This is part of my Summer Reading 2.0 series.
—spoiler alerts ahead—
So much hype has been aroused concerning John Green’s literary genius, and much has been said about his most explosive novel, The Fault in Our Stars. The excitement has finally bubbled up and spilled over into the film industry, as his book turns into a movie, which is already breaking records.
The question burning in my mind: is the hype worth it?
I sat with the hardcover in my hand, looking at the title and cover as the question echoed through my head. I dove in, and finished the book in less than 24 hours.
Hazel Grace Lancaster is a teen who doesn’t know much about what others call a normal life. She struggles to breathe while others take it for granted, and she wishes she could acquire a fake ID so she can do “the pot.”
Through Hazel’s eyes, Augustus seems to be healthy, fearing very little. They have much in common, including their expectation of their favorite author to have the answer to questions that mean much to no one but them…because they really just want to know how the story ends.
This is clearly not a coming-of-age novel. It was not written mainly for teens; it’s a book for everyone, about everyone.
This book is about reality. No, it’s central message is not reality. I, a mere mortal with one read-through, am not qualified to determine the central message, but I know that I very much so enjoyed the non-conventional happy ending.
It poses many questions and answers them in ways other authors might avoid or skip over. We expect problems to always resolve themselves, but Green shows us this is not always the case, such as through Augustus’ death. The reader always thought Hazel Grace would be the one to die, but life throws curveballs that we did not expect, and the way that we (and subsequently Hazel Grace) handle them says a lot about who we are.
And it speaks to how we (including those without a life threatening disease) should go about living our lives. We take everything for granted, even the breaths we take. But in an instant, that privilege can be taken from us, and so we ought to, like Hazel, very much so treat every day like it might be our last.
John Green is a teenage girl stuck in a grown man’s body, and that’s not as unfortunate as it might initially seem. There are quotes from this book that I recognized from Tumblr, so so so many, simply because Green can put life into a perspective filled with metaphor, an angle we hadn’t stood in before.
Some favorite quotes:
I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.
That’s part of what I like about the book in some ways. It portrays death truthfully. You die in the middle of your life, in the middle of a sentence
Almost everyone is obsessed with leaving a mark upon the world. Bequeathing a legacy. Outlasting death. We all want to be remembered. I do, too. That’s what bothers me most, is being another
unremembered casualty in the ancient and inglorious war against disease.
Some of my favorite reviews/reflections about TFIOS:
1 – Women24
2 – NPR
3 – Disturbing the Universe