Sunday, 16 June 2013

Review: The Fault In Our Stars

This review contains spoilers.

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:

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.

I wish I could have liked this book more. I love the title. I liked Augustus and I really liked Isaac. The overall voice of the novel was one that pulled me in right away, though all the metaphoric talk was a bit tiring and got boring after a while. It felt like the author was trying too hard and got lost in it all. I also felt Hazel sometimes said quite mean things and I guess that's part of what's important about her or something, but it bothered me and came over like she was just being a snot for being a snot's sake. She would not let the girl at the Support Group apologize and explain herself, she just walked off. At least the girl tried, but Hazel was just in my opinion being selfish and snotty. And her thing about how Augustus was going to die and never be what he'd wanted, never leave a mark etc. -- that was rude. She seemed to like beating home the point that oh well we're all dying and it's an ugly business so don't try to make it into anything more. She didn't sympathize or empathize with Augustus as I think she should have; she seemed to just want to be blunt and to the point without caring if it hurt, and if it did hurt then oh well, life can be painful so accept it.

The romance aspect was I think more natural as these days we have so many novels with "twue wove" in them and everyone just falls for everyone else at first sight. My favorite part was when Augustus told Hazel that he loved her the first time. That was done in such a sweet way, and it made sense. It wasn't rushed, it wasn't arbitrary.
“I'm in love with you," he said quietly.

"Augustus," I said.

"I am," he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. "I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you.” 
The author even explains why Augustus stared at Hazel when they first met (I was so relieved to have a reason for it when so many characters just stare at each other for no reason and fall into InstaLove.) I also liked when he called her "Hazel Grace"; it was cute.

It took me about 4 or 5 hours to read this and I started it last night and finished it this morning. Any book that I read that quickly I usually deem a "good book" because I will not last through a book I don't like at all. When it came to choosing a rating on Goodreads though, I wavered between whether I liked it (3 stars) or it was just ok (two stars). I had to choose it was ok because that's honestly how I felt about it. I did cry a couple of times, and I was trying hard NOT to because I thought, "come on, everyone can't possibly be crying over this book!" But then I did. Not like big weepy sobs, but those quiet tears that sneak out as much as you try to hold them back.

It's a bit over the top with the "sage cancer victim spouting philosophy textbook garbola" and that's my main problem with the whole thing and I consider that one of presentation. I feel the author could have conveyed this story a bit better using more accessible language. (I went to college but man, not everyone wants to read this kind of writing outside of a textbook.)

The book that Hazel is obsessed with is garbage to me. I couldn't understand just what was so great about this book. Also, she didn't seem to be affected much by Augustus's gift to her -- his Wish. He basically gave away his Wish so she could find out what happened to a fictional hamster. O_o Then at the end she decides that she doesn't care, anyway. I think the entire Peter van Husen thing was a mess. I don't think he even came across as a grieving father, either. And I don't understand who would have ever published his novel.

The "okay" thing felt very pretentious and manufactured. Isaac has his "always" thing, so they start just using "okay" as if it now Means Something. Now we will have memes all over the net with "okay? okay" on them. *sigh*

I will end the review with a lovely quote from the book, which sums up how one can feel after reading and loving a novel:

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can't tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like betrayal” 
Sadly, this was not that kind of book for me.

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