In One Line: Teenage cancer sucks, ok? (especially when you’re super intelligent)
- There is no point denying it. John Green is a fabulous writer. Possibly one of the greatest YA writers of our time. His tone is light and sparkling here, which means that instead of being conscious of reading, you feel like you’re just floating through his words. I read the book in two sittings, and really hated ever having to put it down.
- Feelings. There are going to be lots of them, and you have to know that they are coming from the mere premise of the book. I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so nervous to start a book before, just because of all the Feels I was anticipating.
- All the character are brilliant. There isn’t anyone who is letting the side down, apart from maybe the assistant to Peter the Writer, who is probably just a narrative device. Of particular note is Isaac, Augustus’ soon-to-be-blind-from-cancer best friend, who is just a joy. I could have easily had a bit more of him actually.
- I was sort of doubtful that John Green could write a first-person female character, but I think he pretty much nails it. I mean, Hazel is actually written in this genderless way, but I suspect that that is what someone who is fiercely intelligent and dying of cancer would be like.
- I read this book straight after The Humans by Matt Haig, which I believe is out in May (review coming nearer publication date!). The Humans made me cry and feel really real in this horribly mortal way (the way only a really good book can) so when I came to The Fault in our Stars I was already pretty raw. I suspected that The Fault in our Stars would therefore turn me into a ridiculous puddle of feelings, but oddly, it didn’t. And I think that’s because The Humans resonated with me as something completely honest, and The Fault in our Stars felt like artifice. The Fault declares itself to be fiction in the author’s note, and as well as being a book about cancer it’s also a book about reading, so I felt a little removed from what was going on. In other words, I was really conscious that I was reading a work of fiction, and for that reason I didn’t open up emotionally to it (by comparison, I cried in The Humans because it really made me confront my own humanity).
- Did you guys ever watch Dawson’s Creek and were all like, ‘real kids don’t talk like that, but this is an AMAZING show’? Well The Fault in our Stars is a bit like that. I’ve never met young people who are able to articulate themselves in such an adult way (probably more than adult - I’m all grown up and I can’t articulate myself like the characters in this book!) and probably never will, but that doesn’t stop you from engaging. What I’m trying to say, is that if you’re looking for characters you can recognise for their brutal honesty and realism, you won’t find it here.
- There’s a book within a book thing going on here, a book that has the characters in this novel so obsessed that they journey to Amsterdam with Augustus’ wish to meet the author and find out what happens next. I feel like if this book within the book is so important, couldn’t it be a little better?
- Because John Green declares to the reader from the outset that the book needs to be taken as FICTION, I kind of feel like I can’t criticise it, because anything I point out an imaginary Green just goes ‘but that doesn’t matter. It’s fiction’. Smooth move Green.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver