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My rating: 4 stars (or is it 3 stars - I can't decide)
"Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind."
Why I decided to read TFIOS? Truth is that I didn't have much luck with John Green's novels. I did read only one book, Looking for Alaska, and my judgement may have been clouded by bad translation. Or I just didn't find the story very convincing. To be honest, final nudge for me to read The Fault in Our Stars was the movie - I didn't want to watch it before reading the book.
Did I like it? The Fault in Our Stars would have make bigger impression on me if I had read in 2012. when it was published for the first time. Since then I was constantly reminded by my bookish friends how amazing it is and don't even let me start with all the annoying fan art. This doesn't mean that I didn't like it, but I did have standard "hyped books" issues. You recognize all the emotional and intellectual layers of the story, but nothing makes you feel that wow-factor because everything you had read was expected. Even the ending.
Five reasons why I think TFIOS is brilliant. (1) John Green managed to turn a book about death into a book about living. Yes, it is sad and yes, I did cry in the end, but generally this is very positive, more often idealistic, story about struggle with cancer. (2) Peter van Houten. Bitter old man, writer and eccentric voices few things, very true things, that most of the people wouldn't say because it's "impolite" or socially unacceptable". (3) Three completely different characters - Hazel, Gus and Isaac - with same problem. (4) Hazel's dad and his theory about universe wanting to be noticed. (5) This is not just a sad love story, something most of the reviews I've read points out as focus of the story. Yes, there is a love story, but you have to read between the lines and you'll see a lot of other things. Few you wouldn't like, for some you'll think they are really cruel things to say, but I find them the best part of The Fault in Our Stars because they are honest.
John Green is new Stephenie Meyer. I am not talking about content of their books (obviously), but I do have in mind the influence and worldwide obsession with his work, especially this novel. It became like this whole new subculture. You don't even have to doubt that it is a really great thing for author and sale's numbers, but for me as the reader, that is something distracting. I'm afraid that TFIOS would have same fate as books we have to read in high school - we are afraid to say we do not like them because everyone tells us that Tolstoy or Balzac are literary geniuses, so we feel obligated to find their novels worthy of all the praise even before we pick them up and read them.
So, what did I hate about it? John Green has this annoying habit - I noticed that in Looking for Alaska, too - he is a big fan of witty conversations which you have to read few times to understand them and in the end you realize they are not so funny. Quite contrary, everything looks pretentious and unbelievable. Also, I have this feeling that Green is one of those authors from category "if-you-read-one-book-by-this-author-it's-like-you-read-them-all". One thing that makes me want to scream and hurl the book under the super fast moving train that will destroy it into the pieces is standard American Europe cliche.
I am glad that I finally read this book, I liked it, there are things I didn't like and I can't wait to see what they did with it in the movie.