I'll admit it. This book was a complete impulse-buy. I was searching around for something one of my best friends, Rachael, and I could read together that wouldn't be too taxing on our time, and would be a solid choice. I saw TFIOS and picked it up, buying solely into the hype around the book that I'd been flooded with online and on Tumblr. Having watched a couple of John and Hank Green's VlogBrothers vlogs, I already knew they were hilarious and really witty. Like, blink and you're about five minutes behind them witty. So I thought - you know what? I'm not judging a book by its cover strictly speaking. I'm judging a book by its weirdly crushable author and graphic-worthy quotes I've seen on Tumblr. I'm buying it.

So this is what I made of it - solely opinion, please don't take any of this to be any more than my insignificant views written on my not-so comfortable sofa. Spoilers under the jump so if you haven't read the book and plan to, don't click through!

The Fault In Our Stars tells the story of Hazel Grace, a sixteen year old diagnosed with terminal cancer, and how she came to know Augustus Waters, a mysterious and enigmatic boy from her cancer support group who has been in remission for some time now. The book is more classically a love story, not a 'cancer story', as John Green points out he was adamant not to write. And in terms of love stories? It's definitely one of the better ones I've read.

This book is pretty much instantly likeable. Have you ever had the privilege of meeting one of those people who you come away from and think: 'God. They were so nice.' That's pretty much this book's approach to you. It comes at you all hilarious and familiar and ever-so slightly aloof in that way that makes the reader want to know the narrator. Speaking of which - the weirdly crushable John Green chose to write TFIOS from the perspective of a sixteen year old girl - can we just take a moment? I think it takes a particular amount of skill and deftness to be able to write a believable character of the opposite sex. Speaking from experience, I find it nigh-on impossible to write men. I'm just about managing living with one.

So that in itself was the first triumph of the work, for me - that Hazel Grace (protagonist and all-around person I'd like to be friends with) was such a very believable character, and so encompassed in the emotions that we all experienced at 16 - there's some kind of infinite wisdom we have at that age that's mostly forgotten because people get wrapped up in how flippant teenagers can be sometimes. At the heart of her character is this constant pull between the almost transcendental approach to life she has been forced into taking because of her disease, and the struggle with those natural hormonal impulses that come with the territory of sixteen, with all its idealism, the first loves, and first times.

The other thing I loved was that, whilst cancer was front-and-center to the storyline, it wasn't treated with kid gloves - throughout the story we see every ugly, angry, intricate and fascinating detail of the disease. Sometimes it feels like the disease is the third character in a love triangle that forms between Hazel and Augustus, leading to a crushing latter half of the book which, if I'm honest, had me in tears for the last 5-7 chapters. If you read this book, prepare to get heavily invested. It's inevitable. Even when you think you've taken the power and fear out of the illness (another thing Green does remarkably well within the early stages of the book), it still comes and bites you in the ass. There's really no articulate way of summing that feeling up.

I actually found myself trying to detach from Hazel and Augustus' story because, just like in a really good piece of music, I could feel the great emotional 'crescendo' in the story building towards a crashing ending. But it was no use - you fall for Augustus' charm just as much as you fall for Hazel's deadpan wit. They're kind of like the couple you want to be. Ironic, I guess. Maybe that's what ole' JG was going for.

It's enough to say that, when I finished reading, I text Rachael and let her know that I was crying. She said she had done the same. And when both of us went to discuss it, we kept repeating one thing: 'I just loved it'. And I did. It might not be the most highbrow or sophisticated choice, but there's a very good reason why 'The Fault in Our Stars' made number 1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. Simply because the story, much like its author, is wholly lovable and without pretense.

Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.