Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Publisher: Dutton Books (Penguin), 2012 (Hardcover)
Length: 313 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Realistic Fiction
Started: February 28, 2013
Finished: March 5, 2013

Summary:
From the inside cover:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

Review:
This book has received so much hype and so much love it doesn't need an introduction. John Green's books are a hit or miss with me. The man is a freaking brilliant writer, it's just that some of his stories don't hit it off with me. This book however, was a glaring exception; it is brilliance, love, and profundity on paper, and I adored it.

Hazel is 16-years-old and has Stage IV thyroid cancer. Thanks to a new drug, her life has been extended, but it's only a matter of time. Since she faces her own mortality every single day, she has a wit and insightfulness about her that normal teenagers don't have, so she definitely doesn't come across as a realistic teenager, but given the whole scenario is about kids dying of cancer, I can ignore the fact that the teenaged characters aren't your average kids. Augustus does come off pretty pretentious at first, normally it would bother me but I didn't even mind so much. Issac is a nice addition, and I wish we'd seen more of him (I think my favourite scene was towards the end when he and Hazel are issuing perverted commands to his video game, it was hilarious).

I love the themes presented here. The characters have to deal with concepts as teenagers that most people don't face until old age: life and death, knowing you will die soon and leaving people behind, and being afraid that you'll die without leaving any kind of mark upon the world and won't be remembered. Hazel also has the added guilt of being an only child and worrying about her mother in particular having a life beyond caring for her.

I won't lie, this book will make you bawl like a baby, especially if you have watched someone close to you wither away and die from from cancer. I give the author credit because he doesn't portray the kids as super heroic and bathed in a fragile sickly glow, they get angry and pissed off because they're dying and expel any and all sorts of bodily fluids because that's what cancer does, so I appreciate the no-holds-barred honesty here.

Recommendation:
I'm not doing the book any justice with this review, so I'll just say READ IT. Seriously, it's worth it. You will laugh and cry and contemplate the meaning of life and suffering, but it's so worth it. Plus the whole novel is so full of quotable lines it's amazing.

Thoughts on the cover:
Considering there's not much that would have been appropriate as the cover, I think they did a good job. Perhaps a constellation-filled sky would've worked, but I like the blue and the cloud-like shapes.


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