Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green tells the story of Hazel, a teenager with terminal cancer.  At a Support Group she meets Augustus, and the pair fall in love.

The subject matter of this novel should have made for a thoroughly depressing book from start to finish, and yet John Green has managed to weave a tale full of light and bubbling humour.  There were several bits which made me laugh out loud, and yet it is done with such good-heartedness that it is impossible to find it inappropriate.

But don’t be fooled by this humour – it is a book that will make you cry.  I have an icy chasm instead of a heart and I cried.  I’m not one to cry at books – my rationality tends to override my sentimentality (how am I supposed to read the words if there is all this water in my eyes?) but with this book, I couldn’t help it.

At one point I even said ‘F*** you, John Green’ out loud, which really should be taken as a compliment.  It is a testament to his skill as a writer that his work led me to yelling swear-words at him for making me feel all these emotions.

Even though the book starts cheerfully enough – and in fact continues to do so for the majority of the book – there is still a sense of impending tragedy in some intangible way.  The story manages to be simultaneously happy and sad, and I have no idea how he does it.

In a way, I was already predisposed to like this book.  I’m a subscriber to the ‘vlogbrothers’ youtube channel, which is run by John Green and his brother Hank, where they create and upload videos on a variety of subjects too numerous to list here.  As a result, I am a nerdfighter – a member of a ‘bizarre internet cult’ made up of ‘intellectual loners’ (thanks for that, Daily Star).  So I was already a fan of John Green, thus making it inevitable that I would love his book, right?

Well, not necessarily.  First off, I’ve talked (i.e. ranted) before about my views on having high expectations.  Secondly, this genre is very much outside of my comfort zone, there after all being no magic, mutant powers or epic battles, and the only gunfights via the characters playing video games.  I would never normally have picked up this book – and so, despite the uncharacteristic crying it induced, I am very glad that John Green makes such funny and informative videos or else I would’ve missed out on this little gem of a novel.

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