Rating: 5 of 5 stars.
DISCLAIMER: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS AFTER THE CUT."Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you."
It's been months now since I finished this book and I am still absolutely gutted every time I think about it. My thoughts are stars I still can't fathom into constellations. (DID U C WUT I DID THAR...AGAIN?) GREEN, YOU MADE ME FEEL SO MANY FEELINGS.
And I guess you could argue this is an annoying way to review, but dammit, I'm going to do it. I'm going to do it because visuals are so very needed. Yes. This is going down in .gif form.
When I first heard about The Fault in Our Stars, I was all:
Because: "OMG, JOHN GREEN! I LOVE JOHN GREEN! JOHN GREEN IS THE GREATEST THING EVER AND HE IS MAGICAL AND NINA AND I QUOTE HIS BOOKS LIKE BIBLE VERSES."
Then I read the synopsis:
"It's about cancer kids! Is there anything in life sadder than cancer kids?"
But then I was all:
"Whatever. It's John Green. And John Green in fabulous."
Then I got my copy. And I started reading. And I instantly connected to Hazel.
It's been said by others, but Green definitely follows a formula with his books. You see his characters over and over again. Quentin from Paper Towns. Pudge from Looking for Alaska. Colin from An Abundance of Katherines. Will Grayson from Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Margo, Alaska, Lindsey, and Jane. Radar, Ben, Colonel, Takumi, Hassan, and even to some degree, Tiny Cooper. They're all a little clonish of each other. Not quite mirror images, but pretty damn close. While some has bitched about this, talked about how annoying it is to see these characters reincarnate with only minor differences, I love it. I am a believer in this formula. I will preach on the brilliance of this formula. It works. I connect with each of these characters and wish they were real so I could befriend them all personally. They're all similar, yes, but they're also so emeffing endearing and charming.
Then here comes Hazel Grace Lancaster, and she's not like the others. She's not a Pudge or a Q. She's not even a Margo or an Alaska. She's something entirely different, and not simply because she's a girl (a first for one of Green's protagonists, as far as I'm aware) or because she has terminal cancer. She's just... lovely. Quiet and unassuming and self aware and so bloody honest about everything from her feelings to her impending death. Hazel is a girl you want to call up at 2am just to talk. You want to spend Saturday morning hang out with her, driving around in her mom's minivan, drinking slushies and going nowhere. Not because you feel sorry for her because she totes around an oxygen tank wherever she goes, but because she's Hazel Grace and Hazel Grace is awesome.
So while I'm getting to know Hazel and learning what makes her tick and I'm going with her to a support meeting for kids with cancer, it happens.
We meet Augustus Waters.
I immediately, instantly, wholly, fell in love with Augustus. The minute he thrust that unlit cigarette in his mouth and it explained that it was A Metaphor: "You put the killing thing between your teeth but you don't give it the power to kill," I knew this boy was it. I didn't just hand him my heart. I thrust it at him, yelling, "TAKE IT. TAKE IT NOW. IT'S YOURS. DO WHATEVER YOU WANT WITH IT. I DON'T EVEN CARE." He didn't disappoint. Hazel Grace might have fallen for Augustus, "like you fall asleep. Slowly, then all at once," but I fell in love with him at first sight. There was no going back.
Like many of Green's books, there's beautiful and hilarious quotes galore and laughs and some close calls and we're even treated to a road trip (this time international!) and everything is plugging along nicely. I'm falling more and more in love with Hazel and Gus, together and also separately, and to some lesser degree, eye-losing Isaac, but beneath all this, you know, you know you know you know, that shit is about to get real. Something is going to happen and it's going to fucking cut and maim and burn and gut and destroy. And then. AND THEN:
WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING WHAT OH GOD NO. NOT YOU. AUGUSTUS. NOT YOU, BB.
The entire time you know that someone isn't going to make it. You can just feel it. You hope that it's not the case, but you get the sense that you're being set up for it. Everything is quietly and slowly heading that way. It's underneath every laugh. Every lovely moment where Hazel and Gus grow closer. But who you're expecting, or at least, who I was expecting, was Hazel. She seemed obvious. She seemed like the logical choice. Augustus was in remission. Hazel was not. Hazel had accepted her death. She knew it was coming, it was only a matter of when. I did not, under any circumstance, expect for Augustus to be the one that received the death sentence. I didn't expect for it to happen so quickly. But it did and for the rest of the book, this was me:
Little known fact about me: I don't like to cry and I don't like to read stories that make me cry. In fact, I hate books that set out to make me cry. They make me angry. They make me more than angry. They infuriate me. How dare you, Mr. or Ms. Author, force my tear ducts to work. How. Dare. You. But here's Green, handing me this soul destroying story, making me curl up in a ball and sob my bleeding heart out over this boy I've fallen in love with, and in the middle of it, he's making me laugh.
"Augustus Waters was a self-aggrandizing bastard. But we forgive him. We forgive him not because he had a heart as figuratively good as his literal one sucked, or because he knew more about how to hold a cigarette than any nonsmoker in history, or because he got eighteen years when he should've gotten more.""Seventeen," Gus corrected."I'm assuming you've got some time, you interupting bastard."I'm telling you," Isaac continued, "Augustus Waters talked so much that he'd interrupt you at his own funeral. And he was pretentious: Sweet Jesus Christ, that kid never took a piss without pondering the abundant metaphorical resonances of human waste production. And he was vain: I do not believe I have ever met a more physically attractive person who was more acutely aware of his own physical attractiveness."
"But I will say this: When the scientists of the future show up at my house with robot eyes and they tell me to try them on, I will tell the scientists to screw off, because I do not want to see a world without him."
And there it is. I'm sobbing like a little bitch again.
Despite all the tears shed, despite how badly Green gutted me through Hazel and Gus' stories, hands down, this has to be my favorite Green book. It destroyed me. It filled me with warmth and giggles. It made me want to take it to bed, hold it close to my heart and cuddle it all night. It reminded me, once again, why John Green will always be one of my favorite authors.
Even if, many months later, I'm still like this when I think about the last line, "I do, Augustus. I do.":
DAMMIT, AUGUSTUS! ME TOO! ME FREAKING TOO!