You guys, I know it’s a book about teenagers with cancer. I want you to read it anyway. It’s not sappy. It’s biting and funny and sarcastic and real in a way I don’t think I’ve read before, certainly not in Young Adult and absolutely not when referring to kids with deadly diseases. John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars is simply outstanding.
I had high hopes for this one, loving Paper Towns and An Abundance of Katherines as much as I did, but I was surprised at how good it was. I didn’t see myself in the characters at all, Hazel, Augustus, and Isaac are braver and more honest than I think I would ever be, but I did love them. Prickly Hazel, determined not to get close to people and cause them more pain when she’s gone. Augustus, charismatic and and thoughtful, but not a paper saint. And Isaac, their witness, who should have been a supporting character, but who felt so much more important than that.
Hazel’s favorite book (and a major plot point) ends in the middle of a sentence. Hazel tells herself that she’s come to terms with the book just stopping, to represent the end of the narrator's viewpoint, but she’s obsessed with knowing the postscript. She wants to know what happens to the other characters in the story. Hazel is convinced that the author has imagined their future, refusing the concept that characters cease to exist when a story end. I’m a big believer that characters live past their creation and enough authors like Larry McMurtry have talked about past characters coming back to haunt them until they finished the story that I would place bets that John Green knows exactly what happens to each of his creations.
I said I don’t see myself in these characters, but there’s an early passage that is completely me. Augustus is driving Hazel for the first time and he hits the gas too hard and brakes too suddenly. He tells her the story of his driving test.
Sorry. I swear to God I am trying to be gentle. Right, so anyway at the end of the test, I totally thought I’d failed again, but the instructor was like, “Your driving is unpleasant, but it isn’t technically unsafe.”
I think I’ve heard that before.