite what he has led me through all these years as well as someone who hates leaving books unfinished, went on with it in the hopes that Green will redeem himself in the end. Boy, could I have been more wrong! This book just went from worse to worst. I appreciate and applaud Green for trying to spread awareness about mental illness through the book but really going on and on about it actually does not help to be empathic. In fact, it made me get tired of the protagonist and I am a clinical psychologist! I am supposed to empathize with her but I just couldn’t because he has made Aza a shadow of who she should have been despite the mental illness. I am not sure if it really gives out the right picture. Yes, OCD is horrible, really horrible illness and people have their daily lives taken over but they are certainly not one-dimensional. I did not like a single character in this book. And the amount of liberties Green has taken with his imagination this time around makes this more fit for fantasy than YA. Hundred thousand dollars and tarantua! Oh dear, what were you thinking? No, really! It took you 6 years to write this book! Even though I want to really stand by you and appreciate your hard work and patience, I can’t, I just can’t. This book just does not work. I have been a fan but I can’t be blind nor biased.
The plot, I don’t get what the plot really is about. Nothing catches my attention. I did not feel any emotions during any part of the book. The characters are not well-developed, the storyline is very shaky and the book is just plain bland.
The most scary thing this book has done is made me question my love for Looking for Alaska. I am scared to give it a re-read for the fear that maybe I was mistaken earlier, perhaps it is not such a good book. I am scared to re-read it for the fear I would hate it. And after all those hundreds of people, I recommended this book to. Well, perhaps I should let sleeping dogs lie and be content with the memory of a favorite book and not stir the graves.
Others have loved this book and you may want to give it a try at your own risk but me, I really will have to be more cautious about his books now. I still have to read Will Grayson, Will Grayson and An Abundance of Katherines. Should I? Let me know what you think.
John Green’s first novel, Looking for Alaska, won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award presented by the American Library Association. His second novel, An Abundance of Katherines, was a 2007 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His next novel, Paper Towns, is a New York Times bestseller and won the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best YA Mystery. In January 2012, his most recent novel, The Fault in Our Stars, was met with wide critical acclaim, unprecedented in Green’s career. The praise included rave reviews in Time Magazine and The New York Times, on NPR, and from award-winning author Markus Zusak. The book also topped the New York Times Children’s Paperback Bestseller list for several weeks. Green has also coauthored a book with David Levithan called Will Grayson, Will Grayson, published in 2010. The film rights for all his books, with the exception of Will Grayson Will Grayson, have been optioned to major Hollywood Studios.
In 2007, John and his brother Hank were the hosts of a popular internet blog, “Brotherhood 2.0,” where they discussed their lives, books and current events every day for a year except for weekends and holidays. They still keep a video blog, now called “The Vlog Brothers,” which can be found on the Nerdfighters website, or a direct link here.