We’re once again digging into the list of the best of 2016 where I found a number of literary delights including a few romance novels. Anyone who knows me well knows that I normally detest books describing love stories (despite being a sucker for love), save ‘Wuthering Heights’ and probably a few others that I haven’t read yet. “The Fault in Our Stars”, however, can’t be described precisely as a romance novel. It’s that and a little heartache, which is what I liked about it.
“The Fault in Our Stars” is one of those books that you will either love or hate; there is no room for indifference. It all depends on whether you have lived with cancer or known someone who has died of cancer; experienced an unusual love (or are a hopeless romantic like me!); can appreciate the metaphors and the characters’ philosophical nature; how open-minded you are willing to be while reading, and your opinion of a happy ending. I happen to be one of those who love John Green’s masterpiece. Modern literature set in present times is not my preferred choice either but I sure did enjoy reading this book. It’s not the typical, Disney fairytale; it’s an unusual love affair.
Hazel Grace Lancaster is a 16-year-old girl suffering from the “side effects of death”: thyroid and lung cancer. She shares her life with the oxygen tank at her side. John Green has created a treatment called “Phalanxifor” that magically limits the growth of the tumours in her body. Hazel lives her days however she can manage: reading her favourite book repeatedly, attending a support group and visiting her doctor. That is until she meets a delicious, 17-year-old plot twist, Augustus Waters, in “the heart of Jesus” at the support group. Much to Hazel’s surprise he is very hot and very interested in her. He’s also an amputee whose leg was removed because of terminal illness.
From there the story blossoms into an unconventional love story. The couple spend their nights musing about each other and sending text messages, just like normal teenagers, but the fear Hazel has of being a “grenade” and Augustus still carelessly, blatantly capturing her heart is what makes the novel beautiful. “You realize that trying to keep your distance from me will not lessen my affection for you? All efforts to save me from you will fail.” For teenagers, these two had experienced some dismal moments already, but the story almost makes you want to believe in untainted love.
Hope is not a major theme in the book. The writer creates sensible characters who are aware of their situation and have accepted it. Throughout the novel Hazel and Augustus express the annoyance of being pitied. They date and socialize as normally as they can, ignoring the fact that Hazel’s days are grace and uncertain, and they take advantage of their “cancer perks”: Augustus uses his wish from the Make-A-Wish genies to transport himself and Hazel to Amsterdam to visit the author of their favourite book. It is there that the most painful disappointments of the story occur as well as some of the most outstanding scenes. One of my favourites is an elegant dinner date which I felt is when they truly fall in love.
“The Fault in Our Stars” is one of the most read examples of modern, young adult fiction, probably because John Green has synchronized romance and tragedy brilliantly. Initially the tale is similar to the storyline of “A Walk to Remember” by Nicholas Sparks until the most devastating of all its plots. I will not spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read the book yet but I can say that it will either make you cry a lot more than the movie ever will or it may be too pretentious for you to resist ranting about it. And if you didn’t know this simple fact before: the book is always better than the movie!
This book is available at the bookYard.
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