Green, John. 2012. The Fault in Our Stars. New York: Dutton Books.
Rating 3,5 stars
(review in Indonesian, click here)
(review in Indonesian, click here)
Why I read this in the first place?
This is my first John Green’s. I actually surprised myself because I willingly read this book. It’s against my own reading policy, really. But, here’s the story behind it. I was surfing in Youtube and stumbled upon this video. This girl in the video talks about The Fault in Our Stars. She highly praises it and clearly states that she literally bawled her eyes out while reading the book. And, here’s me, a type of reader who doesn’t find utter attraction into tragic fiction stories, or books that are purposely written to made its readers cry it a river.
A little out of topic, I never really have a solid reason to explain my reading fondness.... I guess, for most part in me, I read as an escape. That’s why I prefer a story with happy-ending. I want to feel happy, so I read books, I want to entertain myself. Well, the world has already given enough tragedy, so why do I want to spare time to read tragic fiction, right? It’s different if it comes to tragic non-fiction. I could easily accept it as a reality or a figment of human history, because I know that reality is not always beautiful but needed to be faced strong-heartedly nonetheless. And that’s why I feel unthrilled to give chance to tragic fiction books.
So, why the heck did I read this insanely famous tearjerker book? Again, the fault is in that Youtube video. The girl says, after reading The Fault in Our Stars, there’s a song came up into his head, it’s Forever and Always by Parachute. Being me, I was more curious to hear that song than to read the book. So I googled the song. (Illegally) downloaded it. Found the lyric too. Listened to it with lyric on screen. Cried my heart out. Listened to it again. Still made me bawled. Listened to it one more time. I STILL EFFING CRIED! Seriously. Until you read this review, I still will cry whenever I hear that song. It’s painfully beautiful and tragic beyond anything. I like that song so much. And somehow it made me felt responsible to also read The Fault in Our Stars, although both (the song and the book) are completely unrelated.
Ignorance is bliss.
When I started reading and noticed that this is a cancer book, I actually hesitated to continue. You could say, I’m surrounded by cancer. Some important people in my life were passed away because they ‘lost’ the battle against cancer. I also have a family member that’s still battling until now. I am completely aware that I am a cancer potential, due to my family history with cancer. I always tend to avoid any cancer-ish topic. If anyone brings that topic up, I’ll listen wordlessly, or just pretend to listen. The pain from being left by my dearest person who defeated by this illness, is still great. It made me numb and, heck I just want to run away from it. I know, this is one of my needs-to-be-dealt-with-but-i-cowardly-ignore-it problems.
I always had this secret suspicion that I was special.
The leading character, a 16 years old girl named Hazel Grace. She suffers a type of cancer that makes her hard to breathe because her lungs just always have more liquid than it should. It sucks. Personally, I really like how this character thinks and deals with her cancer problem, but I guess it doesn’t that pretty in real life. Hazel’s way, in my opinion, is way too ‘ideal’ for a cancer patient. I really wish all the cancer patient in this vain world could be as strong, as rational, as patient, and of course, as lucky as Hazel Grace. It just made me couldn’t really comprehend Hazel while reading this story.
“Keep your shit together,” I whispered to my lungs.
And then, there’s this guy, a 17 years old Augustus Waters. He suffers a type of cancer that makes him lose one of his leg. Augustus is portrayed as perfection in his imperfection. I mean, for a nerd like me, Augustus is absolutely a prince charming who rides a unicorn. His unique metaphors, his intelligence seen from how he thinks and sees everything, his sincerity and spontaneous way that is able to melt every girl’s heart, and do not forget his ability to create mega-romantic sentences. Although he’s a one-leg man, Green creates him as a very handsome guy that also has a nice body. Again though, too good to be true. Yeah, yeah, it’s a fictional work, but isn’t it too damn perfect for a contemporary novel?
I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.
I didn’t find any surprising twists in this book. Ordinary story but very very well written by Green. Frankly, I could read until the last pages because Green really has this great sense of humor and his writing style totally satisfied me. But, thinking it again, what does this story really want to tell? For me, it leaned more to philosophy side more than the romantic side. Reading The Fault in Our Stars made me pondered about life, and it didn’t really made me drunk with its love story. Both of the two main characters have such interesting and deep way in seeing things. Hence, while reading the book, I paid attention to their unique thoughts more than anything.
Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.
So, did this book make me cry? Yes, of course. But not because of the story plot or whatnot, it’s more because I took it personally. I could imagined the pain and depression faced by cancer patients, imagined how their families’ feelings. Pissing or crapping the bed, puking uncontrollably, mumbling incoherence things, all of those are very painful in every way for the sufferers, and the same pain goes to them who accompany and witness their battle. Anyway, there’s one part that made me ugly cry, it’s that last part in the book. It’s so heart-breaking and sad but still beautiful. My heart hurts right there.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
I know, a 3,5 stars rating seems unfair for The Fault in Our Stars. But it’s purely my subjectivity and I don’t intend it to represent this book’s quality as a whole. I’m not really that regret for reading this book, in fact I kind of enjoyed it. But, for giving a 4 stars rating, which means ‘perfection’ in my rating system, just kind of hard for me. I just can’t make myself to do it. I guess it’s because I took this book too personally and it’s not easy for me to imagine there’s this parallel universe where cancer patient could be like Hazel and Augustus....
I take quite a lot of pride in not knowing what’s cool.
In the end, what I could learn from this book is, no matter how miserable your life is, don’t lose your sense of humor. The best think that could happened in shitty condition is for being able to smile, although you probably don’t find any reason for it, and to make people around you smile too.
“I’m pretty sure all asses are blind,” Isaac answered.
“I went to Support Group for the same reason that I’d once allowed nurses with a mere eighteen months of graduate education to poison me with exotically named chemicals: I wanted to make my parents happy.”
“My third best friend was an author who did not know I existed.”
“We’d gone perhaps a mile in jagged silence before Augustus said, “I failed the driving test three times.” “You don’t say.””
“I didn’t tell him that the diagnosis came three months after I got my first period. Like: Congratulations! You’re a woman. Now die.”
“Pain demands to be felt.”
“Not Disney,” he said. I said nothing.”
“... most parents don’t know really their children.”
“My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations.”
I actually really enjoyed Green’s writing style, but do I plan to read his other tearjerker books in near future? I guess...