TFIOS, yes I am going there! A little over two years ago, I heard about a book called The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. The book blogosphere influences my reading choices big time, and this was no different. I read a couple of reviews, and thought I should get that book. I managed to get a signed copy at Walmart. However...............after I bought the book it sat on my shelf, until a couple of weeks ago.
When I bought this book, it hadn't become the phenomenon that is TFIOS! I'm not sure what more I could say about a book that has now become a juggernaut in print and on the big screen. This is more of a reactionary post than a review.
Just a few days ago, Ruth Graham wrote a rather SNOBBISH article for Slate titled "Against YA." This is a direct quote from the article, "Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you're reading was written for children." Those are fighting words! Not only do I read YA, but I also work for a children's publisher.
Certainly, there are some YA books that are worth an eyeroll (**cough** Twilight **cough**), but so are some adult books (**cough** Fifty Shades of Grey, Dinosaur erotica books **cough**). But NO ONE should be embarrassed by what they read. No book is perfect, but read what you want because you're interested in the plot, characters, settings, the writing, and the possibility that you're about to be taken on an amazing journey.
After reading The Fault in Our Stars, I was taken on an amazing and extremely sad journey. Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus "Gus" Waters are very snarky and self-aware teenagers with cancer. They see the world and the people in it differently. They also see each other like no else can, so much so that it did get on my nerves. I know this isn't popular sentiment, but I found some parts of the book just a bit much.
"Do you realize how rare it is to come across a hot girl who creates an adjectival version of the world pedophile? You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are." -- Pg. 123
I'm 31, and I can't imagine an adult male saying that to me. It's a line that could only be in movie or a book! I find it hard to believe a 17-year-old with raging hormones would say that. An adult, writing in the voice of teenager, probably would. Once I got past some of the overly mushy parts, I was captivated by the overall story. The book really picks up when Gus and Hazel make their pilgrimage to Amsterdam to meet reclusive author Peter Van Houten. This trip was the promise of something big for Hazel -- the answers to the mysteries of her favorite book An Imperial Affliction. That promise is unfilled and Hazel is left to ponder: What now? As a teen struggling with the aftermath of cancer treatments, there is very little for Hazel to hold onto. The promise of more details about her favorite book was a big deal ... a dream come true for Hazel. That dream is shattered, but she still has Gus and her parents.
At times the romance in this book stretched the laws of believability. I just find it hard to believe that teenagers can become so enraptured with each other so quickly and that they could be so whitty and insightful ALL THE TIME. What did ring true for me was Hazel's relationship with her parents. She has parents who are willing to do anything and everything to keep her alive. I'm not a parent, but this has to be a hard book for any parent to read.
Going into this book, I unfortunately already knew the ending. I took a class on children's publishing last year, the book was assigned to a classmate, who subsequently SPOILED the whole book. The assignment was to review the book for its strengths and weaknesses, not SPOIL the whole book for the entire class. That's probably why I took even longer to actually read this book, there was no anticipation of the story for me. But with the movie now on the big screen, I felt the need to read the book. I want to see the movie, and I never see the movie before reading the book. So, stay tuned for my reaction to TFIOS: the Movie!!
Note: Thanks for the comment. For some reason I can't respond, blogger is acting up!