After an extended [extended] hiatus, I'm back! I just finished The Fault in Our Stars by John Green this weekend, so I have a review (if, you know, you couldn't tell from the title of this blog post). I haven't posted a review in...2 months. Wow. For a book blogger, that's pretty sad. I'm also working on my reviewing layout, because I have a tendency to ramble, and I like to keep things clear. I try to get down everything I feel ,but I can talk a lot.
Let's get on with it, shall we?
(Just a disclaimer: My blog is usually completely clean, language-wise, but there is an instance or two of me not being my entirely angelic self.)
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumors in her lungs... for now.
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumors tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
Right off the bat, I did not cry. Everyone cried, and I'm probably cold and heartless, but I did not. Maybe it's because I was stupid enough to read some Youtube comments, and one of the three comments I read just said the ending. Straight out. I hate those people.
If I were to describe this book in one word, discounting the completely true words like "emotional" and "beautiful," I would call tFiOS "existential." Because it is. And its existentialism is both its strongest and its weakest points. Hazel and Augustus are all about how everything will fade into oblivion and humans will not last forever.
Hazel Lancaster: Hazel was an amazing character. She's brilliant, and a bit existential without going overboard. She's thoughtful. She's strong and she's weak. She refuses to accept and she accepts. Hazel is real.
Augustus Waters: He was definitely swoon-worthy, even with "1.4" legs. He calls Hazel her full name--Hazel Grace. He owns a pack of cigarettes so he can put the killing thing between his lips and not give it the power to kill. But. His existentialism was too much. Sure, all of his quotes about needing to be remembered and the universe just wanting to be noticed made me think, but in the end, it all turned meta. (My thought process: "Oh, the pain! Wait. Why am I being existential? Darn it, I'm so meta...) And the way Augustus went looking for metaphors were there weren't any just bothered me. A lot. Yet still, he's just such a spirited character, so full of life.
Peter Van Houten: I want to avoid spoilers, so I'll say that I reacted to him exactly how I was expected to. And I was satisfied with his character, for the most part.
Side Characters: There was Isaac, who I absolutely adored from page one. (Or two. Or where ever he showed up.) And Kaitlyn managed to be fabulous, even with her tiny part. My issue was with Hazel's parents. Sure, her dad was the emo crier, but they were still a major cliche. Hazel's mother was a helicopter mom, always there. She surprised me in the end, but I didn't like either of them throughout.
An Imperial Affliction: AIA is the imaginary book that Hazel is obsessed with. And John Green presented it as existential, which could have been a major flop. If I had said, "this 'book' is garbage, what is Hazel's deal?" at all the quotes, tFiOS would have been terrible. But An Imperial Affliction was a well-written "book." John Green gambled, and he won.
Prose: The Fault in Our Stars was absolutely beautiful. I could probably pluck at least one quotable quote from each page. I just opened up to a random page. Here's one from page 116: "Most of the time I could forget about it, but the inexorable truth is this: They might be glad to have me around, but I was the alpha and the omega of my parents' suffering."
Cancer: I can't very well talk about tFiOS without discussing cancer. I don't have such a connection to cancer, or even know much about it. But John Green helped me feel all the things anyway. I understood what was going on. And, although I didn't like how the grief was written, Mr. Green cut away all of the crap of having cancer, of how "strong" the survivors are. This book is many things. It's existential, yes, but it's also emotional, it's also beautiful, and, when you put those all together, you get what it truly is: real.
RATING: 8 stars (out of 5)
RELATED SONG: There are a million fan songs I just listened to, my favorite being the eponymous (always wanted to use that word) song by SuperCoolFunnyVideos. (Seriously. The only real instrument is a guitar that two of them play at once. Other than that, they use copies of tFiOS!)