“Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.”
After putting this book down yesterday, I jumped on my computer, opened up WordPress and immediately began writing. After one hour of numbness, I shut down my computer, went to lay on my bed, and decided I’d be better putting my thoughts into words tomorrow. I’m glad I made that choice. A lot has changed in twenty four hours. I do not love the book as much as I thought I had. I am unhappy with the ending. I love the book, in some ways, more than I did yesterday. I’ve spent the entire day reading interview questions with the author, and I feel cheated by him, much like I do by life.
Firstly, most people either really love or hate a book that makes them cry. You either crave it, or feel repulsed by it. Some people just really don’t like to cry. Others, they bury themselves in it – relish the idea of a much needed crying-fest, caused by a fantastic novel, or soppy, bittersweet movie. Me, I absolutely adore a novel that will make me cry. So when I read the reviews for TFiOS, and I saw the thousands of people who admitted that this book had reduced them to tears, I just knew this book was for me. I downloaded the book to my Kindle and waited a few months before I decided I was ready. I know it sounds silly, but since I knew this novel would cause me to turn into an emotion wreck, I wanted to ‘use’ it at a time I needed to release such emotions. Last night I finished TFiOS. I did not cry. Not once. Not even a single stray away tear.
What an epic disappointment that was.
I can’t tell you why I didn’t/couldn’t cry. In some ways, I think that the novel left me feeling rather numb, and that certainly contributes. Mainly, though, I think I probably caved under the pressure of knowing that almost every reader had reported crying, not just crying, but sobbing, over this book – I think that maybe destroyed it for me.
I honestly believe that TFiOS is well deserving of the hype that it receives. It has easily become one of my favourite novels. Characters are strong, and well developed. It took me completely by surprise. I expected a book solely about cancer. I predicted an overbearing sense of fear, and pain, and everything else that goes with illness, instead, I got a story about love. The power of a first love. What I found most striking about the book was the connection and the depth that the writer creates between love, death and human emotions. In some ways, the human emotions that are felt by the characters are even more painful than the illness itself – and I believe that is something we can all relate to. You don’t have to be suffering from cancer, or know someone suffering from cancer to be truly affected by the raw human emotions of this book.
Where I felt disappointed had to be in the actual plot itself. There wasn’t really enough suspense or surprise. Nothing about the book never really had me at the edge of my seat (or bed to be precise.) Sure, I wanted to read on. I was intrigued, and captivated, and desperate to know more, but it was purely because of the characters. Hazel, Gus and Issac and Hazel’s mother, and the unforgivable yet later understandable Peter Van Houten all made this an unforgettable story. Hazel and Augustus are particularly striking in their own ways. Both are highly endearing. They are relatable, passionate, misunderstood, deep, witty and intelligent. She is Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta and he is the brooding teenage boy that is every teenage girls dream.
The quotes are perhaps another one of my highlights throughout the book. It’s absolutely full of beautiful and memorable quotes. I’ll leave you with a few of my personal favourites:
“The marks humans leave are too often scars.”
“My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.”
“That’s the thing about pain,” Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. “It demands to be felt”
“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”
“Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.”