Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Fault in our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars
John Green (future husband?)
London, Penguin, 2012, 313p

My little brother has made me cry twice this week. On Monday, he threw the remote control at my knee; then, he recommended The Fault in Our Stars, which resulted me crying uncontrollably into my pillow, leaving it drenched. 

Context: my brother doesn't read much. The last book I remember him choosing to read was a Skulduggery Pleasant novel when he was about nine years old. I could not resist reading the book that caused my brother to be able to talk to me about literature.

I am completely in love with Hazel. She is the most brilliant teenage female character I have met in a while. She is smart, quoting poetry from memory; she is loving, scared of hurting those around her; and she is hilarious. More than once, I laughed out loud. I haven't read wit like this since Jane Austen. My favourite bit was when she was explaining how she had been diagnosed with cancer just days after her period started: 
"Like: Congratulations! You're a woman. Now die."
Which brings me to my earlier reference to crying. Hazel has cancer. She is terminal. She is surprisingly well-adjusted, considering she is only seventeen. She resents those who pity her, but she is not bitter or angry. She is sad, but does not dwell on her future.

The story is about Hazel's relationship with Augustus Waters, a boy she meets at a Support Group. He understands what she is going through, having lost his leg due to cancer eighteen months before. He is handsome and quick-witted. He is kind-hearted and gentle. He is perfect. (I might have fallen in love with him a wee bit.) Their dialogue is full of clever remarks and included words that even I had to look up. I loved it every time they spoke.

Hazel is reluctant to hurt him. She wants to hurt as few people as possible when she dies, so tries to keep boundaries with Augustus. But he is always there, as a friend, wanting more, but never pushing (perfect, right?). 

John Green has rewritten the tragic romance novel. In The Fault in our Stars, you laugh more than you cry, you learn about living and loving, and you grow to appreciate how lucky you really are. You don't feel sorry for Hazel - she is impossible not to love and admire for her intelligence and nobility. Stories like this are rare treasures. Stories like this change their readers. And that's what stories are for.

For Nick x

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