“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.”
[Edit: I had a wave of guilt after posting this, worrying that others might somehow see this review and get spoiled. This review contains a lot of spoilers, like the title says. If you haven’t read The Fault in Our Stars, please do NOT read this.]
Goodreads says that I rate 49% of the books I read with four stars. Only 17% get five stars. Like Hazel reserved her ten, I reserve my five because I know that books like this exist.
I don’t usually do book reviews on my blog because, honestly, I’m not very good at them. But for Tracy Neithercott’s YA Book Club, I’m going to give it my best shot.
This book was trouble from the start. Within two chapters, I was completely in love with Hazel and Augustus. Did I know there would be death? Of course. For all of the hype that this is not a cancer book, it’s a freaking cancer book. It is what it is. But I couldn’t help falling for the characters anyway.
Augustus killed me. This is where he won me: “‘Right, that’s why I said tomorrow,’ he said. ‘I want to see you again tonight. But I’m willing to wait all night and much of tomorrow.'” I even read that scene out loud to my husband, and he just smirked because, when we first fell for each other, we made a date for the coming Friday. I instant messaged him (God, I’m old) and told him I couldn’t wait for Friday. It was Thursday. We went on our first date on Thursday instead.
I don’t think I’d be the first person to compare TFIOS to the recent movie 50/50, which had me similarly wrecked–except for with TFIOS, I at least got to sob in the privacy of my own living room. There’s something so perfect about pairing tragedy and comedy. Sometimes humor can make things bearable. Sometimes it’s the only thing that can.
It seemed like a lot of people had trouble with how mature and eloquent Hazel and Augustus were, but I didn’t see it. When I was in high school, I was melodramatic as hell. Philosophizing was NOT beyond me at age 17. And I knew people my age who spoke just like this. Who wanted things to be metaphorical. It was absurd and obnoxious and completely pretentious, just like in TFIOS. At least in the novel, Augustus doesn’t get a free pass to be his pretentious-ass self–Hazel calls him out on it. Prefers the real version of him, outside of the pretenses. I loved that.
The story was a bit predictable, at least for me. After reading, I wasn’t sure why Green was so adamant about containing spoilers. As though a person might pick up this book and NOT know that Augustus would die. Or that idols, no matter their form, are inherently disappointing.
But the predictability didn’t turn me off. It made my heart ache, because I knew why Augustus was shouting at his mom before the Amsterdam trip. Their infinity was numbered from the beginning, and watching their star-crossed love unfold was nearly torturous–despite being also hilarious and tingly-making.
And that Venn diagram. That was pure genius. It deserves its own line in this review.
Of course, I need the obligatory cried-my-eyes-out line. Because I totally did. It got really messy, and I snotted a little on my sweater sleeves because I couldn’t bring myself to get up and get a tissue. I couldn’t pull myself away.
Side note: I kept thinking that Green would end the novel in the middle of a sentence, just like in An Imperial Affliction. That whole meta, novel within a novel thing made me think a lot about how much of a story we create on our own after the book is read. How many liberties we take with the characters. We bring them with us. Set them on new paths. Whatever Van Houten could have told Hazel about Anna’s mom and The Dutch Tulip Man, Hazel could just as easily have created herself. She didn’t need him to tell her the fate of the hamster–she already figured it out for herself, anyway. I like to think that the characters belonged just as much to her and Augustus as they did to Van Houten. That’s the nature of fiction.
So, have you read THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (I hope so, because if you haven’t you just spoiled the crap out of yourself–assuming this story can be spoiled)? What did you make of it?