Sunday, May 4, 2014

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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.

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Published January 10th 2012  
Dutton Books

4 Star Rating | Heather from The Blue Owlary:

This book seriously ripped my heart out of my chest and although I’m happy I finally read it to see what the hype was all about, there’s no way I could knowingly put myself through that kind of heartache again over a book!

John Green is an amazing writing and The Fault in Our Stars is proof of that. 

He wrote about cancer like he was an actual doctor and after I read that he lived in Germany for a couple years and researched/corresponded with numerous doctors on the subject (to the point where even his made-up medicine was entirely believable and I wouldn't be surprised if people who got cancer actually asked their doctors about this drug, only to be told it doesn't exist), I had to wonder if writing this book was as cathartic of an experience for him as it was for those who read it.

Hazel and Augustus (Gus) are lovable, witty, thoughtful and sweet with one another in a way that isn’t overly romantic.

“I’m in love with you and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is jut a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”

There were parts I was laughing, but mostly they were endearing and provoked a guarded smile out of me, because they came sandwiched between knot-in-throat inducing moments. 

“I think forever is an incorrect concept,” I answered.

He smirked. “You’re an incorrect concept.”

“I know. That’s why I’m being taken out of the rotation.”

There was A LOT of parts that cut me straight to the bone and caused tears to fall out of my eyes. They couldn't be bothered with the slow descent down my face and went with the all-too-metaphorical free fall approach instead…

“You know how I know you’re a fighter? You called a ten a nine.”

But that wasn't quite right. I called it a nine because I was saving my ten. And here it was, the great and terrible ten, slamming me again and again as I lay still and alone in my bed staring at the ceiling, the waves tossing me against the rocks then pulling me back out to sea so they could launch me again into the jagged face of the cliff, leaving me floating faceup on the water, undrowned.

This book is so philosophical, I could have imagined it being on the syllabus in college, bringing out class-length discussions on The Imperial Affliction alone, the book Hazel and Gus idolize in Fault, which is really just the adult writer in John Green contrasting with the younger, but still deeply-philosophical viewpoints of Hazel and Gus. 

There is religious ambiguity in Fault. At first, I truly thought all the views on death were atheist, but I discovered there is double meaning in a lot of what John Green writes and he constructs his sentences purposefully and carefully for the reader to determine their own meaning at times. Other times, it is the admitted unknown of what happens next: 

“I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it – or my observation of it – is temporary?”

More importantly, The Fault in Our Stars is about being remembered and leaving a mark. Why are some remembered, while others are so easily forgotten after they die? 

The book was turned to the page with Anne Frank’s name, but what got me about it was the fact that right beneath her name there were four Aron Franks. Four. Four Aron Franks without museums, without historical markers, without anyone to mourn them.

Everything about this book was bittersweet. Hazel’s brave reverence in the face of impending death, however vaguely ominous it may be, was so powerful that I thought, ‘So this is how I would feel if I was going to die tomorrow?’ 

‘I missed the future. But thinking about Lidewij and her boyfriend, I felt robbed. I would probably never again see the ocean from thirty thousand feet above, so far up that you can’t make out the waves or any boats, so that the ocean is a great and endless monolith. I could imagine. I could remember it. But I couldn't see it again, and it occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again.’

The Fault in Our Stars was excellently written. Having to see what all the ‘fuss’ was about, I bought the book and allowed it to collect dust on my shelf for six months before I gathered the courage to dive into it, knowing it would probably break my heart, which it did. 

You don’t have to like the book to admit that John Green is severely gifted at what he does, and it would be smart of you to read this cautiously. It’s ridiculous to allow yourself the comforting state of denial you’ll inevitably cling to as you read chapter after chapter, ignorantly assuming there’s no way he’ll go there, because he can and does. He knows where to hit you where it hurts. I kinda hate him for it, but can’t help but admit that The Fault in Our Stars left it’s mark on me, that’s for sure. 

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