I’ve had The Fault in Our Stars on my bookshelf for over a year before I finally broke the spine. Although I didn’t read the blurb, I already knew the name its main characters and that it was about cancer, but wasn’t a “cancer book” (so maybe the characters WON’T die?) There was also some inside joke about “Okay” from the t-shirts I’ve seen in Barnes and Noble. And I know it touched many hearts. Just look at all the mixtapes for it on 8tracks! It is hard to escape all the The Fault in Our Stars references when you subscribe to Green. I’ve hesitated to read this one, because I was saving it. I was saving it for a book slump, when I’ve read a marathon of “meh” reads and desperately need an AWESOME read to save my faith in literature. I saved it in the way Hazel saves her ten on a pain scale. But alas, I had to read it because a friend wanted to borrow my copy and I can’t let go of a book without reading it first.
Where Are My Tears? Am I an emotion-less cyborg that needs to see a therapist?:
I was “about” to get teary, and my throat was choking up over the relationship between Hazel and her mother, when they were discussing her mother’s plan after Hazel’s death. A part of me was like, “THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO PROVE YOU HAVE EMOTIONS! GO! LET THOSE TEARS FALL!…nope, not happening? Fudge, you’re heartless.” When I think back, there were parts where I thought I “should’ve” cried. I should’ve cared more about Augustus. But I didn’t.
Augustus, the Hot, Intelligent Boy EVERYONE Loves, Except Me:
Whenever I hear Augustus, I think of Augustus Gloop from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Immediately the image of a morbidly obese, round kid shoving chocolate from Mr. Wonka’s chocolate waterfall comes to mind, squandering the image of Augustus Waters, seventeen year old, charismatic, tall, hot, one-legged dream boy. I didn’t care for him. For a guy that spews such beautiful words and compares his thoughts to stars, he is obsessed with dying a memorable life. It’s a pretentious thought that would be less romanticized if he was in his eighties. I found it childish. Millions of people died without being remembered. You have the audacity to say you are worth more than them? Why SHOULD I remember you? What have you done that is worthy of me remembering you? GET OVER YOURSELF, AUGUSTUS WATERS.
Despite my indifference towards Augustus, I really liked Hazel. Her voice is authentic, with her blunt humor. She never once demanded pity. I can relate to her as a teenager. Although both Hazel and Augustus are dealing with caner, Hazel doesn’t dwell on being remembered, rather she dwells on her family after her passing. She also loves literature, but also likes America’s Next Top Model. Despite her literary analysis of The Imperial Affliction, her favorite novel, she cares more about seemingly trivial matters such as what happens to the protagonist’s pet hamster. She goes to lengths to find out. Even traveling to Amsterdam to meet the author. Her obsession with the sequel, reflects on her outlook towards her own life. She wants to insure that her loved ones will have an happy ending even after her death.
Van Houten, Literary Genius, Drunk…and Wizard?
Peter van Houten, the author of Hazel’s favorite book, is one of the main reasons I felt disengaged with the story. I don’t know what to make of him. It’s not because he is rude and does give a damn that his fans flew halfway across the world to visit him, nor is it because he is an alcoholic, though he is both of these things. He is quite an eccentric character. But because he differs so much from the expectations of a respected, literary genius. Also, I felt his appearances to be bordering magical realism. Towards the end of the novel, he was like a wizard. Or a stalker. Popping in and out of the story unexpectedly.
Overall, I can see why others have loved this story (especially ones that have personal experiences with cancer,) but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I suspect it might have been of my expectations, and reading this book after Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park and Gayle Forman’s Just One Day, just made The Fault in Our Stars underwhelming.