Thursday, 4 April 2013

Review ALL the Books: The Fault in our Stars

 This is my 4th book in my Review ALL the Books Challenge (more info here). It's better than Looking For Alaska.I've heard this is John Green's best, but I’m not getting the thing that apparently a ton of people are getting out of his books, it could be his Youtube fame clouding judgement (I haven't seen his youtube stuff) and many say his work is formulaic so I don't plan on reading anything else by him besides An Abundance of Katherines.I have mainly positive mixed feelings: I never felt close to tears from it, despite its fair share of sadness, I didn't find it life-changing or even close to the best-book-ever vibe from it, however it was a very quotable book, which I do enjoy. 

General Info:
Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Date of Completion: 12/2/2012
Rating: 4.5 stars

Reason for Reading: Hype/raving reviews from friends and everyone, and unmet expectations of Looking for Alaska.

Summary: Hazel Grace Lancaster, a cancer patient, has had her death delayed temporarily by a machine. She has no idea how long this miracle of medication will last her, when at sixteen she gets a fresh new perspective on life.  Augustus Waters is a cancer babe who together with Hazel, falls in love, explores legacy, health and mortality. Basically, it's a thought provoking love story between two teenage cancer victims.

Hazel - Engaging, fun, understandable and mostly realistic (she had her pretentious, philosophical moments :/). There were a few times where she reminded me of Alaska Young, which made me nervous, but overall she deviated from that :) It was a good choice to have the story narrated from her perspective so I'll have a bit more on her in the Writing section.

Augustus - So he's once again a dangerously hot guy (which is agreed on by the protagonist's friends) and wise, and a little bit too close to the Gary Stu for comfort. But he never did anything that was creepy, but was deemed ok/romantic by the protagonist so that's great. His nerdiness over The Price of Dawn and The Imperial Affliction was really adorable and fun, and it's exactly the kind of thing I want to see from fictional love-interests everywhere. But urgh his cigarette metaphor was exactly the kind of pretentious philosophy I didn't want from John Green (or other realistic YA novels for that matter), even if you do have that crazy metaphor you don't go out when you are friggin' dying to buy some cigarettes that you will never smoke! >:(
I think this quote's got him pegged: " 'Augustus Waters was a self-aggrandizing bastard. But we forgive him. We forgive him not because he had a heart as figuratively good as his literal one sucked, or because he knew more about how to hold a cigarette than any nonsmoker in history, or because he got eighteen years when he should've gotten more.'
'Seventeen,' Gus corrected.
'I'm assuming you've got some time, you interupting bastard.
'I'm telling you,' Isaac continued, 'Augustus Waters talked so much that he'd interupt you at his own funeral. And he was pretentious: Sweet Jesus Christ, that kid never took a piss without pondering the abundant metaphorical resonances of human waste production. And he was vain: I do not believe I have ever met a more physically attractive person who was more acutely aware of his own physical attractiveness.
'But I will say this: When the scientists of the future show up at my house with robot eyes and they tell me to try them on, I will tell the scientists to screw off, because I do not want to see a world without him.' "

Peter Van Houten - He was characterised in such a way that the annoyance that Hazel and Augustus feel towards him was completely justified and you too felt that annoyance at him even though you were the reader. 

The Parents The characterisation of both Hazel and Augustus' parents made them feel homely and really gave you respect for them and their supportive parenting. They broke the stereotype of the absent parents/dad in YA novels, and Hazel's dad also breaks some gender stereotypes.

Others - Hazel's friends weren't really fleshed out. Kaitlyn was a stereotypical popular girl friend who was in the scene with parties, dating and that world that our protagonist can never be part of. Isaac despite having more development kinda became the pity-party mutual friends who gets the crap deal (breaking up with girlfriend, losing sight) justifying any whining while the two friends he introduced to each other are exploring "A Whole New World, A whole new fantastic point of view..." together. 

Plot: It claims to be different to the ‘SickLit’ genre, but in doing so I think it becomes more similar to one. I mean they mock the whole cancer perks thing, but the major event is one. It doesn’t follow the general novel plot-structure, which although refreshing, is disorientating. The romance was amazingly sweet although a bit rushed, but it's just so okay guys. There’s a semi-climax about 2/3s in, and the ending felt a bit hurried, but when you think about it, that’s the way it was planned. 

Writing: Hazel’s perspective easy to relate to and has good humour. Overall the writing is great. However I think philosophy is fine, and it’s pretty interesting to think about those things, but too much in a YA realistic fiction novel can be annoying, and from the two John Green books I've read, there’s heaps of crazy philosophy/life lessons spouting from two 'ordinary' teenagers. Is it because they’re ‘cancer kids’? because they are smart? because they just don’t like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? I don’t get it.

Quotes: Ermahgerd look at all of them, there's so many. This one describes the love story, the other ones are just awesome quotable things: “There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There's .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I'm likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful.” 

“That's the thing about demands to be felt.” 

“You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world...but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.” 

“The marks humans leave are too often scars.” 

“Without pain, how could we know joy?' This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate.” 

“We’re as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it, and we’re not likely to do either.” 

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