So when people tell you about this book, they tell you it’s about kids with cancer. And you think, okay, I’ll prepare myself for a sad story. What they don’t tell you, and what you don’t expect, is that these are teenagers fluent in sarcasm and cynicism, as most teenagers are, only more so because their deaths are imminent. You don’t expect to be laughing so much of the way through the book, mixing mirth with sorrow. It’s… not at all what you think it will be from hearing “this book is about cancer patients.”
And it’s wonderful.
I was listening to this as an audio book on my way to and from work, and I loved it so much I brought it in and listened to 2 ½ CDs in one night so I could finish it the following day. I don’t ever do that.
I feel I should also mention that I was so hooked on the characters that, the day after I finished the audio book when I went to start another one, I got about 3 minutes in before I had to turn it off. My mind wouldn’t focus on the new book because it was still mulling over Hazel and Augustus and Isaac and their world.
The only thing I wasn’t crazy about in this book was the kids’ attitudes of “my parents are idiots; well-meaning, but clueless.” I mean, it’s understandable – with the whole “cancer” thing and all, aside from the whole “teenager” thing – but still less than ideal. Just a caution for those of you who might be bothered by something like that.
Things I love about this book:
- Bonding over literature (including poetry)
- “My friends really wanted to help me through cancer, but they found out they couldn’t. Plus, there was no ‘through.’”
- My fear that John Green might end The Fault in Our Stars the way van Houten ended An Imperial Affliction (minor spoiler alert: he doesn’t)
- Blind video-gaming
- The fact that the title comes from a line of Shakespeare. I love when people take one line out of the classics and form an entire novel around it – it’s like saying, “Wow, that was a really great line. It deserves a lot more time than it gets.”
- Pre-death eulogizing
- “Some infinities are bigger than other infinities… There are days – many of them – when I regret the size of my unbounded set.” (This reminded me a bit of The Perks of Being a Wallflower – “And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.”)
- The Literal Heart of Jesus (I hate it when people misuse the world “literal,” so I was proud of Hazel and Augustus for this criticism)
- The reader on the audio book’s voices – the way Augustus said “Hazel Grace!” was perfect.
- This scene: Hazel is with Augustus’ family, who is all very somber and serious, and his sister Julie says (of her children), “I can only hope they grow into the kind of thoughtful, intelligent man you’ve become.”
Hazel: He’s not that smart.
Augustus: She’s right. It’s just that most really good-looking people are stupid, so I exceed expectations.
Hazel: Right. It’s primarily his hotness.
Augustus: It can be sort of blinding.
Hazel: It actually did blind our friend…
Augustus: Terrible tragedy, that. But can I help my own deadly beauty?
Hazel: You cannot.
(As I said, fluent in sarcasm…)
(Side note: Do you have any idea how difficult it is to write about a book you love when almost everything you love about it would be a spoiler for someone who hasn’t read it?? This is why I decided not to post about the Agatha Christie book I finished last week – there isn’t much to say other than “It was super good, and you’ll never see the solution coming… you won’t expect _____ or _____ or ____.” Yeah. Problem.)
So, as you may suspect, there are many more quotes and scenes I wish I could share, both serious and humorous, but they would be spoilers… and, alas, I must leave them for you to discover yourself.
GO READ IT. NOW.