Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: 10th January 2012 (1st published Nov 2011)
Pages: 313
Book Source: Own purchase

Synopsis: 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. 

My Thoughts: 
The Fault In Our Stars is beautifully written. Not sure it'll make my favourite read list this year but I'm very glad I read it. I'm sure each person reading it takes something different from the experience ... here's what I thought:

Cancer and death aren't strangers to me, cancer like many other happenstances is sad and shitty and unfair and very un-pretty. There's nothing fun or light-hearted about it but there is still this very human capacity to grasp joy with both hands, to joke in the midst of tears, to cry and laugh in the same breath.  I think John Green captures this ... for me anyway. 

After our baby girl's funeral I remember someone heading outside for a cigarette and someone else making the throw-away comment "that's another nail in your coffin" then looking horrified at the timing of their gaffe ... open mouth stick leg in. My reaction was to laugh and laugh, mind you somewhat hysterically but 23 years later, it's that memory that I don't mind recalling. Isn't it sometimes that morbid sense of humour that gets us through the worst times.

Hazel is living with Thyroid cancer, Augustus with Osteosarcoma and Isaac, eye cancer; they're courageous, funny, vulnerable and sad and still just regular teens with a shitty card draw. 
Gus is pretentious and many of Hazel and Gus's conversations are philosophical, metaphorical and yep pretentious ... is it realistic dialogue for intelligent 16 & 17 year olds with a small but concentrated window of life experience? ... probably but I'm not going to debate it. 

What I do believe with all my heart is that little things often become the big things ... savour them. 

What a slut time is. She screws everybody.

Without Pain, How Could We Know Joy? (This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate.)  ... 
how true, I love it!

In reality many people don't die big, some are a drop, others a splash, some ripples. It's human nature to want to mean something to someone but does existing automatically mean you leave a mark on the world? 





22 comments:

  1. After seeing this on so many best of lists last year, I knew I'd have to read it. Thanks for sharing more about it!

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    1. Looking forward to your thoughts. I'm not sure I've conveyed my thoughts very well but I'm so glad I read this one

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  2. This book was wonderful and I really enjoyed it, too. What exactly did your friend mean, though, with "Another nail in your coffin?" That seems pretty insensitive?

    Allison
    Book Reviews

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    1. :) is that not a phrase you use in the US? Another nail in the coffin, an action that will have a negative end. Smoking = another nail in the coffin, one step closer to dying. It's something said often here. The timing at a funeral was rather off, but that often happens with emotional distress but we ended up laughing at the morbid hilarity of it.

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  3. I liked your review and can't wait to listen to my copy!

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    1. Thanks Mary, I'll be looking out for your review!

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  4. This sounds pretty interesting ... I am thinking I might like it... Thanks for the great review!!

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  5. It made my fav list and I'm not a YA fan and I think that is why I had to acknowledge it.

    The dialogue I thought was genuine ONLY because of the books they read and sometimes became there world, so made sense to me. They were not the 'norm' but I understand your thoughts around it.

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    1. I agree Marce, their circumstances molded them. They stuff a lot of life in a smaller time frame with a cancer diagnosis as a child or teen, whether that be through physically doing or experiencing through reading.

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  6. The library has it! Yay :)
    Must read it

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  7. I cried so hard during this book, but I felt a little like I was meant to! I need to read more John Green though

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    1. I know what you mean Marg, and me too on reading more of his work, not sure what next though?

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  8. I loved this book! And I cried buckets of tears! The end seemed so unfair, but that's life! I loved their pretensions conversations, they are what made the book for me. And it makes sense that teens who are having issues with the physical would concentrate on the mental. Filling their brains with knowledge and intellectual stimulation so they don't have to think too hard on their situations. Nice review! Thanks for stopping by my blog, too!

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  9. I teared up I must admit! Great review

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

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  10. I just started this one today!! Woman, you blow me away with your reviews...loved this one!!!!

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  11. I listened tot he audio last July... LOVED it! Not sure if the audio gave it that extra nudge to love or not but this book made me a John Green fan for life!

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  12. I love your thoughts on this book, especially your personal reactions. I really liked this novel. Like you, I am not a stranger to cancer and death. I loved the ways the characters in this book coped with horrific experiences with their dry wit and enjoyment of the terrific moments in life.

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  13. Oh, I loved reading your comments on this book...it is definitely a topic that is hard to read, and even more, to discuss. Thanks for sharing!

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  14. This is too sad for me right now but I do plan on reading it someday.

    What a slut time is. She screws everybody. LOVE IT!

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  15. I have reserved this book from my library so I will be reading this very soon. I think I need to see what all the tissues is for I'm intrigued!

    Brilliant review.

    regards,
    dwayne of Alaska Personal Injury Attorney

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