Read: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Saturday, 24 May 2014

I had seen lots of tweets proclaiming 'This book will make you cry!' and as a part-time softie, fully expected to experience the waterworks while reading this novel about teenage cancer sufferers falling in love. But I didn't.

That's not to say the tragic plight of 17 year olds, Hazel with thyroid and lung cancer and Augustus with osteosarcoma, is not emotive, as they are handled with grace, sensitivity and dark humour. For me it was that the characters didn't always read as natural in a book rooted in naturalism - the young characters suffered from what I call Dawson Creek Syndrome, sounding like fully qualified analytical psychiatrists in there everyday speech bar the odd 'whatever'. The dialogue often felt forced and overly pretentious which detracted from the characters believability. 

The tender intensity of first love however, is delivered beautifully in the softer, less OTT moments, such as the pairs habit of simply saying 'Okay' to each other when they didn't know what to say, or to check on each other or for a number of other reason all wrapped up in this one word.

Another line that really resonated was the concept of how you can fall in love with someone at different paces. Augustus professed his love early on for Hazel but she tried to hold back, determined for there to be as few victims as possible because of her illness, she tried to keep their relationship platonic but eventually admitted to herself 'I fell in love the way you fall asleep...slowly, then all at once'

With Hazel's prognosis terminal, mortality is a huge theme in the book. Probably the most heartbreaking moments were ones that looked at Hazel's fear of hurting her lost ones.

"I'm like. Like. I'm like a grenade, Mom. I'm a grenade and at some point I'm going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?"

'"NO!" I shouted. " I'm not eating dinner, and I can't stay healthy, because I'm not healthy. I am dying, Mom. I am going to die and leave you here alone and you won't have me to hover around and you won't be a mother anymore, and I'm sorry, but I can't do anything about it, okay?!"'

The moment's when Hazel sounded her age, like a regular teenager always hit home harder the injustice of losing someone so young.

The concept of legacy from the point of view of a person so young, who has known they were never going to live long, is an interesting one and Hazel and Augustus felt differently about it. Do we need to make an impact on the whole world or is touching the hearts of our loved ones enough?

"Here's the thing about Hazel: Almost everyone is obsessed with leaving a mark upon the world. Bequeathing a legacy. Outlasting death. We all want to be remembered. I do, too. That's what bothers me most, is being another unremembered casualty in the ancient and inglorious war against disease.

I want to leave a mark."

Despite my misgivings, the book is incredibly well written and researched; the hospital and cancer detail and terminology is detailed yet treated glibly by the weary survivors and this makes it all the more poignant. The book is clearly aimed at young adults and I'm going to try and get my 16 year old sister to read, as the sombre topic and offbeat characters are right up her teenage angst ridden street.

The Fault In Our Stars has been turned into a movie too starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort and will be in cinemas June 6th. Check the trailer here:

All images taken from The fault in our stars, and

1 comment:

  1. I read this book after all of the hype and I'll admit I was a little disappointed. I did think it was good but that was about it and I much prefer Looking For Alaska by John Green! Fab review

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