OMG! I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH! BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR! I DON'T CARE THAT IT'S ONLY JANUARY! LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! NERDFIGHTERS FTW!
As you might have guessed from above, this is less of a review and more of a love letter. Because I loved this book so much, I've become a creepy book evangelist, pushing on everybody I know.
Let me break down why I love this book:
- Even though is is a book about "Cancer Kids" it really isn't a book about dying. It's a book about living, and about choosing to use the time you have on the things that are important to you. Hazel has to make a choice about who she loves and why, and if it's worth the pain she'll leave when she goes.
- It's not a "brave cancer survivor" book. I too went through the Lurlene McDaniels phase. The girls in those books were always suffering in the most beautiful, silent way. They were so selfless and brave! So concerned with those they were leaving behind! This is not one of those books. Hazel, Augustus, and Isacc are brave. But not selfless. They are flawed and funny and annoying. They don't suffer beautifully. Their lives are unfair and full of pain. This book doesn't gloss over the ugliness of dying.
- The absence of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. John himself defines a Manic Pixie Dream Girl as "a perfect, effervescent, unattainable and hot young woman that, of course, only exists in the pages of young adult books". Alaska in Looking for Alaska, Lindsey in An Abundance of Katherines, Margo in Paper Towns. While the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is not my least favorite YA character, I do find her annoying. The main character in The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel, is not a MPDG.
- Augustus -- Oh, Augustus! I thought that Cricket Bell, from Lola and the Boy Next Door would be my #1 Platonic YA Boyfriend, but you, you video game playing hopeless romantic you, have taken his spot. I don't love you, love you, because you're 17 and fictional and that would be creepy, but I do want to play Bioshock with you and watch movies and eat enchiladas. Some people are arguing that Augustus is too perfect, and is in fact a Manic Pixie Dream BOY. To those people I say -- SHUT UP! Unlike a lot of too perfect boys in teen lit (cough*edwardcullen*cough) Augustus has had to face his own mortality, think about things that most boys bury under sports and bands and chasing girls. He felt very real to me, and perfectly imperfect.
- The Writing -- John Green writes more beautifully and movingly than any other teen writer I know. I started flagging my (signed!) copy of TFIOS to share some of my favorite passages, but, I was flagging almost every other page. I think this book is a big step forward for John Green, as it is less gimmicky and self consciously "quirky" than some of this other writing.
- It made me cry. Like a little girl. A little girl who's favorite My Little Pony is lost. In a Fire.