Welcome to my first book review in AGES... It's been way too long. But before I get to that I need to inform you of something great!
No, I'm not pregnant.
My cousin, Shantell, has started blogging again! Yes, Chef Shants is back in the business of blogging! Whoop whoop! So make sure to head on over to The Chef Mother for some awesome recipes and generally incredible reading!!
weekend in pictures post I did last month, that I'd just finished reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. After that, I actually got asked by a couple of people to do a review on the novel and I promised I would. So here I am, reviewing a really brilliant book.
Having said that, you can probably guess how the rest of this review is going to go. :)
Before you read on, please be advised that THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS, so if you haven't read the book / seen the movie, STOP READING NOW!!!!
I've known John Green for a while now. No, silly, not personally, but from the youtube channel that he runs with his brother, Hank. If you like fact and nerd related things, you'll probably enjoy that.
I haven't read any of his other novels, so his writing style was completely new to me.
Let me say straight off the bat that I generally don't like or read novels written in the first person. It's a personal preference which I've always had. I just do not like reading it, and I avoid these kinds of novels like the plague. Recently, I've read actually quite a few novels in this category, which is ironic. And I even liked some of them (like the Hunger Games, for instance).
But the distinction comes in here. I didn't just like TFIOS, folks, I LOVED IT.
Reading the story from Hazel's perspective gave the story an endearing quality that I doubt it would have had otherwise. And I do think the author captured her teenage essence perfectly too. But let's start from the beginning.
The protagonist is a 16 year old girl, named Hazel. She's kind of nerdy and quirky, but the quality I loved the most about her was her quick wit. Aside from all of that, she also happens to be terminally ill with cancer. Her cancer is incurable, and she lives with the knowledge she could die at any moment. The doctors only strive to prolong her life as much as possible.
Her mom forces her to attend a cancer support group in a church, which is where she meets Augustus. He comes to the support group with his and Hazel's mutual friend, Isaac, who has a form of ocular cancer. When he's introduced, he has already lost one eye to the cancer, but loses the other as well during the course of the story. After that, he's blind. but cancer free.
Augustus is a year older than Hazel, but equally nerdy, quirky and witty. He had bone cancer and lost his leg, but the cancer is in remission when we meet him. The attraction between him and Hazel is obvious from the get go, and their love story is what really drives this novel.
I've read reviews that claim the story would be bland if you removed the cancer element from it. I really don't agree with that. I think their story is beautiful in spite of the cancer. I think, if anything, their illness adds to the beauty of the story. They're just two people, thrown together unexpectedly, but perfectly. I felt like they were really great for each other, adding to each other with every page I read.
It's always awesome to read something unfold so simply and wonderfully. Their love made me smile and tear up quite a few times.
Anyway. Hazel loves a novel by author Peter Van Houton, who only wrote the one novel, after which he became a recluse in Amsterdam. The novel is about a teenage girl who dies of leukemia, and Hazel is obsessed with it. Augustus reads this novel too and then shares Hazel's obsession over it. They both need to know what happens to the characters after the end of the novel, which is why Augustus does everything he can to find the author.
He manages to find Van Houton's assistant and they set up a meeting date in Amsterdam. It takes some convincing, but in the end Hazel, Augustus and her mom travel to Amsterdam and meet Van Houton. Obviously something had to go wrong, so they travel to his house only to discover he's a drunken ass who won't answer any of their questions.
They don't allow it to ruin their trip, however, and they have a good time.
During their time abroad the bomb drops. Augustus' cancer is back and basically everywhere in his body. From there on out, Augustus deteriorates pretty rapidly, and after some HECTIC and tear-filled scenes, he passes away.
Maybe it's because I read a lot, or because I write too, but I suspected Augustus would be the one to die right from the start. The casual way it was stated that his cancer was in remission, while Hazel was the much sicker one of the two, was what clued me in to the impending doom. It would have been too obvious for her to die. Especially after she spent some time in the ICU and went through the whole novel hauling around her oxygen tank.
There was only one thing that really bugged me about this novel. Hazel's control freak of a mom allowed her (terminally ill) daughter and boyfriend (who she knew was terminally ill as well) to travel halfway across the globe to meet a writer really easily. And then, instead of going with them to meet this writer, whom, for all we know, could be a serial killer, she allows two (terminally ill) teenagers to roam freely in another country. I don't really see that happening, but maybe that's just me.
All in all, a really incredible read with wonderfully relatable characters, mind blowingly emotional tearjerker scenes, and a love story for the ages. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and I would recommend it to anyone. I can't remember when last I cried quite so much in a novel, if ever.
Better than the other YA fiction out there by far.
Still haven't seen the movie, so I can't comment on that. But I hear it's great.
I hope you liked this review! Someone asked me what I thought of the Divergent trilogy, which I also just finished. If you really want to read my views on that, I'll do a review soon. :)
Stay beautiful and be kind to animals,