Friday, May 18, 2012
Author: John Green
Genre: YA, contemporary
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile, 2012
Read for: Fun
Hazel has received a miracle treatment for the tumors in her lungs -- that is, a miracle in that it gives her a few more years. What isn't so miraculous is that eventually she will die from those tumors, and meanwhile she is dependent on a tank of oxygen. Her mother makes her attend a cancer support group, and it is there that she meets Augustus Waters -- one-legged, his cancer essentially beaten, witty and book-loving. As they get to know each other, they embark on an adventure that involves lots of reading, lots of feeling, and world-travel. And love.
I have been dreading writing this review for a few reasons. First of all, everyone and their neighbor has reviewed it already. And almost everyone liked it. There is little I can add other than my personal reactions. Second, I felt a lot while reading this book, but I don't know how to transpose that feeling into sensible prose. Not that any of my reviews are composed of sensible prose anyway. But I do try.
So I am going to be a lazy blogger and simply list what I liked and disliked for you. Starting with the dislikes, of course, so we can end in a happy place:
* Really, there is only one that stands out to me. I predicted the end of this book. And while initially it seems obvious what the end of the book will be, it actually does not end in an obvious way -- but I still predicted it. Which is always disappointing.
* The cover. This designer clearly needs to get his/her fingers in more projects, because this was nicely done.
* The title. I'm sad that it is taken, really, because it conveys so much in such beautiful language that I would like to steal it for myself.
* John Green's writing. This was my first John Green book, so I had not yet experienced the snarky, quirky wit that is his trademark. I absolutely ate it up. It was delicious.
* The fact that it is a cancer book. I feel like I say this every time I talk about cancer books -- I don't like cancer, and I wish it was obliterated. But I like reading the stories of the people who have experienced it, whether they are true stories or imaginary stories. I guess it is just a morbid nurse thing.
* Hazel and Augustus did so much based on a book. I don't want to reveal exactly what they did, because discovering that piece of the story was one of the most enjoyable aspects of reading the book. However, I can say that I loved the fact that they shared this book and then made understanding it a huge priority -- one that they would literally travel thousands of miles to accomplish.
* Imperfection. Quite a few love stories, and young adult stories in particular, tend to over-romanticize falling in love. Sometimes I think all those books and movies are to blame for so many failed marriages and relationships -- expectations are raised so high that there is no room for imperfection. Other than the cancer that clearly had a dramatic effect on Hazel and Augustus's lives, there are other issues. Okay, actually, most of them stem from cancer. But there is the fact of past relationships, of not feeling well enough to spend time together, of not wanting to invest in a relationship when you feel like there is no point with a clock that is running out. All of those things were heavy and depressing parts of Hazel and Augustus's love story, but they didn't drown out the love. It was still powerful and encompassing -- I think it had more power due to its imperfections.
So overall, this was a well-written, enjoyable, and heart-rending story. Hipsters especially will devour it with vigor.
Warnings: Language, intense sadness, a not-too-detailed bedroom scene