I wouldn't call this post a review because I haven't really reviewed anything, nor have I summarised or really critiqued in great detail but "that's the thing about pain ... it demands to be felt" and sometimes you can't express the pain you feel when you read a book that breaks your heart up to the very last word. This is "not a cancer book". Sure, a lot of the characters in the book have cancer but it's a classic love story: boy meets girl - boy once had cancer lost a leg (maybe not so classic), girl still has cancer and carries her own tank of oxygen that keeps her alive - girl and boy do a book swap - boy hunts down author of book - boy and girl travel to Amsterdam in search of the infuriating author - boy and girl fall in love, make love, boy admits he's dying - boy dies - boy leaves girl a beautiful love letter. *floods of tears ensue*
I think when you read a book that generates so much buzz about it, it's safe to say you develop, (no need) almost unachievable expectations from words on a piece of paper. I would have paid good money to have been in that Penguin Office when the first copy of The Fault came through because you could have read it without external influences subconsciously giving you a preconceived idea of how good or not this book was going to be, my goodness wouldn’t that have been an amazing experience. As much as I enjoyed reading John Green's The Fault in Our Stars I think it has to be said that it exuded Gatsbian tendencies, in the sense that it is hands down a fantastic book with an emotive plot but one could argue it ran the risk of getting lost in its own propaganda, through no fault of its own, rather its eager fans who really can't be blamed either. With that being said this is a uniquely beautiful book with such precious moments that could only be found in such a quaint love story.
It may have taken me four times to read this book in order to form a coherent response to its heavily hyped awesome-ness but I got there ... eventually - two paper copies, one kindle version and one audio book later. After it being talked about, almost to death might I add, I borrowed a copy to read, which after reading I had to go out and buy my own just so I could read it over and over again because TFiOS is a book I couldn't help but fall in love with. I found it mind boggling how something so classic such as good ol' Shakey's (Shakespeare - for those of you who are not au fait with my idiosyncratic idiolect) Julius Caesar where Cassius says to Brutus, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are are underlinings" it is truly astounding how something so quintessentially classic can evolve into something so modern and relevant.
John Green has definitely hit the jackpot with TFiOS - it borders on a movement of a generation -, not to forget the phenomenal job he did creating the characters Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace Lancaster. I fell in love with Augustus and Hazel "slowly and then all at once" it was so beautifully extraordinary. I have a tendency to fall hard for fictional characters - it's the wonder of fiction - particularly the male ones and Augustus Waters is no different.
Augustus Waters:- I admire his characterisation so much, the way he comes across so jovial yet is able to be a walking metaphor is such literary genius. Augustus is a heartthrob. You do not need to be able to see this boy to know you've fallen in love, you fall in love with his insides, his wit, his charm, his carefree demeanour, his crabby driving skills, all of it and then some. You want to love him and love him hard because "the heart cannot be denied from true love" .
Hazel Grace:- It's not often I fall in love with female characters but Hazel Grace has definitely pulled on my heart strings. I thought I knew how her story was going to pan out, not her cancer story, her story. Then brilliant Mr Green decided to pull a rather sneaky 180 on me, which I loved and hated for all the right reasons. Hazel is a truly remarkable individual - I feel the audio book did not do her justice at all. It did not even come close to encompassing the zeal she felt for life, specifically after meeting Gus, but also the inner conflict she has. To consider herself a grenade that she kept herself away from people to limit the impact of her destruction is ironic because she falls in love with her own grenade. Only then does she realise "the foolishness of trying to save others from my own impending fragmentation: I couldn't unlove Augustus Waters. And I didn't want to."
It's cute and it's quirky much like young love.
It's awkward, it's random much like most of adolescence.
There were times when the book deviated from what I wanted to read but, it's a book. It's not my book. It's not telling the story I want to tell and quite frankly if you stay along for the journey John Green takes you on you will not regret it.
I can't lie when I first read it I cried. When I watched the movie, I cried. I felt like such a baby because I knew it was coming but seeing it play out on a screen really just breaks your heart over and over again. This book, this film and the wider concept that is TFiOS brand has an undeniable power, when I finished reading the book I had this reflective sadness about me, this book just makes you realise how unfair life can be. In watching the tragedy of their love unfold you learn something beautiful, "You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world ... but you do have some say in who hurts you".
TFIOS quotes stay with, whether that is for a life time or a year is still to be determined but I know for a fact that "My thoughts are the stars I can't fathom into constellations" is one that will stay with me for a heck of a long time because it reminds me of such a beautiful poem written by such a beautiful person that essentially allows the person to give their heart away in the most sublime manner.
To the characters of TFiOS ...
"It has been a privilege to have my heart broken by you".