It’s Sunday! And that means Book review day! 🙂 Once again, I’m going to review a book that I read because I succumbed to fad reading. As you can see.. I’ve succumbed to the fad reading trend a tad too often lately. But I strongly believe that you must read a book yourself to decide whether you like it or not, popular or otherwise. But before I actively discourage you any further from reading my book reviews, let’s get further into the post. This week, I am going to review ‘The Fault in our Stars’ by John Green.
I’m not a fan of the cancer genre (as I call it), at all! If you ask me about one book that I like, where cancer played an important role, I would say ‘Love Story’ by Erich Segal. I’m used to reading books and watching shows where two people are in love, and then cancer suddenly rears its ugly head. This is the first time I’ve come across a story where two people, teenagers at that, are already cancer-ridden, know that they’re never going to be “home-free” (they’d die sooner rather than later, and are technically going to be sick for the rest of their lives), meet at a support group, and fall in love anyway!
Hazel Lancaster is suffering from lung cancer; Augustus Waters is recuperating from Osteosarcoma. They share an acerbic wit and a sarcastic vein that bring them together. Hazel considers a book titled “An Imperial Affliction” her bible (curiously, a cancer-based book); however, the author deliberately left the book unfinished, and Hazel wants to meet him to find out how it ends, to get closure. Augustus has a wish left (from the ‘Make a wish foundation’), and he uses it to take her to Holland to meet the author.
And throughout all this, they fall in love, romance in a quaint, cancer-full way, lose their virginity to each other, and so on. Nevertheless, there is a twist – they keep expecting Hazel to get worse (because she is being medically managed on meds), whereas Augustus has already got the all-clear. As it turns out, it is Augustus who gets worse quickly and leaves Hazel with an Augustus-shaped hole in the world.
It gives you an idea of how cancer affects people, and the people around. That is absolutely the only part of the book that evokes an emotional response. However, you can skip this if you watch ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ or ‘House M.D’ and already have a reasonable knowledge about how cancer works, and how it destroys people. This book isn’t exactly morbid; but it does give you a pretty clear idea of what cancer-ridden people go through, and how that affects the loved ones around them.
Hazel and Augustus’ relationship is almost believable. However, you root for them because you want cancer-ridden people to get a happy ending; not because you believe they are perfect for each other. You like the simple things in life – like how they share a passion about an obscure book, but you find it impossible to imagine the bigger picture or a perfect happy ending to their relationship, because something is off – like jarring notes in a familiar song.
The biggest problem with this book is that you find it impossible to really like, and identify with the characters – and no, not because they have cancer and you don’t. They are teenagers, but they speak like much-older adults who have seen the best and worst of life. Despite a terminal disease that matures people faster than they would like to, these teenagers’ lines don’t show maturity per se – they just sound freakishly strange. Sample this:
“How did scrambled eggs get stuck with breakfast exclusivity? You can put bacon on a sandwich without anyone freaking out. But the moment your sandwich has an egg, boom, it’s a breakfast sandwich… I want to have scrambled eggs for dinner without this ridiculous construction that a scrambled egg-inclusive meal is breakfast even when it occurs at dinner time.” – Hazel.
Now who talks like that? Really?! This book tries to introduce a world where the children understand life more than adults do. It portrays the teenagers as people who talk like 35-year old adults who have a deep understanding of human nature, and treat adults like they’re the ones who are shallow and irresponsible and need to be ashamed of it. So yes, the author gives teenagers what they want to hear; you can almost understand why this book became so popular.
Well, truth be told, I didn’t cry at the end; I glazed over half the book. Like I said, I’m not a big fan of the cancer genre. But that’s just me. I do know a lot of people who got floored by the idea of two cancer-ridden teenagers finding love. So you know whether you would like this book or not! 🙂
Writer on the rocks.