I just now finished this book and I want to write about it while it's completely fresh in my head and the emotions are still raw. I hate that we lose some of that rawness after a period of time with books, but I suspect this one will hang around for awhile. I talked to two friends during the last 100 pages. I talked to my dear Renay over gchat to tell her "I don't know that I've read a book this emotional before. It's like he said 'how can I mentally destroy my readers for a few hours'" and then I texted my Matt and told him "God, I've literally cried through 70 pages of this book and there are still 30 pages left."
Let me mention that I don't think John Green is a sadist. I don't think he intentionally set out to destroy his readers mentally. But lord did he. In a good way though. This is a big statement from me, but I don't think I've ever known another author to get to the heart of the human experience and to touch upon human emotions so well as John Green does it. He's done it in all of his novels, but he's written a true treasure here. Something that can't be repeated.
As I think most people know, The Fault in Our Stars is about young people living with cancer. And I think the word "living" in that sentence is important. It's a gorgeous, yet heartbreaking tale of two people, Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters, finding love and beauty in the moments that they are able to share together. Being able to accept that life blows sometimes, that it's not always pretty, but that there are moments and people that make it undeniably awesome.
There's not much more to say as far as the plot goes. There's an amazing book within this book that I wish actually existed, and an author that Hazel and Augustus want to meet, but that arc is not the central theme of the book. The theme is once again the experience of that book and of wanting to meet the author. This is a book of experiences. One that hopefully we won't all face, specifically when it comes to cancer, but experiences that we can all benefit from and hope to have.
As for criticism of the book itself, I really have none. The characters are top notch. They are so three dimensional that I can visualize them so easily. They're human. I can imagine them outside of this novel. They're flawed and they're perfect. I remember, I once emailed my friend, Ana, years back when I was writing my first NaNo novel and said "I'm not really sure how to write from a woman's point of view." And honestly, it's one of the best discussions I've ever had because Ana showed me the fault in my thinking. I may never know the experience of being a woman in today's society, but I know how to be HUMAN. To say I couldn't write from a woman's perspective was really unfair and that conversation was one of the best I've had. John Green proves that point in this novel. The book is told from Hazel's perspective and John Green is certainly not an adolescent girl, but he gives us this beautiful human in The Fault in Our Stars.
I don't know what else to say really about this book. I feel like I could ramble for days about it, but rambling is usually not a good idea when it comes to me and writing. If you want more beautiful thoughts on this book along with some of my favorite quotations from this book, I'll point you to Debi's review who is NEVER allowed again to say that she doesn't write good book reviews. I think you'll find that's just not a true statement.
"That's the thing about pain," Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. "It demands to be felt."P.S. Once you finish the book, you should go read Ana's amazing thoughts on the book.
-The Fault in Our Stars, page 63
She puts into words so beautifully so much of what I cannot.
P.P.S. Just found this fan art by Amy Irving and it's freaking adorable: