The Anthropocene Reviewed:
Essays on a Human-Centered Planet

- John Green


The Anthropocene is the current geological age, in which human activity has profoundly shaped the planet and its biodiversity. In this remarkable symphony of essays adapted and expanded from his ground-breaking, critically acclaimed podcast, John Green reviews different facets of the human-centered planet – from the QWERTY keyboard and Halley’s Comet to Penguins of Madagascar – on a five-star scale.



My novel Turtles All the Way Down was published in October of 2017, and after spending that month on tour for the book, I came home to Indianapolis and blazed a trail between my children’s tree house and the little room where my wife and I often work, a room that depending on your worldview is either an office or a shed.


While The Anthropocene Reviewed certainly forces a contemplative mood, I ended up wanting to like it more than I actually did.

Every negative comment I have to make about this book, Green beats me to it. He acknowledges the overuse of quotations, the unnecessary rating system, and the overwhelming gloom. I wish rather than just recognising these things, though, he made steps to correct them.

It occurs to me that this book is filled with quotes—maybe overfilled with them. I am also overfilled with quotes.

The best part is reading The Anthropocene Reviewed and hearing Green’s voice in your head. If nothing else, you cannot deny its authenticity. I don’t even need the audiobook (although you could listen to the podcast if that’s what you wanted) – I’ve heard Green’s voice enough over the years that it’s impossible to read his words and not hear it. I admire his honesty; discussing so many personal and sensitive topics must not be easy, and he does it beautifully. Yes, he uses quotes too often, but they usually add context and depth to some stark realities. Yes, the rating system seems unnecessary in these essays, but it is kind of the point of the book. And yes, the overwhelming feeling of gloom is a bit much, but most of these essays reflect on a global pandemic and its effect on humanity and the author himself, so it’s to be expected. I guess I wish that most of the book was less expected. Unfortunately, I think most of these essays are better suited to the podcast I first heard them on. I wish Green had either chosen to include only new essays or made modifications to better suit them to this format.

Green has a mastery over the English language that I never will, and I will always respect him as an author, a creator, and a person. However, I fear that because of my esteem for him, I will constantly be disappointed by the reality of his work.

It’s no wonder we worry about the end of the world. Worlds end all the time.



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