The figurative language of John Green

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about some similes and metaphors from John Green….

I first heard about John Green (pictured above) about eight years ago, when my kids were still teenagers. He was famous to them as a vlogger — a person who posted funny videos on YouTube and who offered an offbeat way of seeing the world. (In John’s case, he did the videos with his equally charming brother, Hank.) John also wrote young adult fiction, which my kids devoured. Green ultimately became famous for his breakout bestseller, The Fault In Our Stars, which was later turned into a movie.

I’m not generally enamoured by most young adult fiction but I loved the book Stars and, as a result, decided to try Green’s newest title, Turtles All the Way DownThe story focuses on a 16-year-old high school student living with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and her search for a fugitive billionaire. Green has said the book addresses a mental illness that has affected his own life since childhood and that while, “the story is fictional, it is also quite personal.”

I found the book carried Green’s trademark spritely and accessible style, although I must confess I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Stars. Still, he offered some very fine figurative language. Here are my favourite examples:

  • He accelerated with the gentle serenity of the Buddhist Zen Master who knows nothing really needs to be done quickly, and his brakes whined like metal machine music, and I loved him.
  • Her legs were crossed, and her left foot was tapping the ground like it was trying to send a Morse code SOS.
  • Davis’s gangly limbs occupied space like an army holds territory.
  • It had started to drizzle a little — one of those cloudy days in Indiana where the sky feels very close to the ground.
  • I looked up at him and smiled, but I could not cinch the lasso on my thoughts, which were galloping all around my brain.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on Nov. 16/17

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