Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Book #49: The Fault in Our Stars
"Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book." Hazel, The Fault in Our Stars, pg. 33.
I'm sorry to be reviewing two books by the same author in a row, but if my review of Paper Towns didn't convince you that John Green is a modern master of literature, pay close attention to this review, or be prepared to miss out on one of the most amazing books of your reading career.
I had heard that The Fault in Our Stars was amazing from a few different people, and I didn't doubt it since what I have read by Green has been nothing short of awesome so far. This book, though it was published this past January, is catching like fire because it's probably the best thing Green has written so far. For those interested in the title, it comes from Shakespeare's Julius Cesar, the full quote being: "The fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings."
As my Young Adult Literature professor put it, "no one can write a novel about kids with cancer like John Green." Ahhh there it is, the "C-word". But do not fear readers! I agree that only Green could craft such a wrenching, yet hilarious and overall beautiful novel about such a subject. The main character, Hazel, is a 16-year old girl who has basically been slowly dying for years from cancer. She had a miracle a few years earlier where she was basically on the brink of death from the disease, but kept on living. She is not healed, and is on oxygen 24/7. However, she is doing her best to live life as best she can, which most of the time means sitting at home with her mom and watching reruns of America's Next Top Model and re-reading a book with which she is in love called An Imperial Affliction.
When Hazel is forced into a support group with a cliche, ridiculous leader who wants everyone to get touchy-feely about their feelings and whatnot, she dreads the meetings, and spends them communicating with her half-blind friend Issac through sighs of boredom and frustration. However, one night, Issac brings a friend with him - a one-legged GORGEOUS cancer survivor who is also Hazel's age: Augustus. He approaches Hazel after the meeting and the two become fast friends, finding many similarities between themselves despite some definite differences.
The Fault in Our Stars follows the story of Hazel and Augustus, two young people who have seen and been through far worse in their 16 years than most of us will in a lifetime. Together they struggle with questions about their lives and diseases, but more importantly, they try to experience life as just two teenagers finding out about themselves and one another. They each have a witty sense of humor that kept me laughing, even at the "cancer jokes" they swapped. As Hazel says of her own favorite book, The Fault in Our Stars "...is not a cancer book, because cancer books suck" (pg. 48). The book is less about cancer than it is about the lives of Hazel and Augustus and their relationships with one another and the other characters. It's hard to explain the plot without giving lots away, so all I can say is READ IT! I did cry a few times over the course of the novel, but I also smiled and laughed aloud. And I thought, deeply. Hazel and Augustus, like all of John Green's characters, are more than just one-dimensional teenagers concerned with the latest celebrity breakups and the new popular song. They are smart, really really smart, and witty, and a little jaded, and just absolutely incredible to read about. Of the now three John Green novels that I have read, this is by far my favorite. I know that it's a classified Young Adult novel, but I feel that anyone, no matter how long ago his or her teenage years are, can appreciate this work of brilliance.