Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Literature Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (2012)

The Fault in Our Stars was recommended to me by a friend who made the terrible mistake of lending it to me about... oh... February 2012. The awesome person that I am, I put it off for a year and four months until I finally sat down and cracked it open two nights ago. After a tempest of feels which left me clinging to my pillows at eight in the morning desperately trying to squeeze in at least six hours of sleep before I wasted the entire day, I came to the fairly satisfying conclusion. Although I have to admit it left me hanging a little too far. I mean, what happens to Hazel's mother and Bluie the teddy bear? And just how does it all change one Mr. van Houten?

Don't let me put you off your bookly appetite with my misguided questions, however, as the novel does end on a full and final note. The journey is more important than the destination, anyhow. Granted, the importance of the journey reaches right up to the end, but you get the picture. Or maybe you don't. I dunno.

Interestingly, I didn't make the connection between this book and the silly people making silly videos for YouTube to which I have been subscribed for a ridiculously lengthy amount of time. I don't know why, considering the amount of videos in which John discusses signing pages of the book. Somehow I didn't run across those until after spiriting away the tome, and now it all makes much more sense. See, I'd always wondered what John did for a job, and now I know.

Oh by the way, I'm sorry if I come across as very first name basis here. In fact I've never met either of the Vlog Brothers in person, but their videos make me feel as though I'm intimately familiar with them. For those who aren't intimately familiar with them, their last name is not Vlog, it is Green. Despite this, they are the Super Vlog Brothers. You would also be wise to consider becoming intimately familiar with them. Intimately.

So the story focuses on one Hazel Grace, a sixteen-year-old cancer patient who is destined to die at a relatively young age. She soon makes the acquaintance of Augusts Waters, a cancer survived high schooler, and the two are swept into a whirlwind romance. The romantic plot here being more of the primary plot with the cancer being more of a subplot, despite being introduced first. I won't lie: this is a young adult contemporary romance novel with medicinal syrup smeared over it. If you don't dig touchy-feely goodness, go dig a hole.

Actually, I did lie, because it's less of a romance and more of a tragedy.

The Fault in Our Stars is almost a modern day version of Romeo and Juliet with the antagonistic families being replaced by various forms of cancer. It is a tastefully told tale with all the implausible complexities of the average American youth, which are more abundant than the adults with ascended noses would like to admit. The narration is crisp and sprinkled with the quips of our protagonist, which greatly enhances the experience. The characters are all well developed and fairly realistic, which does mean that they are at times unlikable.

Actually, that's kind of a lie, and this is my one complaint with the novel: it falls into as many category stereotypes as it mocks. Almost every supporting character is ridiculously supportive, of everyone and everything. Of course there are a couple of more antagonistic individuals, but they're neither here nor there: one is a C-List character, and the other does do a bit of changing despite remaining an assclown. Besides, them, though, everyone is all happy acceptance for most of the book. I'm actually kind of surprised at what the kids get away with saying right in front of their parents, because in real life they'd be totally roasted for it.

Other than that, though, the book is damn near perfect. It's a little on the sparse side with details, and a little on the telly side as well, but that is all overshadowed by the tone of the narration (which is in first person). What the story lacks in visual exploration it makes up for in character exploration. By the end of it all, you're going to feel like most of these characters are a part of you, and whatever happens to them is happening to you.

Honestly, the book is too good. Half of my bawling was more because John Green's literary prowess is far beyond mine, and it really showed me how I'm just a kindergartner scribbling on the floor with a crayon.

Then again, I like crayons.

The Fault in Our Stars deserves all the praise I'm giving it, and probably much more by people who can better articulate it. Ten/ten, go read.

Don't forget the tissues.

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