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Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Have You Seen Slender Man?

So, there's been a lot of buzz on the interweb this year about a crazy, freaky game called Slender. In this game, you are locked in a park at night, along with this mysterious entity known as Slenderman

I saw some people playing it online. Their reactions were pretty funny, so I thought I might as well download the game - which is free - and play it whilst I was at school. It didn't look too frightening to me.

I was so wrong.
The whole game takes place at night, inside a large, circular, heavily-wooded park. You are given a flashlight with very little range, and your aim is to find eight pages which have crazy scrawls on them, with messages such as "can't run" and "he sees you" in creepy, scratchy handwriting. Not sounding so bad, is it? The trouble is, they depict this creepy guy called Slenderman. And once you've found the first page...he comes looking. 

The rest of the game is pretty much you trying to get away from him and his creepy thundering music, without dying. The worst part of it all is that if he gets close to you, your screen starts to fill with static as the Slenderman slowly drives you insane. The game is rigged so that you can't exit the game in panic when the static starts to fill your screen, so you either get away or you get freaked out.

But what exactly IS Slenderman?

The myth of Slenderman started on a forum competition on the website Something Awful, entitled "Create Paranormal Images." Slenderman is traditionally depicted as a tall, humanoid being with extra long arms and legs. He can be from 7-15 feet tall and is a passive-aggressive character, often stalking his victims for years at a time, slowly driving them insane until he feels it is safe to kill them.
I won't say too much more, except that the Slenderman myth has stemmed a whole load of games and spin-off series, such as MarbleHornets, a creepy YouTube series which all focuses around the Slenderman. It's an ARG style series - alternate reality game - which means that everything has to appear as realistic as possible. This means that locations, etc, are all real places. It's quite confusing.

If you're still keen on finding out more about Slenderman, I wish you luck. Don't look back, don't stop running. 

ScotsGirl x 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Why John Green is AMAZING

Every year, for the past few years, there has been a massive conference in America called 'VidCon', where lots of people who vlog on YouTube are invited to go and speak, whether about their experiences or just to have a bit of fun with other people. VidCon is quite a big deal, and is watched and attended by millions of people every year. It was first arranged by the so-called 'Kings Of YouTube', the VlogBrothers.

It is one of the VlogBrothers, John Green, that I wish to write about today.

He's an author of some of the most heart-breaking, awe-inspiring, simply GORGEOUS books I have ever had the good fortune to read. He was first recommended to me by my best friend - and some of his books, most noticeably 'A Fault in Our Stars', left me in tears, begging to know what happened to his characters. Although I haven't read his Christmas novel (mainly because I'm only reviewing the ones that I've read so far) I'd just like to give some thoughts on all of his books to date. Dedication or what!

An Abundance of Katherines
The fairly long story of Colin Singleton, a child prodigy who has realised that he may no longer be a prodigy, but just a very smart person. He also has a thing about girls called Katherine - he's dated 19 girls called Katherine, all of whom have played the Dumper and left him the broken-hearted Dumpee. So when Colin and his friend Hassan go on a road trip, they end up in the unlikeliest place, where Colin finds himself surrounded by a very different style of life.
I thought this book was okay, but not his greatest. There are some hysterically funny parts - I actually found myself laughing out loud at one point - but quite a bit of the novel is...I don't really know how to describe it. Not the greatest book, but still one worth reading - especially since Colin invents a formula in which you can predict the timespan of a relationship!

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
The story of two boys - both named Will Grayson - and how one mutual friend collides their worlds together. The story is told from two different viewpoints - Will Grayson, with a nice house and a perfect family, and although lonely, has an extremely dramatic best friend, who helps to cheer things up again - and Will Grayson, who lives in a different state. He hates his life, and lives with his mother - the dad isn't around -  and it's a seemingly random connection that joins those three boys together.
As it was the first book I'd read, it was imperative that John needed to weave an intricate tapestry of words and emotions and characters - and by the fourth chapter, I was hooked. Originally, I'd started it whilst round a mate's house, and the second I got home I went out and bought the book, reading it from cover to cover without stopping until I'd finished the tragic yet absolutely hilarious story that was Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Definitely the book to read if you're new to John Green.

Looking For Alaska
The first John Green book that really touched my heart. The heart breaking story of a nice enough kid who chooses to go away to boarding school for his junior year and makes two new friends, 'The Colonel' and Alaska, a sharp, cheeky teenage girl who has a hell of a lot to give the world. I won't spoil the plot too much but this is definitely, absolutely, a must read. 
I think one of the great things about this book is the sheer number of quotes that can be found within it's pages - the most used being, of course, 'I go to seek a Great Perhaps.' (Francois Rabelais). I think it's a beautifully tragic book - I think it important to mention that most of Green's books are sad, dealing with very real social issues - but nevertheless I just couldn't put it down, not until I had found out what really happened with Alaska, given the title. It did get a couple negative reviews owing to some parts of the book being of a slightly adult nature, so I wouldn't let younger kids read it.

Paper Towns
This is actually a real concept, in which a town can be named as a dot on a map but does not actually exist in real life. Paper Towns follows a boy called Quentin, known as Q, who goes on a treasure hunt - a paper trail, of sorts - in order to find a childhood 'sweetheart', Margo, who was his next door neighbour. Along the way both he and his friends start to question whether they are finding clues where there are none.
This was quite the mystery. It was wonderfully written, weaving together Q and Margo in flashbacks and memories until their destinies seemed to be irreparably entwined with Q finding Margo.
It was a very well written book, but rather confusing at times and I often found myself flicking back through the pages in order to just catch myself back up to speed.

The Fault In Our Stars 
His latest, and undoubtedly best book. This has beaten countless others to become my favourite book, simply because of the heartbreaking love story within its pages. TFIOS tells the story of Hazel, a 16-yr old terminal cancer patient, and how she is dealing with her illness - right up to her weekly Support Group where she meets Isaac, her partially blind cancer survivor friend, and Augustus, who lost a leg to cancer a year before. This heartbreaking novel details how much cancer can affect the best of us, and brings this difficult topic to light in a gentle, sensitive way.
When I finished this book, I cried. I sat there, mourning over the characters as if I knew them personally. And in a strange way, I feel like I did. John Green had brought them to life so effortlessly, yet so elegantly, that you couldn't help but wish that Hazel and Augustus and Isaac were people that you knew and loved.
If you don't read any other John Green novels, read this one. You won't regret it.

I think the market for teen reading has changed dramatically in recent years. Where it used to be 'Catcher in the Rye' and 'To Kill a Mockingbird', it is now 'Twilight' and 'Hunger Games', and whilst I enjoy that kind of fantastical reading, John Green is my favourite author because he manages to make the bleakest of stories the ones that I will want to read over and over and over again. It is an incredibly difficult thing to so, and he has managed to do it so well.

DFTBA, guys.

ScotsGirl X