The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Everyone and my neighbor has probably read this book. Even a guy who professed not to have cried at any point during the book...still read the book. So, let me just add one more reader (and review).
This book brought on the waterworks. I tried to think if the author really set me up for emotional blackmail by making the main characters cancer patients. But no, it's the portrait of being alive that actually makes the characters worth crying over. I liked that there was no sugar-coating of how cancer is like. It sucks. It's very, very painful (there's a poignant part in the book where a nurse praises Hazel Grace for calling a pain rating of 10 a 9). I mean a pain rating of 9? I don't know what that might be like even if I've gone through Lamaze and two Caesarian sections. Would it be close? And to live with it constantly? No, I don't know. But I appreciated what that might be like...and still love.
I don't blame Hazel for thinking of herself as a ticking bomb. It's a totally logical position, given the circumstances. At first, I thought that Gus Waters' crush on her was totally unreal (but that's explained later...and I'm not giving away any spoilers). The early relationship was a little awkward and I thought that Hazel was overcompensating for being sick by being totally nerdy. But then, I slipped into the story and got lost. I guess that's a good sign for a novel. And I cried along with them on the downturn (the downturns that happen in life...exaggerated, in this case, by their staggering sickness).
There's a bit of meta in it through a book, An Imperial Affliction (the story within the story) by a Dutch writer, Van Houten. And Amsterdam does become a setting in the book at some point (I won't go further). But it's on the side and it makes the story more poignant, I think. Maybe it's a metaphor for the best days of one's life.
Reading this book reminded me to *stay* alive. To be alive. Yes, death happens, death sucks...death is in the background of all things. But as, as the Song of Songs put it so well: love is stronger than death.
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