Sunday, 24 March 2013

The Fault in Our Stars

So. Many. Feelings. Gahh.
Quite honestly I don't think I have any emotions left after reading this book. I think most people have heard of this book but for anyone reading this who hasn't, the basic premise is this: "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".
Sounds depressing, right? Well, I guess it is in some ways, but at the same time there's so much more to the book which makes it sad, yes, but I wouldn't really call it depressing because that just sounds so negative and overriding, when really what you're left with is such a mixture of feelings that it's well-nigh impossible to disentangle one from the other. 
To be honest I think I'm going to struggle writing this review; this is the kind of book that no words can do justice to, everything in the book needs to be experienced and felt by the reader. (Or, as John Green puts it "pain demands to be felt"). - Not that this is a painful book to read by the way, actually it's exactly the opposite, but it just feels necessary for the reader to go through everything the characters do, knowing all the while that, were the situation real, the emotions felt would be 100x more intense.
Of course, that doesn't mean this book isn't without its faults. For example, there were a few too many similarities with 'Twilight' for my liking. Seriously, Augustus even had a "crooked smile". Oh well, I guess we just have to count our blessings that Augustus didn't sparkle, because otherwise he is pretty much the perfect guy. Anyway, another annoying habit John Green seemed to have when writing this book was overuse of the words 'like' and 'whatever'. I mean, fair enough most teenagers, myself included, do talk like that out of habit, but I doubt most of us would use it in actual writing, but then I imagine it's quite difficult for a, like, 35-year-old man to write from the perspective of a 16-year-old girl. Or whatever. ... . ...
Although John Green does have some annoying tendencies when writing, you do seem to get used to them, though, and to be honest anything that I didn't really like was made up for in Green's beautiful writing style. By his own admission he does have "a way with words" and there are so many great quotes in this book that you couldn't possibly pick out all those which would mean something to different people. However, my favourites were: "my thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations" and "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."
This is definitely a book I'll reread at some point in my life; this time I was so invested in the story and had such a need to know how everything would end that I forgot to pay attention to the wealth of symbols and double meanings that always add to the depth and worth of books. For example, when reading a question and answer with John Green I realised just how many tiny but immensely meaningful things had completely sailed over my head simply because I hadn't been looking for them - seriously I didn't even notice the water symbolism which, now I know about it, is incredibly obvious and brilliant. (That question and answer can be found here, by the way. But it contains HUGE spoilers, so if you haven't read the book, don't look just yet).
So, all I would say is this is a great book and definitely worth a read, even if you hate typically 'depressing' books about kids with cancer, this book really is that little bit different. And in the end it's the mixture of emotions Green makes you feel that makes it unique. By the end you'll be feeling uplifted, sad, hopeful and curious about the future all at the same time - actually quite a weird feeling (or should it be feelings?) but interesting. And, lets be honest, shallow as it sounds, this book is so worth it just for Augustus, and if the film doesn't do him justice I'm sure the director will have a bunch of angry teenagers after him. This is a book you need to prepare yourself for, but, God, it's worth it in the end. 9/10.