The Fault in Our Stars--John Green
January 2012 by Dutton Books
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
I know I'm incurring the wrath of all readers everywhere, but this book was just okay.
*comes out from hiding behind the couch* Are the torches and pitchforks gone?
I know, I know. Everyone and their dog loves this book. And I liked it; I really did. But like a few other books (Cinder and The Book Thief), there was so much hype surrounding The Fault in Our Stars that by the time I finally did read it, it didn't stand up to it's own reputation. It was good, but it wasn't super-mega-awesome-foxy-hot. Most of the five-star reviews around Goodreads are something to the point of "ZOMG!! All the feels!!!!!" But I just couldn't get that attached. If I went back and reread it with lower, non-hype expectations, I think I'd like it more. I admit, I did tear up at the end. The infinity line got to me.
The prose flows really well. I don't know if it's because I watch Vlogbrothers videos, but John's voice comes out strongly in his writing. You can tell this is his book. And as for the "they don't talk like normal teens" complaints, meh. Hazel and Augustus do speak in a more elevated manner, but it's not totally implausible I don't see it as pretentious and unrealistic, just a quirk of the characters. And by not siding with either camp, I have now angered both and called back the pitchforks.
I liked Hazel's snark, especially in the support group scenes. Actually, I liked most of what Hazel did and thought. I appreciated the novel's portrayal of cancer. Dying sucks. It's not pretty. There's bodily fluids and progressive weakness and all that jazz. Cancer patients are not manic pixie dream martyrs who naturally better the lives of those around them. In this case, they're teens who don't want to die.
I did not appreciate the language. I know teens swear, but I don't want to read it. It just bugs me. On the whole, it's a good book, it just suffered from the vicious hype monster.