Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars


It’s no secret that I haven’t been very successful at keeping up with this blog. Since my promotion at work, I have been downright exhausted at the end of the day, and the thought of reading or writing a blog post is far too overwhelming. Not that I’m complaining! Seriously, I love my new job, and I actually enjoy doing something that keeps me mentally motivated and challenged. But it isn’t very conducive to extracurricular creativity.

That being said, there’s still plenty of time left in the year. It’s a bit of a daunting process at this point, but I have every intention of getting through 84 books and sharing the process with you guys. So don’t give up on me, because I’m not giving up at 84 just yet!

Luckily, this latest post is about a book a enjoyed, and one that was a breeze to get through.

With that in mind, Book 23 of Project 84 is:

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars
By John Green

I know, how cliché, right? But I couldn’t help myself. Everyone and their mother (literally) was talking about this book, and I love Shalene Woodley, so I had to take on the original before seeing the movie. I’m glad I did, because the movie was definitely not my bag. But the book was much more satisfying.

The plot, in case you live under a rock or have a penis, is actually sadder than I expected. Hazel is a 16-year-old dying of lung cancer. In fact, she should have died years ago, but an experimental drug gave her a new lease on life. How long of a lease? She doesn’t know. Early in, she meets Augustus at a support group meeting, another teenager with one leg due to a bout with osteosarcoma. Despite Hazel’s best intentions, the two fall in love, and the book really becomes about living life no matter what your prognosis.

A little about me before we get into how I felt about this book. When I was a preteen, I was obsessed with books like this. Kids with terminal illnesses, hospital stories, the kind of books that made you cry. Lurlene McDaniel was the queen of the genre, and she wrote books with titles like Too Young To Die, Time to Let Go, and Mother, Help Me Live. Each one was sadder than the last, but for some reasons I couldn’t stop my somewhat morbid curiosity. I grew out of it, at least to some extent, but The Fault in Our Stars would have been right up my alley if I was still 13.

As an adult? I don’t know if it was my favorite novel of all time, but it was at least enjoyable. The writing was a bit pedestrian, which makes sense with the intended audience, but the story was strong. I finished it in a flight, which speaks to how compelling it is, but also to the simplicity of the writing.

The biggest challenge I had with the novel was that I couldn’t quite figure out how I was supposed to feel about Hazel. It’s an issue I run into with many young adult books, particularly ones I enjoy. At one point in the book, Hazel and Augustus go to visit a writer who penned a novel about a young girl with cancer. The novel ended abruptly, and Hazel wanted to know what happened to the characters once the book was over. The writer was, for lack of a better word, a dick about it, and basically told her that nothing happened to the characters…because they are characters, and they’re gone when the book is over.

Yes, he was a dick…but the real problem I had was that he is RIGHT.

If Green was trying to make a point about Hazel being a naïve teenager, who is more afraid of death than she admits to, and afraid of the wake her death will leave, then I get it. If the point is that endings aren’t convenient, or easy, and stories will always be incomplete because they don’t end when we want them to, I appreciate that point, I agree with that point, and I can relate to it.

But, on the other side, if he’s trying to say that Hazel is correct in this situation? That makes me roll my eyes. And by putting the words in the mouth of the “asshole” character, it immediately discredits them, when I think that the point is the most eloquent one in the book.

Or maybe it doesn’t matter what Green’s intention was. The point about endings not being convenient or easy is a good one, whether intended or not.

Would I recommend The Fault In Our Stars? Absolutely. See what you think! It’s an easy read, you’ll have plenty of people to discuss it with, and I found the book a lot more satisfying than the movie (and I’m not someone who always says that. Some movies greatly exceed the books).

***

I thought an entertaining, popular book was a good way to get back into blogging. As I said earlier, I have every intention of completing 84 books this year, even if it’s become a bit more daunting than it was 6 months ago. I have a reading schedule set, a blogging schedule set, and if I stick to it I should be able to do this no problem.

So expect more blog posts coming up. I’ve begun writing them any time I have a free moment, so I should be able to post a few more this week and get back into a regular schedule. I hope you’ll stick with me through the rest of the year. Whether I get to 84 or not, I’m not giving up, so there will be plenty more to read from this process!


Next Review: Invisible by Paul Auster (Estimated Posting Date: Saturday, July 26th)

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