Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars: Umm, okay?

SEE WHAT I DID THERE? Or is it so cool that it's not cool anymore?

Anyway. Let's talk about stars and faults. And cancer and death. Also, Amsterdam, douchebags and a book in a book. Not weird at all.

That's actually my first thoughts when I read some of the first reviews of TFiOS. It sounds really weird and the title confused the hell out of me, but I ended up liking it! Read my review and feels for this book below! (Or, click that read more button.)

Title: The Fault in Our Stars

Author: John Green

Blurb: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

The "okay" part:
This is actually my very first John Green book, and this book is also the one that got me into Nerdfighteria! After so much tears being shed by readers all around the world, it was finally the time for me to jump into the pool and bawl with all the human beings all around...except I didn't. Don't get me wrong, I like this book, so bear with me.

There are families in this book. It's not a news about the deprivation of parents in young adult novels, but this one? Two pairs of loving parents! But they're not just all love and peace and rainbows and then happily ever after, there are scenes that happen in real life-- arguments and conflicts. Family members that love and help each other are awesome, but it's not realistic if that's all they do. What's important is relenting, apologizing and finally having each other again, and I saw that in Hazel's family. (And in Gus's case...I feel sad for them.)

Peter van Houten and An Imperial Affliction: What I'm saying next will probably offend the whole world, so if you want to maintain world peace, skip this paragraph. 
Okay, I love them. Both. I know many people hate van Houten because he's such a douchebag, but to me, he's a broken old man who has his unique temperament, and is also quite a genius, according to Hazel. When Hazel questions van Houten about AIA and its endings, I was totally rooting for him. (Don't kill me.) I mean, I agree when he said "we're speaking of a novel, not a historical enterprise", "nothing happens" and "they all ceased to exist the moment the novel ended". For me, a novel is a novel, and everything in there exists for a reason, and others don't for other reasons. Also, there's no author that I've known so far who has the guts to end a novel in the middl

I can understand why Hazel is so desperate for an ending, though: (correct me if I'm wrong) she relates to Anna so much that there's probably an Anna living in her. From the book, she might know about her parents' life after she dies, which she hopes to be lives without grieving or mourning (since she and Anna are so alike). When the time arrives, she wants her parents to have a good life.

Those aside, I've always loved the concept of a book in a book. In this novel, I feel that the author has the intent to make the reader feel that AIA resembles TFiOS (or the other way round); I wanted to know what happens to Hazel and her parents and Gus's parents and Isaac and van Houten and everything.

Good for you, van Houten. Except for the part where you sneak into Hazel's mom's car and play Swedish hip hop. WHO DOES THAT? It's just super CREEPY.

(Here's a fan-made AIA cover I found. It's full of delights and surprises if you look closely and read the text!)

Another thing that I like about TFiOS is the humor. Sometimes, it ceased the heavy parts but sometimes, with the humor, the sad parts are just times sadder. When people are actually dying, the heaviest things are those that seem to be lighthearted in everyday life, because all other heavy stuff isn't as serious and those lightheartedness only reminds you of the happy times and the if-onlys.

"I lit up like a Christmas tree, Hazel Grace. The lining of my chest, my left hip, my liver, everywhere."
My heart was broken and I felt so sorry.

And then the parts that made me go "umm..." when considering a higher rating:

TFiOS deals with cancer and gives people an insight into what some cancer patients actually feel and think about. I received the message saying "teens can have cancer, but that doesn't stop them from being teens and fall in love" from Hazel and Gus. Well, I get it. Another message is that patients don't want pity. This, I don't know. I think pity is just another form of love and care, but I've never had any terminal illness like cancer...so I think I don't have a say in whether it's realistic. I can only say that it made me look at cancer in a different way. 

And then, the humor again. That double-edged sword. To me, some of the jokes are, if not morbid, disturbing, or unnecessary. For example, that little "cancer, not bulimia" in the parenthesis when Hazel explains the reason why she vomits right after eating. And the excessive double entendres about cancer such as "I can be a little blind when it comes to others' feelings" at Support Group. Yes, I found it amusing, but I wonder if it's possible in real life.

The romance felt a bit rushed. Kind of an insta-love. A strong one, though.

Also, I didn't cry. Before you call me soulless, let me explain. First, I read the book in parts. I think that broke the building emotions into bits. Second, I don't know if it's just me, but I found TFiOS hard to read as a YA novel at some points because of abbreviations like ICU and stuff like "existentially fraught-free throws". And then there's the way Hazel talks. I have a mixed feeling about it, that witty, clever, straight-forward and sometimes funny way she talks is one that I'll never be able to rival, I kind of like it, but I couldn't connect with her and feel related.

All in all, I wasn't surprised or really moved by this book, but it's a delightful read.  I think that have to do with the spoilers that I had heard before reading and some reviews, I built pretty high expectations. Or maybe romance is just not my thing and I have little knowledge and experience of cancer. Still, this book shows teenage frustrations, love and dreams, and it's quite a special, unique novel.

Okay, now you can throw comments at me. (NOT stones.) Read the book or watched the movie? Share,


  1. I was the same way Melody! I enjoyed this one, but with all the hype I guess I just expected...more, you know? It was certainly beautifully written - like you said - and Hazel was such a strong protagonist, but there was never a moment where it blew my mind so to speak.

    I think both of us just simply aren't romance fans in general, LOL! Thanks for sharing Melody, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

  2. Sometimes the hype ruins everything, it makes us have ridiculously high expectations and after you read it, WAM! you fell from the high expectations to the level where the book actually is. And it's not that the book is bad or anything! Maybe I should avoid the internet and any book reviews and live in a cave in the mountains before I read anything...
    Perhaps we can form a Romance-Is-Not-My-Thing club? LOL. A bit of romance in a story can be fun, but a book too focused on romance is just not my thing. Although this book isn't really about romance, it's just too fast for me, I think.
    Thanks for the comment! <3 <3 <3