★★★★★/★★★★★ The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.
“There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.”
After reading Looking For Alaska, I needed to read more of John Green, and after I finished reading this one, I decided I want to read everything this author has ever written. It follows Hazel and Augustus, two kids with cancer, their parents, and their friends, and them trying to find how “some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”
The biggest reason to read this book is his form of writing, he threads sentences together in such a beautiful way that it makes sense, even if some purple prose seeps through, I am still able to understand what he means:“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” Is it weird that I understood that? No, it is something every basic reader should feel when reading a magnificent book. Green transports me to his book, I live inside the pages and drink the words, yes, he makes me speak fancy.
The second biggest reasons is his smart and clever characters. Loads of people criticize him for the wit his teen characters posses(check my Looking For Alaska review for more info), but I adore them, because I find myself in them. Hazel is a young woman who has realized she will die, but that does not stop her from taking classes at a community college, or spending her days watching reality TV, or being forced by her mother in a very nice way to join a support group because mum believes she is depressed. Augustus is a cocky brat, very pretentious, but lovable and happy. He lost a leg to cancer, but he is happy, until things happen, and his character goes from loving to hating himself. Isaac is that friend that we all want, because he is the one that will come to your house and break your things because he is angry, and you will just smile at it, then hug them, and go on to play video games for a bunch of hours. He is that one witty friend that delivers amazing one-liners. Van Houten, that ape! Yes, we will think he will give us all the answers to his book, “An Imperial Affliction,” but we will get to know him, and there is so much more to him, don’t be mad, open yourself to his character, and you will find a world.
Only appropriate time to use the word slut: “What a slut time is. She screws everybody.”
Another reason, he plays with our emotions too well. I cried reading this book, and I don’t like to cry, but I had to. Do not let this discourage you from reading this magnificence. Here we see the reality of death, and a desire to be loved and remembered by everyone, which Augustus seems to have a hard time grasping.
“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world…but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.”
And lastly, parents play an important part. Yes, finally! There is a scene in the book when Hazel is in one of her moments as a child that she hears her mother say “I won’t be a mom anymore”, or something along those lines, and it felt perfect to have parents be presented as parents that will suffer once the child is gone rather than a parent that has always been absent, or who will move on because they have someone else with them. Here the parents are a big deal, even if they have very few lines, because they are present, even when not speaking. I loved this, equally to the family importance in Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.
Now the big dilemma people have with this book: they say it is sick-lit, and that it glamorizes cancer. Have these people read the book? Because logically, it makes no sense such a thing would come out of their mouths. I did not think after reading this book “oh cancer sounds fun, let me go put my head in a microwave to get it,” neither did I think “once I am sick I have to find someone that will love me and then change my sick self to be more attractive.” Read My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult if you want sick lit. TFIOS is a book about two teenagers that happen to have cancer, and their friend, who also had cancer, and other people who also had cancer, and their parents, who do not have cancer, and a writer whose book about someone with an illness helped these kids come to an understanding of what would happen. No, this is not sick-lit, not all books that feature characters with an illness is a book that only revolves around the illness. Will you call a book Mexican-lit because it has a main protagonist or other character that is Mexican? No, because that would be offensive, because the book can have genres with a varied set of characters.
I thank John Green for writing this book, because I had insight into something I had never known first-hand, because I have seen people with cancer, and all I could do was sit and wait for them to get better or worse, and here I had a platform for both. I thank him for bringing me into the young-adult-non-dystopian genre. For having characters like me instead of a dumb teenager that only needs a male-white saviour. Simply for writing this and Looking for Alaska.
Now do not read this part if you have not read the book, since it is an important quote:
“Augustus Waters was a self-aggrandizing bastard. But we forgive him. We forgive him not because he had a heart as figuratively good as his literal one sucked, or because he knew more about how to hold a cigarette than any nonsmoker in history, or because he got eighteen years when he should’ve gotten more.’
‘Seventeen,’ Gus corrected.
‘I’m assuming you’ve got some time, you interrupting bastard.
‘I’m telling you,’ Isaac continued, ‘Augustus Waters talked so much that he’d interrupt you at his own funeral. And he was pretentious: Sweet Jesus Christ, that kid never took a piss without pondering the abundant metaphorical resonances of human waste production. And he was vain: I do not believe I have ever met a more physically attractive person who was more acutely aware of his own physical attractiveness.
’But I will say this: When the scientists of the future show up at my house with robot eyes and they tell me to try them on, I will tell the scientists to screw off, because I do not want to see a world without him.’”