If you’ve been paying attention to the YA scene, you’ve probably read one of John Green’s books- he is a celebrated YA contemporary author who has written a lot of very successful novels. After finishing Looking for Alaska, I can finally say that I’ve read all of his books. They’ve all been hit-or-miss for me: I loved some of them and really didn’t like some of them, but I will always respect him for the lifesaver that is Crash Course US History. Without further ado, here is my ranking of John Green’s books, from worst to best!
5. An Abundance of Katherines– 2/5 stars I really did not like this one very much. It’s about a “washed-up child prodigy” named Colin who goes on a road trip with his friends after a messy breakup with his girlfriend. He’s obsessed with patterns and math, and is bent on coming up with a theorem that can predict successful relationships.Colin was kind of arrogant and annoying, and the way he only dated girls named Katherine was slightly contrived. HOWEVER, I thought the footnotes were creative, and the lesson at the end was well-done. The general consensus seems to be that this is JG’s worst book, but it’s still an okay read. I wouldn’t say it’s terrible.
4. Paper Towns– 3/5 stars. Paper Towns is one of JG’s comparatively more hyped-up books and some consider it his best, but I wasn’t a huge fan. It was all right, but the plot was slow and there wasn’t really a point to anything that happens. The story follows a boy named Quentin Jacobson, who has always idolized/crushed on Margo Roth Spiegelman, a girl who is popular and perfect yet mysterious and withdrawn. One night, Margo climbs into Quentin’s bedroom and takes him on a pranking spree to get back at everyone who wronged her. And then the next day, she disappears. At the beginning I thought it would be more of a mystery, but the plot ended up going in a different direction. The characters also feel way too similar to Looking for Alaska, now that I’ve read both. However, Paper Towns has a light, entertaining and fun atmosphere that I did enjoy.
3. Looking for Alaska– 3/5 stars. Looking for Alaska follows 16-year-old Miles as he starts boarding school in search of a more fulfilling life- to find his own “Great Perhaps”. There, he meets troubled and mysterious Alaska Young, and can’t stop himself from falling for her. I didn’t love this book, but I definitely didn’t hate it either. It was quite depressing, and had its share of trademark John Green characters with elaborate philosophies that are clever and profound but end up sounding pretentious the way they are presented in the story. I can never decide if I like that about his writing or not. I’m around the same age as the characters in this book so I’m not saying teenagers are too dumb to understand concepts, but I don’t know anyone who goes around talking like some of the characters in this book. However, the ideas were there even if the execution wasn’t amazing, and I liked the ending better than the first half of the book.
2. The Fault in Our Stars– 4/5 stars. If you weren’t living under a rock for the past 5 years, I KNOW you have heard of this book. The Fault in Our Stars is quite possibly the most hyped YA standalone of the last decade. This is John Green’s most popular work, and it was also the first one I read. The story follows 16-year-old Hazel who is dying from cancer, as she falls in love with Augustus Waters, a boy she meets at her support group. I read this book a year ago, but, just like with Looking for Alaska, I remember being unable to suspend my disbelief enough to take seriously the characters’ sudden monologues complete with eloquent metaphors about the meaning of life. It made for beautiful writing though, and TFIOS has lots of really great quotes, even if the dialogue in which they were said was kind of unrealistic. I absolutely get the hype for this one; it really showcases JG’s writing talent.
1. Turtles All the Way Down- 5/5 stars. Although TATWD is not Green’s most popular book, it was my personal favorite. The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns are all way more “iconic” so at first I thought I might be alone in preferring TATWD, but I’ve actually seen a lot of people recently who agree with me. It’s a shame this book isn’t as widely known. Turtles All the Way Down follows a girl named Aza Holmes as she battles OCD and anxiety while investigating the disappearance of the town millionaire. The first thing I liked about this book compared to JG’s previous works: Romance was NOT the primary plot line, and that was SO refreshing. It still had some romance though. Honestly, if you asked me to name the last time I read a YA book without romance, I could not tell you. This is very much an internal-journey story, but there were still enough external events to prevent it from getting boring. I felt attached to Aza more than the characters in JG’s other books because she actually felt realistic, and although I have never been formally diagnosed with OCD or anxiety I could definitely relate to her thoughts and struggles. The same brand of philosophical musings was definitely present in this book, but I felt like it was executed more skillfully this time and didn’t feel overtly pretentious or fake. It could have been that I was in a less skeptical mood when I read this book, but I think it really was better. Turtles All the Way Down was actually one of the very first reviews I posted on my blog!
Wow, I did not plan to make this post so long, but evidently I had a lot of opinions about these books! What is your favorite John Green book? Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog 🙂