Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

Oh, hey John Green. I sure have missed you since you've been gone. And now you show up with this follow-up to Paper Townsthat's about child cancer (see my thoughts on book about child cancer here) and there aren't even any Black Santas, new music for me to discover via you, or kick ass pranks to take my mind off the sick and the dying? Ugh. You jerk. Fine, I'll read it. But just because you have A LOT of good will built up.

The Deal: Hazel is dying. She's known that since she was 13 and first got her diagnosis. Augustus is not dying. He did the whole cancer thing, lost a leg and has come out the other side, thank you very much. When the two first meet at the world's most depressing cancer support group (although I guess they'd all be pretty depressing) Hazel is wary of the cute stranger who keeps staring at her, but eventually she gets over it and they become first friends and then something else. Something more complicated. And neither of them are ready to deal with the consequences of falling in love to the backdrop of terminal disease.

What Worked: I mean, it's John Green. The man knows how to write. Both Hazel and Augustus have wicked senses of humor and are the kind of people I'd like to hang out with. Hazel more so than Gus, but she's also the narrator of the book so we spend way more time with her anyway. Reluctantly falling in love is one of my favorite YA tropes and Green ramps up the tension before finally letting those two crazy kids finally get together and it is worth every single doubt and hesitation leading up to that moment.

What Didn't Work: Not a lot. I cried like I was supposed to and stayed up late reading like I was supposed to. As hinted at above, I missed the comic relief that I've come to expect from John Green, because even the funny in this book was gallows funny. Hazel got a little big on the self pity every once in a while, but sister, you're dying. It's cool, I'd yell at my parents some too. Gus sometimes strayed too far towards martyrdom for me, almost as if he was designed to compliment Hazel instead of being his own character. This world was a lot smaller than any other Green book I've read, with Hazel and Gus at the center and everyone else sort of orbiting in and out around them. That took some getting used to but I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing.

Anything Extra Special?:


Hazel and Gus bond over books. The awful ones that he likes and the literary one that has been her savior ever since the diagnosis. The extra special part is the way Green writes about Hazel's attachment to this one particular book. It's a feeling I've had for several books over my life and one I could never express so eloquently.

International Travel

Hazel wasted her Make a Wish wish when she was first diagnosed. And the section where they talk about how royally she screwed it up is probably my favorite in the book. But Gus, dear sweet Gus who got a wish when he lost his leg, uses his to take Hazel on a trip. What could be better than falling in love in a foreign city while eating the best meal of your life? Oh yeah, not having TERMINAL CANCER.

Jeez, John Green. I still don't know if I'll ever forgive you for this one.

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