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’m not sure if it was because I’d already seen a thousand spoilers on tumblr, or if it was because I read this in the days that followed my tonsillectomy (i.e half asleep and fuzzy with painkillers) but I did not find this book as sad as all the funny gifs on tumblr had me believe.
Despite the fact that I am apparently a heartless psychopath, I did enjoy reading the book. It was a good story, and a very, very realistic one. I can absolutely see how the endless expectations thanks to portrayals from countless books and movies portraying these kids as super heroes who are just so strong and inspiring could be as frustrating and exhausting all on its own. Hazel felt real to me. And that’s not to say that those super strong, always optimistic people in the face on insurmountable adversity exist. They do, but every person is different and so many stories use illnesses and handicaps as boxes to create archetypes. Every character in this story felt real. At the end of the book I felt like I knew them personally, and for an author to accomplish that with any character, much less all of them, is amazing.
Except for the author in the story. He felt fuzzy and abstract and I was mostly just annoyed by his existence. I understood the explanation for why he was the way he was but not in the way I got every other character’s rationales in the entire book, up to and including side characters I only met for a couple of lines.
I loved Hazel’s quest to find the ending of the book though. Even though her reasoning was never explicitly stated, John Green did not hit his readers over the head with the parallels between her fears and her mission. It was just there, beautiful, tragic, and completely understandable.
I completely get the people I’ve heard criticize this book by saying all the characters were a bit too clever in the same ways. Every character spoke in the same kind of poetic and abstract way, and I completely agree that if I were to ever meet Augustus Waters and his metaphors in person I would think he was arrogant. But that’s not a bad thing. Characters can and should be flawed individuals, and while the characters were all clever in the same way and kind of all thinking on the same level regardless of age or position, they had unique voices so it didn’t bother me. The language they used and the observations they made was what made the book so good.
Great read. If you’re a normal person expect to cry. I kind of feel less human for not really getting sad over it.