I was trying to write my reviews in order because I'm a sensible kind of person like that, and then I read The Fault In Our Stars and couldn't contain my... Anything. And if you think that means I'm about to gush about it like 99% of the reading population, then clearly you haven't been following me on twitter.
This book. It's kind of terrible. And it shouldn't have been as terrible as I found it and I might be exaggerating its terribleness even to myself because of all the INSANE hype that surrounded it (remember last year when you couldn't swing your bag around the book blog world without hitting someone going 'OMG IT'S THE BEST THING I'VE EVER READ!') but I really didn't like it. And it was set up as something it seemed like I'd like- there was the book-within-a-book thing (we'll get to that later), the cancer thing (not that I like cancer BUT I have a certain interest in the topic and I'm not against reading something heartbreaking), and the thing that's like 'I don't want to make anyone like me because when I die they'll be sad', which is a really depressing but interesting way to be thinking, I think.
But. I hate the characters. Haaaaaaate them. And it's not even that I hated the way they spoke (which was annoying, let's face it), but I didn't feel like I knew them well enough to actually care about what happened to them. It was kind of like reading an obituary of someone you didn't know at all- it's vaguely sad, and you're not happy that they're dead, but you can't really care because it doesn't personally affect you. This book did not personally affect me.
I didn't care about Hazel (the main character- a cancer sufferer, but one who isn't dying just yet) any more than I care about other self-centred teenage characters who believe that their way of doing things is the only way of doing things. Seriously- this girl allows herself to feel whatever she's feeling and that's the only right way to feel it, whereas everyone else's feelings- about her disease, about how they grieve, whatever- are wrong because they're not hers. I'm not saying that's not a very teenage way of acting, and maybe Green's point is that she's allowed to act like a teenager even though she has cancer (which is fair!) but I think it's more 'This girl! Look at how awesome she is. LOOK AT HER.'
And then there's Augustus (I mean, Augustus. Compute on. This is not the last days of Rome. I'm about to get loads of angry comments from Augustuses, aren't I, except NOPE, there aren't any.) I actually liked Augustus (Nope. Can't do it. We're calling him Gus.) in a way that I didn't like Hazel so much, BUT he's not real. At all. There is nothing about this kid that would exist in any way in the real world because he is ridiculous, and not in a good way. (Alley called him a Manic Pixie Dream Boy in her review and I am SO JEALOUS that she's already said it because she's completely right.) And this is just one example of his incredible ridiculousness: He puts cigarettes in his mouth. And doesn't light them. So as not to give the thing that could kill him the power to do so.
You know what, that IS bullshit. It's 'a metaphor' and I get it, but metaphors are really only found in words and not so much in real life, and all I can think when he says that is, 'so, dude actually wastes money buying cigarettes that he doesn't smoke, thus handing over money to the corporations behind millions of deaths? Smart!' And if that had only come up once I'd probably be over it, but it's used again and again in the book as a motif for how awesome Gus is, but if you didn't find that awesome? It's just a constant reminder of how annoying these characters are.
What else? Well, the writing isn't as good as everyone claims it is (it might be good for YA, but I'll take Rainbow Rowell any day) and it kind of disturbs me that someone would read it and find it the most profound book they've ever read. To me, a lot of the things Green says about illness and life and death, I've seen elsewhere, better expressed, and without characters that made my eyes hurt from rolling them so much. In general, the writing kind of swings from authentic** teenage narration (lots of 'likes' and stuff. WHICH was actually really annoying and is it that annoying when I do that in reviews? Please say no!) to a more highbrow way of saying things, sometimes in the same paragraph and WHAT IS THIS? Please choose one way of writing and stick to it. Please?
Now, for the book within the book. There's this book that Hazel really likes (An Imperial Affliction) which sounds like the book John Green wishes he'd written (meooow) and is all meaningful to her and stuff. All of which is cool and I was sort of excited about this plot point. But then, even though it's a big part of the book, it's... kind of a shitty storyline. It turns into a 'never meet your heroes' sort of warning, and then ends with a teenage girl giving a grown man advice that she is in no way qualified to give. The point is, this. At one point, Hazel says to this grown man 'I think you're a pathetic alcoholic who says fancy things to get attention like a really precocious eleven year old.'
That's not what you and your boyfriend have been doing the whole book then (apart from the alcoholic bit). Ok, cool, glad we sorted that out. And here endeth the story of how I snorted during a sort-of funeral scene.***
Oh and by the way, did you know that Gus is really super hot and Hazel thinks she's not at all pretty but he thinks she's the most glorious person ever? Surprise!
I shan't bother you with my anger for much longer, but I will just say this: just before I started reading, I read the glowing praise on the back (SUCH glowing praise...) and the two authors blurbed were Marcus Zuzak (he of The Book Thief TERRIBLENESS) and Jodi Picoult, who I have read exactly two books by before realising they were all going to be the same, and who I am still mad at for the ending of My Sister's Keeper. This set off all sorts of alarm bells in my head, but I read it all the same, and hence I have learned- trust your bookish instincts.
But if you want to read this whatever, you can probably do it in a few hours and it won't hurt your brain much as long as you ignore the emotional manipulation regarding characters you've been given no reason to like (cancer is not a reason to like someone).
*NOT the (500) Days of Summer gif I wanted. But it'll do.**Authentic in terms of the way teenagers actually speak.
***Needless to say, I didn't cry. FULL DISCLOSURE: I did get a lump in my throat towards the end because CANCER IS SAD OK, but I refused to make the same mistake I did with The Book Thief (tricked into crying)
"but I didn't feel like I knew them well enough to actually care about what happened to them"ReplyDelete
Ooh. Yes, that thing. You've actually pretty much articulated why I didn't really like it, only I never thought about it much so I was just like "THE TEENAGERS SPEAK IN A JUNO WAY AND I DON'T LIKE IT."
I've already angry-blogged about this YA trend, but it's the worst. Sure, let's write about witty teenagers, but let's also NOT validate them by making them seem right about everything. Good Lord. I was utterly not sad when this book ended and that felt wrong because it apparently makes everyone weep. AGH. Anyway. Excellent review, ma'am.
That thing was a thing I only figured out when I was writing this- it was like a little lightbulb of 'oh! I'm not a terrible person! I just wasn't given any reason to CARE.' It was cool. I didn't even mind the way they spoke (THAT much... possibly because I was prepared for it) But just ALL THE OTHER THINGS were bad.Delete
I remember that post! I was like 'I haven't read enough YA to comment on this' but NOW I have and yessssss you're so right. Just... No. No. And oh, hey, remember how I laughed at a funeral? Either we're terrible people OR this book just sucks. Or both?
Girl, I DNF-ed this overwrought and melodramatic clap trap with a quickness. I dropped it like it's hot, except it's not hot, it's the lamest.
You DNF-ed this AND The Book Thief?! You're like my own personal hero! It didn't get better, so you did the right thing. *nods solemnly*Delete
This is why I haven't dared to touch a John Green book yet. Maybe I will some day, but it'll not be this book, for sure.ReplyDelete
DON'T DO IT! I can't think of a situation where I would recommend it to any person ever.Delete
Aww....I actually LOVED this book. Can we still be friends? *looks down, studies shoes, waits for a response*ReplyDelete
This book made me laugh hard (in the good way, not in a "I'm laughing at how bad this book is" way) and cry hard and I LURVED it.
but I still prefer Eleanor and Park.
Hmmmmmm... I'll think about it (it's fine, you prefer Eleanor and Park! All is forgiven!)Delete
I mean... I'm happy that you got things (emotions!) out of it that I really couldn't get because I reaaaaally feel like it was a waste of time reading it. And I'm glad it wasn't for you!
Ahaha I love this review, even though I liked this book more than you (but way less than most other people).ReplyDelete
Augustus paying money for cigarettes and never lighting them did seem so stupid. Like Yes, great metaphor. You know the cig companies don't actually CARE if you light them. I guess they'd prefer it cos you'd go through them quicker but you buying them means they're making money either way, so you know, win for them.
I think everyone who finished this book must have liked it more than me. I was pretty much just hate-reading it by the end.Delete
If you buy cigarettes but don't light them, you're going to live longer (except... not in this case) so you can carry on buying even more cigarettes so surely they prefer it if you don't light them? I just really don't think the kid thought this through and he definitely didn't think about how FUCKING ANNOYING IT IS
As I read your review, I'm reminded of a MOVIE. I think the two main characters are somewhat similar to Hazel and Gus but without being so damn annoying...and also they're in a psychiatric ward. So no cancer sads. "It's Kind of a Funny Story." I would recommend it if you haven't seen it already.ReplyDelete
BUT WATCH CEREMONY FIRST.
Wait... Are you saying 'there is a movie like this book'? Because why would I want to see that?! Except also, maybe, that sounds cool. Will I actually care about these characters, THAT WOULD BE NICE.Delete
Ceremony is NEXT on my lovefilm list. I just have to watch Smashed first which shouldn't be difficult because Aaron Paul!
Hmm...you have a point. But I remember liking it? I guess I would say it's MORE like Perks of Being a Wallflower, if I had to compare. And Zack Galafianakis, whom I find generally delightful, is in it.Delete
ACTUALLY I'm totally lying about that because apparently Ceremony is 'not currently released.' WTAF?Delete
It's Kind of a Funny Story is also a BOOK by Ned Vizzini. Which I happen to really want to read, and did not know there was a movie too. WE HAVE ALL LEARNED SOMETHING HERE TODAY.Delete
Still haven't read a John Green book. I just have this impression that reading one of his books is going to be a lot of "ooh, I'm so clever" nonsense. I did have Fault of Our Stars on my Goodreads to-read shelf, but I've now taken it off.ReplyDelete
I'm pretty sure it's ok that you haven't read any of his books. I mean, that's the route *I'd* encourage you to take with your life!Delete
I didn't even touch on the book within a book subplot in my review because it was SO STUPID and it just seemed like filler to me. Like Green was like "fuck, my book is only 117, how do I make it longer?" and threw in a bunch of bullshit with the author and the trip to Amsterdam and NO.ReplyDelete
I think I liked it more than, or at least I was completely 'no opinion' on it. I eye-rolled and didn't care about the characters, and definitely didn't like it but I also didn't care enough to hate it. It just exists.
I've been trying to decide whether to read another Green book but I don't think I have the energy because I suspect they're all pretty similar to this - "witty" and "intelligent" teens who are so unique and different and don't follow the norm. Blechhh.
I HONESTLY believe that the imaginary book is better than this book and it doesn't even exist. That has to mean something. That whole bit was stupid though, AND in the acknowledgements there was something about how he got funded to stay in Amsterdam for months, and I'm like 'you spent months in Amsterdam and the best place you could send your characters was Anne Frank's House?' Not that there's anything wrong with Anne Frank's house but COME ON everyone goes there, and ALSO aligning these two people with victims of the Holocaust? I think NOT.Delete
God, there are so many things I didn't even begin to criticise...
Indifference is stronger than hate. Like, it's further away from love than hate is, anyway! So maybe you ACTUALLY non-loved it even more than I did.
I definitely can't read another one of his books. Obviously. I'd probably roll my eyes right out of my face.
Ugh, I hadn't heard about him being sent to Amsterdam and that's really annoying because Anne Frank's house is totally the place you'd put down if you went to google search and hit Amsterdam + tourists. Super lazy.Delete
Yeah, I think in the acknowledgements it's like 'thanks to this fund for letting me stay in Amsterdam for months' because LITERALLY all he did that he had to be in Amsterdam for was count the stairs in Anne Frank's house, and that would take about 5 minutes. I mean, I could have written that!Delete
Jeez, I'm kinda sorry I bought this book during all the hype because now I'm seeing all these people that I share reading tastes with and seriously respect as BLOGGY PEOPLE and they all hate it. This does not bode well. I have at least 2 John Green books on my shelf, unread, and now I feel a bit crap about it. Like I should give them a chance but they might be a waste of reading time? Does that make sense? Will I get attacked by an army of die-hard Nerdfighters for saying that? LIVING LIFE ON THE EDGE HERE, BABY.ReplyDelete
Also, can I just say that I actually grinned like an idiot when this post appeared in my blog reel. I was like, "Hehe, YESSSSSS, this is the one we've been waiting for!" :D
I don't knoooooow what to tell you! Because I'm sort of glad that I got to write a ranty review about it, but also I kind of wish I hadn't bothered? But I feel like you should try one, maybe, and see how you feel? Because apparently people have liked this book! So there must be reasons for that that I am apparently immune to, but you might not be!Delete
Hahahahaha, I am ridiculously pleased about this! Everyone should always be waiting with baited breath for my rants.
Oh you have no idea how happy this review makes me. Partly because I love your angrier reviews, and partly because it makes me feel totally justified in not picking this up. I already eye-rolled my way through one John Green book, and I wasn't sure I wanted to try another, but people loved it sooooo much. But yeah, screw that noise. I'm not bothering.ReplyDelete
Oh duuuuude, I'm glad to have a perspective on another John Green book because whut they ARE all like this? That is very good information to have! I unrecommend this big time, so yeah, you make good choices.Delete
I ENJOY THAT YOU LOVE MY ANGRIER REVIEWS! I love them tooooo, and they're kind of rare these days because I tend to not even finish books if they piss me off too much now! So yeah. I will continue to be cantankerous for youuuu Sarah haha (it's totally for me too).
I LOVE YOU LAURA.ReplyDelete
1) I skipped a lot of chronological reviews in order to talk about this too, just because I NEEDED to spew it all out. It was fairly cathartic, actually.
2) Mmm-hmm. Mmm-hmm. MM-HMM. That was where it fell down the most I think - the characters were all awful. Augustus is meant to be some smooth charmer, but he was rude and had a STUPID smoking thing. What's-her-face was whiny and selfish. Yes, I know she has cancer, but that doesn't preclude her from being those things!
3) I liked The Book Thief and My Sister's Keeper, but the former because I liked the book aspects and the latter for the legal aspects. Neither affected me, and yet both somehow affected me MORE than TFIOS.
4) It's just not... good. I really don't understand why this is meant to be so amazing. I saw it filed in the adult section at Waterstones last week, when this is CLEARLY CLEARLY CLEARLY YA. I think I'm annoyed with it more than it probably deserves because it tricked so many people into thinking that it's good, just because it's about Cancer.
5) Which leads me to the other thing. I feel like I have to point out that I understand cancer is a horrific thing, just because I don't like this book. It feels like saying I don't like it is akin to saying that I have no sympathy for cancer sufferors, which is NOT TRUE. I got shouted at on Twitter when I posted my review, by a random 14 year old.
Oh, I've gone off Twitter at the moment. Text me or e-mail me if you need me!
This comment is so awesome that I had to come back PAST MY HOMEPAGE to reply to it :)Delete
1) I honestly had so many reviews to write (hence posting FIVE of them this week) but I couldn't contain my mouth at this one because just NO. Had to air my frustration right away!
2) The characters are awful! And it's not even acknowledged that they're awful! If it was like 'they are just like ordinary teens and I'm not going to treat them any differently or say they should be better than anyone else because they have cancer' then I'd be like, yeah, that's cool, because cancer sufferers are not saints. But nope, it's like 'they're terrible, LOVE THEM.' Ugh.
3) I can see the things you would like in both of those books! But I just can't with them. To be fair, I didn't mind My Sister's Keeper so much until the ending pissed me off, AND THEN I read another Jodi Picoult book and it was THE SAME BOOK and I was like fuck this and kind of got retroactively pissed off with her.
4) Ugh, adults should not be reading this book. *I* am too adult for it and I'm basically a child, so. I think it definitely tricked people into thinking it's good because it's about cancer and this is ALSO why I'm annoyed at The Book Thief, because it tricked people into thinking it was good because it's 'about' the Holocaust (which it isn't, even. Or only a tiny bit is.Mostly it's about WWII)
Ugh, published too soon! ALSODelete
5) if anyone ever said to me that I don't have any compassion for cancer sufferers I would laugh in their stupid faces. I don't dislike them because I don't care that they have cancer (which they DON'T. They are characters) I dislike them because they are terrible terrible people and do nothing to make me like them! 14 year olds are morons.
COME BAAAAAAACK to twitter!!!!!! (But of course I shall text if I need you :) )
1) Yeaaaaaah, I have about 18... I have a target of three though today, so fingers crossed! I also want to do that alphabet survey thing you do (although my own entertainment really... I love those damn things!). Still though, if I read this for the first time now (if that even makes sense) I would STILL skip all my outstanding reviews just to rant about this.Delete
2) EXACTLY. It's like it goes out of it's way to make the characters horrible. Normal teenagers would be fine, because then the point of the book would be that Cancer Teens are normal teenagers too. But here the point seems to be that Cancer Teens are actually WORSE. Arrrrrrgh.
3) They are all the same. I've read three or four, but I only felt the need to KEEP MSK. I love medical and consent law, so it's kind of a no-brainer. She has another one about consent relating to frozen sperm that I want to read for the legal issues, but I KNOW I'm not going to like the story :/
4) NOBODY should be reading this book, never mind adults. I wish I could ban this book, genuinely. I'm not a Snobby Book Person - I read YA and that's fine. It's THIS book I object to!
5) I think I told them to go back to my review and point out where I'd EVER degraded Cancer as a concept.
6) I will, but not yet. I got sacked from work theoretically because of Twitter (but not really, there were actually more sneaky reasons), but that was their excuse. It's not Twitter's fault, but I'm still too grumpy over it to want to use it lol.
I recommend this book to anyone and everyone. But one warning: be sure to keep a box of tissues nearby. This story of self-discovery is a real tear jerker and really makes the reader appreciate life for what it is. The good moments and the bad. They all mean one thing= life.Delete
Marlene Detierro (Fishing Lodges Alaska)
I call bullshit. Everyone knows robots don't cry.Delete
I completely agree with your review. I was also irked by the wannabe deep philosophy going on. Everything was trying too hard. I hated the short scenes that didn't matter and I know he only included Amsterdam and the Anne Frank house because he got a grant to write there for two months. I hated this book, the pretentious, too cool for school characters, and the predictable drawn out plot line.ReplyDelete
I would love to read a review of yours about Mitch Albom, he irks me in the same way.
i am SO GLAD i found your review this morning. i was feeling totally soulless since i thought i was the only living human who HATED the book. but really, i'd rather eat one of the cigarettes that augustus spends the entire book sucking on than spend another hundred pages with those totally unloveable characters.ReplyDelete
Thank you! I felt so alone (literally, not metaphorically) because I'm the only person I know that hated this book.ReplyDelete