Monday, 24 June 2013

The Fault in our Stars

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Author: John Green
Genre: Modern Fiction, YA
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 313
Publisher: Dutton Books
First Published: 2012
First Line: "Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death."

Book DescriptionDespite 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.

My Thoughts: This is a book that I noticed months ago while perusing the aisles at my local Chapters and it was put on my 'TBR (To Be Read) List' immediately.  It's gotten a lot of hype (which may or may not be the kiss of death for a book).  In this case the hype is warranted.

This was a touching read.  Even though you know it's going to be a sad book (it deals with teenagers with cancer-ravaged bodies) and will, most likely, deal with death it doesn't detract from enjoying this book.  You'd think that a book that focuses on a group of teens with cancer would be a huge tear fest from beginning to end but for the most part this book was funny and, in a strange way, uplifting and oh so very touching.  Yes, it's a veritable roller coaster of emotions.  But it works.

For me, what makes this book stand out are the characters.  Not only are Hazel and Augustus well-rounded and completely engaging characters but the secondary characters, including Isaac and the sets of parents, are all complete and give believable voices to the book.  It's these characters and their relationships with each other that truly shine in this book.

Let's get back to Hazel and Augustus.  I loved Hazel from the first line of the book.  Her dry wit, sarcasm and humour.  Loved her.  Augustus held his own too and I adored their hilarious banter.  He had some amazing lines in the book that I immediately wrote down because they were just 'that good'.  Here's some of my favs ...

"Oh, I wouldn’t mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a

privilege to have my heart broken by you.”

"But, while not all stories have happy endings, 
it doesn’t make their journey any less beautiful."

“That’s the thing about pain… It demands to be felt.”

"Some infinities are bigger than other infinities"
“I love you present tense”
Some would argue that 'normal teenagers' don't speak like Hazel and Augustus.  I know that I didn't sound quite so cool at that age but, man, would I loved to have been!  I will admit that they had a certain "Dawson's Creek/more mature than their years" way of speaking.  But, I loved their sarcasm and just their voices in general. {I'm actually a little surprised and impressed at how well John Green got into the head of a teenage girl.} 
Hazel, Augustus (and even Isaac) were believable even if how they said what they said was a little mature for them.  Plus, these aren't normal teens.  These are kids who have dealt with cancer and the threat of death for YEARS.  Honestly, I found Hazel and Augustus to have a more quirky feel to them than being too unbelievably mature for their age.  These teens, after years of treatments, losing friends to the disease that they themselves have, trying to stay strong for their families and friends ... have accepted their fates.  They have cancer.  Cancer SUCKS but their cancers don't define or limit who they are.  They still have life to live.  That's empowering and uplifting.

One of the things that I liked was getting an inside view into the life of a teen with cancer.  Hazel was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer at the age of 13.  Since then she knows that death is hovering over her but with the help of a miracle drug she has been able to lead a pretty normal life (even though she has to lug an oxygen tank around with her for when her lungs suck at being lungs).  Hazel knows she's living on borrowed time and she hates feeling like an emotional grenade so she tries as hard as possible to minimize the emotional shrapnel that she'll cause her friends and family when she finally dies.  Hazel is hunkering down for the inevitable ... until she meets Augustus. 

The one and only thing that I felt detracted from me giving this a full on "5 star review" was the addition of the book storyline (a book that Hazel and Augustus are infatuated with).  It broke away from their relationship and, I feel, bogged down the storyline too. It may also stem from the fact that I just didn't 'get' the book.

This is a book about the strength of the human spirit, the bravery and resilience of a bunch of teens who were dealt a really tough lot in life.  It shows the nastiness of cancer and the strength we gain from connecting with others.  It reminds us that we can still make a huge impact on the lives of our loved ones even if we may not be around long enough to make an impact on the world at large. 

Here's a quote from the book that sums up how I feel about this book:

"I fell in love the way you fall asleep.  Slowly.  Then all at once." 

Oh yes.  This book got to me slowly and totally captivated me before I knew what was coming. 

Highly recommended.

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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