I've mentioned it a bagillion times, but it's finally here. The last Thursday of the month, a.k.a. the day I (and Kay!) review the book of the month. If you haven't seen my 76 plugs over the last month, click here for all the info (there will also be a page on my blog shortly). Also if you've reviewed this book, link your post in the comments below. And so, as I ramble a bit in this review, we're cutting this introduction short: Join the bookclub, please :)
Title: The Fault In Our Stars
Author: John Green
Main Plot: For Hazel, her cancer diagnosis might as well have been her death sentence, but after a miracle treatment, she has much more time on her hands than she'd expected. Little did she know, that time would be filled with people and adventures she'd never forget. Little did she know it'd be infinite.
"You're so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are."
"Come quickly, I am tasting the stars." (what Dom Pérignon said after inventing champagne)
"What am I at war with? ... My cancer is me. The tumors are made of me. They're made of me as surely as my brain and my heart are made of me. It's a civil war [...], with a predetermined winner."
"So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay."
"Hazel is different. She walks lightly, old man. She walks lightly upon the earth."
Basically, the last 4 pages of the damn novel!
My Rating: 5 or infinity.
How do I even write a review of this book? I'm searching for the words to describe what I'm feeling but nothing feels right beneath my fingertips. Instead, my hands have been hanging over the keyboard, not unlike Tyrannosaurus Rex hands, as I search for something to say. So instead of trying to write a review worthy of this novel, I'm just going to write, and hope like hell it's not a total fail and that most of you don't quit reading 1/4 of the way in.
It's been a little over 3 weeks since I finished this book, 2 weeks since I saw the movie, which gave me plenty of time to think about what I feel and plenty of time to forget the story in a way. Yet, still, after plowing through five Mortal Instruments books, I haven't forgotten it at all. Everything is still vivid in my mind, including the fact that the day after seeing the movie, I figured out how I feel about this novel. I hate it. I hate it because it was beautiful and it ended.
The novel opens perfectly. "Late in the winter of my seventeen year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death. Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying." From the first three sentences, I knew everything I needed to know about our narrator, Hazel Grace Lancaster, and I absolutely loved her. It was clear that despite the fact that having cancer sucked, she was going to narrate this story how she saw it: a inevitable, unchangeable state of being that she had accepted and was going to live with for as long as her lungs decided to carry her.
In the past, I commented that I was jealous of the writing of a few authors. But, holy shit, I wish I wrote like John Green. There is just something about the way his sentences are crafted; they aren't overwrought or over-thought or over- anything. They aren't under- anything, either. It's fluid, but simple and complex at the same time. Conversational yet descriptive and poetic all at once. I never had to reread a sentence or paragraph to understand it, unless of course I wanted to, which I frequently did. There is an ease to his writing that I cannot explain. I adore it the way that I adore Jane Austen's prose. I sound like the biggest Nerdfighter right now, and there are probably some people out there groaning over my John Green praise, but I can't help it. He's become an auto-buy author for me. In the words of Hazel Grace, I'd read his grocery list.
It has been criticized that Hazel and Augustus are "too mature for their age" based on the way they speak throughout the novel. I reread a few passages to see why I didn't sense this "too mature" thing while I was reading. I think it's because Hazel's narrating voice, the one in her head, isn't like that. She describes her lungs as "suck[ing] at being lungs" and tells them to "keep [their] shit together". Her support group blows and is "depressing as hell". And in the first chapter, she thinks Augustus is "dead sexy" (I'm inclined to agree). It was only in the dialogue that I noticed a maturity in their voices that seemed beyond their years, which didn't strike me as an error in character development as much as a smart teenager trying to sound even smarter. I'm not so far removed from high school that I don't remember using big words and trying to sound sophisticated. So for me, this adds to the "normalcy" of these characters.
I didn't relate directly to this book. I'm cancer-free, which I now realize is something worth thinking about and thanking my stars for everyday instead of complaining about my everyday life. (Not that I wasn't thankful for everything in my life before but still...) Yet in some ways, I envy the characters in this book. Many reviewers consider this novel to be a sad one, and while, they're not wrong I can't label it that. Sure, there were sad moments. Admittedly, I cried for 1/3 of both the book and the movie, and when I say cry, I mean uncontrollable-tears-I-forgot-tissues-thank-goodness-I-wasn't-wearing-makeup sobbing. In fact, this novel broke my heart. But it also made me feel good. I laughed until my stomach muscles spazzed, until I cried from the laughter; I smiled so hard my cheeks hurt; and I longed for the relationships the characters had with each other - well, all but one (I'm looking at you, Van Houten!).
Overall, for me, the message of The Fault In Our Stars was this: It could be so much worse, and even so, it's not actually that bad at all; it's actually kind of beautiful.
Have you read the book? If so, talk to me in the comments below.
Oh & the book for July is: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. There will be an update on the Goodreads page and I'll probably mention it again at the beginning of the month, but there you have it!