The thing I initially didn’t like about this novel was that it turned me into a young adult again. Darn. But now that it’s happened, I’ll go with it. I was of course a young adult before I read this book, was while reading it, and still am after I’ve finished. But I didn’t really feel like one before, and now I do.
So The Fault in Our Stars is a novel by John Green about cancer and young adults having cancer and dying and such. But this is clearly trivializing the story. It’s supposed to be a very honest portrait of cancer, but I have no experience with the subject. It also covers the themes of legacy and remembrance and the complexity of human interactions. Basically Hazel (teenage girl dying from cancer), falls in love with highly original character Augustus Waters (legit name guys) also a cancer survivor. Spoiler: he dies. (Kind of copied the book right there). The whole time you think Hazel’s gonna die first, and then bam! It’s the other guy.
While a lot of people seem to find this book depressing, I didn’t. (Young adult alert! Talking about myself more than the book!) I’ve been noticing that a lot about myself lately: I rarely find things that most people find depressing depressing. It’s strange. Maybe I actually am depressed but I’m also in denial. I don’t know. I think the main reason I reacted this way was because there was so much love in the book that I found it impossible to get depressed as perhaps I should have. On a related note, maybe I’m getting a bit schadenfreude Joss Whedon (Let’s kill off Penny!) style in my old age, because I was very pleased with Augustus dying. Not because I wanted him to die, he’s a cool guy and all, but because the story needed it. Maybe that’s what realism/honesty is, just having everything you don’t want to have happen, happen.
If you couldn’t already tell by the title, this guy Green likes his classic lit references, as do I. Besides Caesar he’s got some Slaughterhouse Five (he used “So it goes” when nobody was dying. I can only assume foreshadowing, but still. Come on now. We all know how that line should be used. PS: Augustus is alive in the 4th dimension), The Great Gatsby, and TS Eliot. (People commenting, did I miss anything?) I never can decide if references help or hurt a work, and same here. Really can’t tell. Could go either way. But I love all those books/poets so that’s good. Even if they don’t work (again, can’t decide), at least they are from quality material.
Same thing with his conscious use of metaphors. It’s kind of annoying to have an author tell you, “yes, this cigarette is a metaphor. Look at my writing skills.” (not an actual quote). On one hand it’s refreshing and quite humorous, and on the other hand it’s a bit too refreshing and a bit too humorous, like he’s just trying to show off how refreshing and humorous he is. I almost went into a rant about how people never have original thoughts anymore (and sounding a bit like Van Houten, who kind of reminds me of Kilgore Trout, by the way), but I remembered that people from other centuries did this as well. The rant stops here (sigh).
I really think this book would make a terrific film. It doesn’t rely on inner thoughts and feelings so much that you would need extensive voice over narration (which people never want to do, for some odd reason). The images of tubes and draining fluid out of Hazel’s lungs and Isaac’s blindness and Augustus only having one leg and everything else would be so much more moving in a film. That is, if they did it right, and they usually don’t, from my point of view. It could be “grand.” (Green apparently does not agree with Holden Caulfield on the usage of that word.) If you had a good script and really good actors this story could really kill people you know? They would laugh, they would cry…. it would be fantastic. (I might do a hypothetical post on this, but first I must see if they actually are making a film of this novel because they make films of practically everything.)
So in case you can’t tell, I did end up liking the novel. The problem was that during the first couple chapters I had convinced myself that the novel was not my style. I am happier with nineteenth century stuff I read in English class. Maybe because I just like feeling perversely scholarly and dignified or something. I don’t know, but reading this novel definitely showed me that I am a literary snob (it’s true. My name is Melissa Hunter and I can only read books written by dead people. Other than that I am disease free and my life is okay).
“OH MY GOD DO THEY GET MARRIED OR NOT OH MY GOD WHAT IS THIS…. CRUEL.”