Friday, February 28, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars


Every once in awhile a book comes along that changes you. When you find that book you find yourself thinking about it well after you've finished it. You set it down regretfully while you're reading it because you don't want to put it down. Once it is finished you are sad that it is over. The Fault in Our Stars was one of these books for me. 

For a brief synopsis: The narrator is Hazel, a sixteen-year-old girl who has dealt with cancer all her life. Her form of cancer, once it was eradicated from her body, left her with fluid in her lungs and the fear that she could get it all again. She meets a boy, Augustus Waters, who is another cancer patient. His cancer left him with an amputated leg. An unlikely and, seemingly, doomed romance ensues between the two. 

I loved the symbolism in this book. It's something you don't see very much in popular literature these days. People are up for instant gratification and no longer like to delve into the deeper meaning of what they read. 

John Green said he wanted to create  a story that showed a less glamorous look at the life of cancer. Throughout the story Hazel demeans this when someone from her support group dies and their Facebook wall lights up with posts about how wonderful, brave, and perfect that person was when, in reality, these people never knew the real person. Being a victim of cancer or a cancer survivor or a cancer patient, in and of itself, is enough to raise you to sainthood. This is one of the ideals Hazel remains constant about and I think it's because Green is trying to tell us that it is ok to humanize the dead, the cancer patient, and the victim. Celebrate that they were human and they lived a life that wasn't altogether perfect but they made the most of it. 

Hazel is very grim at first. She goes around thinking she's a walking time bomb. I loved her voice through Green's writing. She is a smart, intelligible and reliable narrator. There are moments of great insight and others of entertaining humor that all make Green's novel entertaining and valuable to any library. 

Augustus is a strong hero. I was uncomfortable when his illness started making him into a whiny, gloomy child, but Green explained that he did that on purpose. He wanted to show that death is not a pretty thing. Cancer is not pretty. 

I cannot gush on enough about this book. It has humor, romance, history, symbolism, allusion, great dialogue, awesome writing, and a fine attention to detail. You can tell the author has worked hard to create a story that is both entertaining and affective. I highly recommend it to anyone, but I also recommend that you have a tissue or two handy for the ending. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tabitha and Sexy Rexy

As a break from the book reviews, I thought I'd give you, my Thirsty readers, an update on things down here in sunny San Diego.

Pictured above is me with my really good friend Tara. She has been a real blessing to me as a friend and a crazy companion. We've gotten into many shenanigans together. An odd thing I have noticed is that gay men rarely hang out with lesbians. Tara is a lesbian and I am gay, so it's kinda weird that we get along so well. I not only hang with her, but I have made friends with a few other lesbians: Ann and Lincoln. They have been incredible to me.

Tara invited me one night to hang out with her. I met her at Wang's where she was dancing with some new friends she had made. Little did I know that this party she was at was a She-She party. Meaning it was for lesbians. Needless to say I stood out a little. Me and the bartender were the only males in the whole party. I made the most of it and had fun. Oddly enough I did get checked out by women too. They thought I was an incredibly butch lesbian. I wasn't sure how to take that, but whatever.

At the She-She party we decided I needed a lesbian name so I wouldn't feel so left out. For some reason I came up with Tabitha. But you have to say it like you're a macho butch woman, complete with flexing your muscles. Then we gave Tara a gay name so she could be like a gay boy when we go to gay bars for me. Her name was Chad but then we realized one of the bartenders at Babycakes is named Chad. So it has since been revised to be Sexy Rexy.

We also went out together for New Year's Eve. It was quite the night. We went to Bourbon St., a bar off the beaten path. There we saw drunk women try to pole dance and we got our beads and hats you see in the picture above.

All of us go out for Sunday Funday just about every week. It's a good time. We go to Mo's for a brunch and endless mimosas then to Babycakes for drinks and cupcakes.

I met all these great people through a support group for navy homosexuals which was founded by Ann Foster. She and I had been talking all through my deployment about starting up a chapter on my ship. That is still in the works. Regardless of what happens with that, I am glad I am part of GLASS (Gay Lesbian and Supportive Sailors) even if there is no chapter on my ship. I'm still doing what I can to get it done. If I hadn't spoken up to my CO about having more support for gays and lesbians at the command, then I would never have met Ann, Lincoln, Tara, or any of the other great lesbian and gay sailors I have had the pleasure to meet.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Never List


The cute little seller at Warwick's in La Jolla referred me to this book as I was browsing at the store. She said it had kept her up at night and that she was haunted by it. Strong words for any book. So I bought it. She was right to a point. 
Zan's debut is pretty stunning. It is hard to think this is her first book because her voice is so powerful and smooth. The beginning of the book is fantastically written to a point where I was sucked in immediately. Sarah is a disturbingly mental woman. There's no going around that. Zan builds up her character pretty well even to the point where it almost becomes unbelievable. All the dark and painful experiences Sarah went through is alluded to just enough that you get a taste but not so in-depth that you feel like you're reading trash. As a reader you become very sympathetic toward Sarah. Part of the tension and the thrill of it is the fact that she's not very strong and you worry that she's just not going to be able to pull through. 
At some point, however, the book becomes less intriguing. I'm not sure when that happens. I just know by the end I was less involved. Sarah suddenly becomes more apt to be strong. I love good character development, and I was glad Sarah finds herself at the end, but it just seemed too sudden and easy. This girl was a complete mental case (for good reason) and she breaks out of it too quickly in my opinion. I think it would have been better had she just shown signs of getting healed, rather than suddenly being better. 
People keep comparing this book to Gone Girl. I don't think it's a fair comparison. They're completely different. This is Zan's first book, though, so I suppose it is good on her that her debut is being compared to Flynn's (correct me if I'm wrong) third or fourth novel. Only good things are in Zan's future as she continues to write and prove herself as an author. She is a great new female voice in this genre. I will certainly read more of her work.