I read this book to fill the category of “best-selling YA” for my reading challenge. I have previously read one John Green novel, The Fault in Our Stars, which I didn’t love. I wasn’t planning to read another John Green book, but this one had gotten so many positive reviews that I decided to give it a chance.
I struggled to connect with these characters. The protagonist has serious OCD and germaphobia, but rather than making her seem more human, it felt as though Green was using her as a delivery system for his own OCD-like thoughts.
Every other character in this book humors the protagonist way too much. This allows Green to create conversations where connections are drawn between physical observations, psychology, and existentialism. However, for me, it doesn’t really add up to anything except a bunch of mental masturbation.
The romance falls especially flat to me. The boy is the cliché super-rich-but-down-to-earth, obsessed with astronomy type, which again, is very convenient for Green. Astronomy both lends itself to even more existentialist pontification. Plus, it makes a boy acceptably introspective without being too girly.
There is also a little bit of a mystery plot-line. Although it felt contrived to me, I was willing to go along with it. It kept me in the story.
There was also some tension between the protagonist and her best friend around privilege. To me, that was the most interesting part of the book and I wish that had been explored further.
This is not an especially bad book. It was the avalanche of positive reviews that made it especially disappointing for me.