|I almost didn’t read this because I tend to ignore what gets TOO much hype and I didn’t like the cover. But while reading it, I was like this:
This book romanticises cancer in the very best and possibly only way. And when I say ‘romanticise’ I am not inferring that it makes it appealing; I didn’t run off thinking : ‘I gotta get me some cancer!’ The way Twilight made me want to get me some ‘Edward,’ but it makes you see that the only thing worth living for is beauty. Beauty of kindness, love and understanding and the appreciation of the littlest things that matter the most. I put it down pitying those who live forever without understanding the magnificence of the world we live in, and praying that those destined to live brief lives manage to glean every second of joy from it possible, the way our protagonists strive to.
I put it down not feeling sorry for the cancer victim, but glad to have known her. And in the end, that’s all we want-for someone to have been glad to know us.
Hazel-Grace is dying, and from the very beginning you understand that she is not going to live far past that moment when the last page is turned. But unlike every other book in this genre, I didn’t find myself wishing for a cure-but wishing for her to soar, if only for a moment. Most of us spend our lives, as Augustus says, trying to leave our ‘scar’ on the planet and yet it rarely brings the happiness one can get from sitting by a fire with a pot of tea and a good book. Books like this make the world worth living in. Like full moons, and shooting stars and the sound of babies giggling or really good spooning in freshly washed sheets-the little things are the biggest things and Hazel and Augustus know this and because they know this they have already lived better than most. And when the little things matter the most, the big things hold less weight.
In my life, cancer is the foe of several friends, one of which is impossibly young and terminal and desperate to stay. I never know how to interact with these friends. Even those who are cured. There’s never a right way to say: ‘Oh god I pity you. I want you to know I care and that I think of you all the time but when I’m standing here I am speechless, because I love this world and I couldn’t bear to part with it and the fact that you will or almost did because your body is traitorous HORRIFIES me!’
But in the TFIOS, you see that they know this, and they need us to get the words right. To keep them in our hearts and minds and care and most importantly-don’t rob them of more time than they have, by treating them like they’re already gone. They need to laugh and connect and know that they matter not because of what they have, but who they are. This book isn’t a ‘How-to-handle-terminally-ill-people’ guide, but it’s definitely got enough what NOT to do’s in there and should be read for that merit alone.
I was struck by a conversation near the end between Hazel and her friend. Her friend inquires : ‘What was it like?’ Yet she’s not asking of the tragedy, but of the romance. And I thought : ‘Aahhhh….you got it right.’
The fault In Our Stars made me want to ‘get it right’.
It’s a fantastic book with an epic love story that eclipses most others. It’s funny and touching and as close as I can imagine a ‘realistic’ cancer-riddled life would be. I don’t know-I’d love to know what teenage-cancer victims think of this. Maybe they don’t care at all about some bloody book written by a perfectly healthy person while they’re so sick they’re wishing for death, and rightfully so. But their opinions matter regardless.
If I had to compare it to anything, I’d recommend smushing together ‘The Perks Of being A Wallflower’ ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ and ‘The Silver Lining’s Playbook.’
Not everyone is going to love this. There’s a looooot of referencing a fictional work of fiction and a lot of quotes and re-cycled poetry. In fact, over-quoting by writers can make me twitchy-if you’re so hung up on what someone else wrote that it’s robbed you of your own ability to think of something significant then why bother writing at all? Why shouldn’t I just read that thing you’re quoting from? But luckily, John Green has enough ‘Damn! he said that now I think it!’ moments to get away with it of his own. There’s a lot of suffering here, but not as many tear-jerking moments as you might expect. I know My Sister’s Keeper had me RAINING tears for at least an hour and a half solid but the moments that will make your eyes water in this will make your heart swell as well so it’s worth it. The final three pages, especially. Not so much ‘Boo-Hoo’ as ‘Woo! Boo Hoo…. Woo!’
I love these characters. I love how they interact and I have a special soft spot for Isaac. Their dialogue, admittedly, is a wee bit educated for a bunch of teenagers, and reminds me a lot of Dawson’s Creek. It’s not realistic (well, for the teenagers I know) but like Dawson’s Creek, it is entertaining. And you can’t help but think that if you were dying, and moving was so difficult and breathing a chore and hope a commodity-wouldn’t you use your words to leave your mark? Besides, who wants to read a book of realistic dialogue? ‘FML-I have Cancer. Like for a confession?’ Pass!
And I find myself obsessing a bit about Amsterdam-a country I’ve never given a second thought beyond a horrific scene in ‘Eurotrip’ so well played John, well played! Clogs and white asparagus and making out in Anne’s attic anyone???
I’m going to give this book 5 stars because it changed the way I think about a lot of things. There wasn’t an unlikeable character in it. Though a bit predictable, this isn’t the kind of book you should pick up expecting plot-twists anyway, but a book you should endeavour to read so you understand something that is in desperate need of understanding.
I highly recommend!!! Put down your werewolves and your shirtless tattooed bad guys with hearts of gold and give this not so long book your time! Put down the fourteen year old saving us all from dystopian hell, your alpha with handcuffs, your blood-suckling sultry sirens and read this. And to the legions of you reading my own bestseller (Bless all 4 of you 😉 ) put it down and read the fault In Our Stars! It’s worth it.
Before I sign off, I’d like to take a minute to PLUG the audiobook version-which I listened to. This chick is INCREDIBLE! I don’t feel so much that I read it, as that i went to the movie in widescreen! I read a lot of audio too, so I know what I’m on about here! I couldn’t turn it off. In fact I snagged myself on a lot of inanimate objects via headphone cord because of it and unabashedly, cranked it up so I couldn’t hear my kids babbling whenever we were in the car 😉