The Week (US)

John Green


John Green has become very judgmental, said Ethan May in The Indianapol­is Star. In The Anthropoce­ne Reviewed, his book of nonfiction, the author of The Fault in Our Stars and other young-adult hits assigns star ratings to Canada geese, Googling strangers, pineapple pizza, and many other random features of modern life. The idea came to him while on a road trip with his brother, fellow novelist and vlogger Hank Green. To amuse themselves, they looked up negative Google reviews of the sights they were passing. “Hank read a review to me, a one-star review of Badlands National Park, that read in its entirety, ‘Not enough mountain,’” he says. He began writing reviews of anything that caught his attention, which developed into the basis of a podcast series. (“In part because I didn’t want to write a book,” he says.) But as the reviews accrued, he realized that they coalesced into a kind of self-portrait.

In 2020, the essays gained a new layer of meaning, said Hannah Yasharoff in

USA Today. When Covid hit, Green, who has obsessivec­ompulsive disorder, found himself unable to stop reading about past disease outbreaks. One piece in the book, fairly, gives plagues a one-star rating. But many an entry offers, in his words, “a soft place in a hard world”—a chance to appreciate isolated pleasures ranging from the Lascaux cave paintings (4.5 stars) to the animated movie comedy Penguins of Madagascar (ditto). In the end, the book became an argument for seeing past life’s troubles to give time to its marvels. “It’s not always easy,” Green says. “But there is so much wonder and joy to be found in giving the gift of our attention.”

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