Sunday, January 15, 2012

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

  • Reading level: Ages 14 and up
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (January 10, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0525478817
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525478812
  • List Price: $17.99
  • I finished this book on January 11

Okay. Right off the bat I need to tell you that I'm a nerdfighter. What's that? One of John and Hank Green's legion of fans. Author John and his brother Hank have a wildly successful youtube channel full of videos to each other. Seriously, clicking that link will make you cooler/a better person/more attractive. Nerdfighters battle to decrease world-suck. The motto is DFTBA which stands for Don't Forget to Be Awesome. I may or may not have a shirt that says Keep Calm and DFTBA (spoiler: I do). I should also tell you that I would probably leave my boyfriend for an opportunity to have lunch with John Green. (Sorry, Boyfriend). In the words of one of my students: I want to marry his brain. He's definitely on my Wall of Boyfriends at work. Yeah, that's a thing.

Anyway, one thing Nerdfighters are is internet savvy. There are about 8000 online homes for TFiOS love right now, not to mention several different websites devoted to Nerdfighteria. Including: TFios homes - pictures of happy people with their brand new copies of the book. Oh, did I mention that John Green notably signed all the copies of the first run of this book, so those that pre-ordered got books signed by him in various colored sharpies? Because he did and that's awesome. It was also accidentally released early by a Barnes and Noble slip-up that involved sending out pre-orders early. John was understandably upset that the book might have jerks spoil it. But, because Nerdfighteria is awesome many people promised not to open or read the book before it's official release date on January 10. I didn't pre-order (not sure why, I would have liked a signed copy) but I went to the store after work on Jan 10. As you could see by the info up top, I finished it Jan 11. Whatever else he is: John Green is highly readable.

Anyway, having said all that I'm not sure how much I need to actually talk about the book here, because there's just so much about it elsewhere online. Either way, here's the review:

First off - it's a cancer book. When I found out about that way back when I was all sad trombone noise. I do not like to cry. Actually, it's kind of a miracle I like John Green at all since my tastes tend to run more toward body counts, boobs and blood, or at least magic. I don't like my entertainment to be too feelingsy. And I knew Green + cancer book would = lots of feelings. Hurty ones. So feelingsy in fact, that someone posted this....

Original image, of course, from Hyperbole and a Half

And here's the thing, I was right, but it makes you feel ALL the feelings - sadness, sure. But also happiness and hope. So that's nice.

Anyway, the book is about Hazel, a teen who is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and has to lug around an oxygen tank and a lot of sarcasm everywhere she goes. At the beginning of the book she goes to a support group for cancer teens and meets the dreamy Augustus Waters who is recovering from osteosarcoma. There is much banter and falling in love. I mean, these two have a lot in common: cancer, statistically improbably names, and a love of witty repartee.

So Hazel introduces Gus to her favorite book An Imperial Affliction (which also has it's own tumblr). It's a book about cancer (naturally) and the thing Hazel wants most (well, besides you know, a cure for cancer) is to meet the author. Gus, (because, did I mention he was dreamy?) figures out a way to make that happen. There's a cancertastic trip to Amsterdam and a lot of talk about Swedish rap music. It's very romantic (not the Swedish rap music, that sounds like the Swedish chef plus the Natalie Portman SNL rap video - and oooh Gus tells Hazel that she looks like Natalie in V for Vendetta. Full Circle!) . That's all the plot info you get.

One thing I love about Green's writing is that he isn't afraid to use wonderful vocab words (if you've read all of John's books and never had to check a dictionary, I bow to you). His characters are also so damn smart and funny and make these wonderful references. The title in fact, is a Shakespeare reference. My teenage self was not nearly that brilliant. Hell, my adult self isn't.

My favorite John Green is still An Abundance of Katherines, because I like things a little more silly. But I am very happy with this little dose of life a la John Green.

So now: please enjoy some hideous Swedish hip hop.

Soundtrack: Afasi & Filthy - Glider

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