Author: John Green
Publisher: Dutton Books
Published: January 10, 2012
Read: November 20, 2012
In A Few Words : Powerful
My Rating: 5 Stars
Goodreads: Add This To Your TBR Shelf
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
This is my first John Green book. I checked out An Abundance of Katherines once, but it got lost in the stack of library books and had to be returned before I could read it. Now that I've read The Fault in Our Stars, I want to gobble up the rest of Green's books as fast as I can if they're all as powerful as this one.
I've been seeing reviews of this book around the blogosphere for months now. Nearly all of the reviews have raved about it, so I was the tiniest bit skeptical that it would live up to all the hype, but it definitely did.
The Author's Note for this book is one of the more interesting ones I've seen.
"This is not so much an author's note as an author's reminder of what was printed in small type a few pages ago: This book is a work of fiction. I made it up.Neither novels or their readers benefit from attempts to divine whether any facts hide inside a story. Such efforts attack the very idea that made-up stories can matter, which is sort of the foundational assumption of our species.
I appreciate your cooperation in this matter."
When I first read this I thought it was strange that he would point this out. But, as the story goes on, I see why he did. I'm not sure that I fully agree with this point, though. Simply because I'm always wondering what an author's motivation is for writing a story they way they do and whether there are any hidden facts inside stories. As the saying goes, "Write what you know" so in many cases some of these stories must contain hidden facts. I don't, however, think that these efforts, should any reader choose to pursue them, attack the idea that made up stories can matter. If I did, I doubt I would have been nearly as attached an emotionally invested in this book as I was.
This book will take you on an emotional rollercoaster, so be prepared. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you may even laugh while crying, like I did. This book packs a serious punch.
Hazel is such a great character. She's sharp, witty, philosophical, and yet still teenagery at times, as her mother puts it. Hazel might seem bitter or cynical about her diagnosis to some, but I took it more as realistic than anything. Her voice in the story is real. It's natural and the dialogue, especially her internal monologues, flow so smoothly.
Some of Hazel's quotes are deep. I know this one has probably been quoted a million times, but it really speaks volumes about the story and about how Hazel feels.
"I'm like. Like. I'm like a grenade, Mom. I'm a grenade and at some point I'm going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?"... "I'm a grenade" I said again. "I just want to stay away from people and read books and think and be with you guys because there's nothing I can do about hurting you; you're too invested, so just please let me do that, okay? I'm not depressed. I don't need to get out more. And I can't be a regular teenager, because I'm a grenade." (Green, 99)This quote speaks volumes about how it must feel to live with cancer. I couldn't imagine it. And when I read this, I felt like I'd been punched. Hazel is realistic about her diagnosis. She doesn't like it of course, but she seems to have reached a place of acceptance.
And then there's Augustus. The oh so cute boy who happens to walk into the support group that Hazel and Issac attend. And he's interested in her.
I loved Augustus' character. He was the perfect mix of sweetheart and bad boy. I also love the touch of him having an unlit cigarette in his mouth all the time, and the reason for not lighting it. You'll have to read it to see what I mean. Augustus always knows just what to say. And I love how he calls Hazel "Hazel Grace" I don't know exactly why I love this so much, but I do. Their romance is solid, steady, and real.
A quote of his that I really loved:
"I'm in love with you," he said quietly.
"Augustus," I said.
"I am," he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. "I'm in love with you and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you.
Isn't that just perfect?
I also love that Hazel and Augustus bond over books. Hazels' love of a book called An Imperial Affliction. Though they do bond over the book (and much more) it's their experiences surrounding it that have taught me never to put authors I love on quite as high a pedestal because you never know what may happen to change that rose colored view of them.
There's so much more that I could say about this book. But it really is one of those books that you just have to experience for yourself. It's an amazing story that deals with so many important ideas and themes, that are not only important to teens but to adults as well.
This has definitely become my new favorite book of 2012 and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a powerful, moving story.