Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “The Fault in Our Stars”

BanannerPants’s #CBR4 Review #7: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

     I am the only person on the planet who did not like this book. I’ve talked to others who have read this book, and I felt a little differently than the other people . I wasn’t as completely overcome. I didn’t fall in love with it, or whatever positive emotion others had.  It’s actually been months since I’ve read it. I put off reviewing it because I knew I was the only person who didn’t like it. I’m not saying it was all bad; it just wasn’t for me. There was terminal cancer and love and teenagers. Only one of these things interests me, and even then terminal cancer can only hold my attention for so long. Eventually I need it to hold up to its name and end.

It was sad, but dumb. I may be the only one who thinks this, but I’m not backing down from it. Too many things were coincidences and too many things could only happen in a fantasy world. Sure, a fantasy world filled with terminal cancer, but still. Fake make-a-wish foundations and trips to meet reclusive authors are part of a fantasy world. Also, really sweet teenage boys are part of a fantasy world.

There were parts of it I liked. Mostly the words John Green uses and the way in which he uses them. It is a nice, easy, pleasant read. I didn’t have to flip to an index or keep a dictionary next to me to understand it. It’s very accessible. Oh, that’s because it’s for teenagers. Right. I’m not its target audience so I should stop shitting all over it. It was fine.

I know we were supposed to care about all of these people so much. It was a book full of empathetic characters; we’re supposed to root for all of them and hope beyond all hope that a cure for everything is found and they all get to survive forever. Of course, they can’t. They just can’t and I think we’re supposed to be completely devastated at this realization, but we’re naive if we are. It’s not a support group for the common cold and sore throats. It’s a support group for kids with terminal cancer. We’re being setup for heartbreak; you have to really deliver serious heartbreak.

I just didn’t care for it. Also, I’m a bit of a cynic. I do like its title though. It’s fun to say.

faintingviolet’s #CBR4 review #15: John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars

 

This book. This freakin’ book. I tweeted it as my Friday Read a couple weeks back and the lovely MsWas told me to get the tissues. While I didn’t out and out cry I did want to curl up with a blanket and hug something or someone when I got to the conclusion. But I was warned about that (h/t narfna).

This book has been reviewed a few times for cannonball, but it’s my first experience with John Green, and although this is YA, and to a certain extent reads that way (there’s a lot of  extremely lucky turns of events that are written off as cancer perks. Cancer perks are real but occasionally it felt a bit convenient), it was good times. Green kept me on my toes even when I was pretty sure I knew what was coming. It should be known that this book’s main characters are all cancer patients at various stages and their families. You definitely need to know this before you sign on to read it, because as I said before – you might need tissues or a blanket to get through the end.

Our narrator through the journey is Hazel, she is sixteen and cancer has gone ahead and settled in her lungs. There is a miracle drug (just in the book) that has stopped the growth and for the time being she’s holding steady but required to bring her own oxygen wherever she goes. However, her mother has decided that she’s depressed and with her doctor’s direction, Hazel is forced to attend a support group. Hazel doesn’t want to go, stating that depression is merely a side effect of dying and not to be worried about. But, as it is in the world of fiction, it turns out to have been for the best that she attends.

At support group we meet Augustus and Isaac. Isaac is a known quantity to Hazel. Augustus on the other hand is something new altogether. I appreciate that Green wasn’t afraid to write the meet cute in a cancer support group. Life doesn’t stop just because you have cancer.  On a lark Hazel shares with Augustus her favorite book and they begin their relationship from there.

I won’t devolve into a plot summary. But the relationships these characters share read and ring true. You get it all with them: hope, love, sorrow, tragedy, triumph, humor. The whole deal. 

Green is careful to point out in his Author’s Note that this book is not about anyone, and is strictly speaking a work of fiction. I respect that. I will however point out The Fault in Our Stars was dedicated to Esther Earl, who’s picture reminds me of what I thought Hazel looks like. Her family has set up a foundation in her honor to support cancer families, This Star Won’t Go Out and is worth a visit, particularly if you have some dollars you can afford to donate.

Betsys5Avengers #CBRIV Review #1 The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

John Green’s books never cease to disappoint me. I’ve read them all: Looking for Alaska was a decent first effort, but disappointing. I hated An Abundance of Katherines with a passion, and the beginning of Paper Towns had promise, but ran out of steam in the second act. I did enjoy David Levithan’s half of Will Grayson Will Grayson, I was unsatisfied with Green’s. Unfortunately, The Fault in Our Stars is no exception.

I don’t get it. John Green is similar to Neil Gaiman in that he is an author I’m supposed to—and really want to—like. The premises of his novels sound great (which is why I always run out and buy them), and I love watching his “Vlogbrothers” and “Hank Games without Hank” series on YouTube. He always comes off as funny, honest, inventive, and thoughtful in his videos, and while all of these traits are evident in his writing, it is not nearly enough for me. However, The Fault in Our Stars is easily his best.

I won’t bore anyone with a plot summary, since this book has been reviewed on CBR IV already by people who are much better at writing reviews than I am, but TFiOS is centered on two teenagers who meet and fall in like (and later love) in a cancer support group. Eighteen-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster has thyroid cancer, and Augustus Waters had a bone tumor that resulted in the loss of a leg (I think. I’m not entirely sure). Green’s first achievement was not making this a story about disease. The characters have universal issues and concerns: overbearing parents, stumbling over condom use during first time sex, video game suckage, and friends who aren’t completely genuine. Yes, Hazel and Augustus are sick, and yes, plot points involve around their illnesses, but TFiOS is not about cancer. It’s about what all John Green books are about: teenagers on the brink of discovering who they are, who they love, how they feel, and, ultimately, how they fit into the universe. Often times, it involves some kind of scavenger hunt, road trip, or foundation. In TFiOS, Hazel and Gus go to Amsterdam in search of their favorite author, Peter Van Houten.

I liked The Fault in Our Stars better than Green’s previous works because of the characters. This is the first time Green has had a female narrator, and I think he is much better at writing well rounded girls than his milksop-y boys. Hazel, Gus, and the supporting players (particularly their friend Isaac, another cancer survivor) are brilliant. They are intelligent, witty, extremely charming, believable, and, okay, a little precocious. They somehow manage to jump of the page and come alive, which is why the ending is…erm…sad, to say to the least.

However, the rest of it kind of fell apart for me. I’m honestly tired of the “Let’s go on a trip to find ourselves!” device, and while I like that John Green dares to be philosophical, he often makes a point, states the theme, or has the characters learn a lesson, only to repeat it over and over (and over) again. The repetition made it extremely hard to finish, and I sort of felt like the book was about twenty pages too long.

That said, I recommend The Fault in Our Stars. It’s far from perfect, but it is an engaging read about two amazing people. A warning: the more sensitive folk among us should keep a box of tissues on hand, just in case.

Scootsa1000’s #CBR4 Review #11: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Even though I have a pretty big stack of finished books that need reviews, today I decided to write about The Fault in Our Stars while the tears on my face were still wet.  So many people have already written about this book (and written about the crying), and I don’t really have much to add, but I’ll do my best.

For those few who don’t know, TFIOS is the story of Hazel and Augustus, who meet in a teen support group for kids with cancer.  Hazel has terminal cancer in her thyroid and lungs, and always has her oxygen tank hooked up and totes it around with her.  She knows she will never get better and spends her time watching reality TV with her parents and obsessively reading the same book over and over.  Augustus is a cancer survivor (but he did lose his leg to it) and is beautiful and funny.

They bond over books and their quick wit brings them together fast and furiously.  Their love story is beautiful and real.  And so very, very sad.  I had to put the book down a few times when I couldn’t even see the words anymore.

I’ve read that the story and the Hazel character were inspired by a beautiful young girl named Esther Earl (you can read her story here).

And I’m curious to know — based upon the subplot with Peter Van Houten — how many writers get inquiries from fans (who are ill) about how some of their popular series/characters/books will end up.  I’ve read enough Stephen King to know that he was constantly bombarded with questions from readers who would never make it to the end of the Dark Tower, dedicated fans who wanted to know what happened to the characters that they loved, and that he wasn’t able to tell them, because he didn’t always have an answer for them.

I remember seeing this link on the IO9 website a few weeks ago, “Scifi author spoils his entire book series for terminally ill fan”.  The video is heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time, and I thought of it when I finished the story of Hazel and Augustus.  And yeah, the video made me cry, too.

You can read more of my reviews on my blog.

sevenstories’ #CBR4 Review #21 – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I was a bit hamstrung by the fact that I really loved this. A lot. And I find reviews of books like that super difficult, I’m not particularly pleased with my review but at least I’ve finally written it.

“Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, 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 everyone leaves behind.”

Oh my goodness, this book is amazing. I apologise in advance for a review that exists mainly as a long stream of gushing compliments that can in no way successfully show how much I loved this. I will try and form some sensible, well-thought out opinions about why I loved it but I can’t make any promises. A cancer book, but not a ‘cancer book’, so get any thoughts of Nicholas Sparks style tosh out of your head and find yourself a copy of this book as quickly as you humanly can.

You can read the full review on my blog.

First Line: ‘Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.’

Malin’s #CBR4 Review #20: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Hazel is 16. She has incurable cancer, so knows that it’s only a matter of time before she dies, but thanks to some miracle drug, she’s currently doing fairly ok, as long as she drags a tank of oxygen around with her at all times. Her mother spends all her time taking care of her, and worrying, and making sure she goes to Cancer Support Group to battle her quite-natural depression about having cancer and knowing she’s going to die young. Hazel thinks Support Group is a big waste of time, until one day, she meets Augustus Waters there. Augustus is 17 and lost his leg to osteosarcoma. As Hazel says: “Osteosarcoma sometimes takes a limb to check you out. Then if it likes you, it takes the rest”.

Augustus is handsome and charming and witty and instantly taken with Hazel, comparing her to a mid-2000s Natalie Portman (and even with this description, I adored her). He agrees that Support Group is dreadful, and they quickly spark up a friendship that starts turning into something more, even though Hazel wants to distance herself from everyone, afraid of becoming a “grenade”, blowing the lives of those around her to pieces when she inevitably dies, yet Augustus tenaciously refuses to keep his distance. They discuss films, games, life, poetry, art, and especially bond over Hazel’s favourite book, An Imperial Affliction by Peter van Houten. The book, also about a teenage girl with cancer, ends mid-sentence, and both Hazel and Augustus become obsessed with finding out what happened to the other characters in the book after it ended. They correspond with the author by e-mail, but he refuses to tell them unless they talk to him in person. He lives in Amsterdam.

Now, Hazel used her dying Wish (from the Make a Wish Foundation) on Disney World before the miracle drug made her somewhat better, but Augustus still has his. This is their chance to go to Amsterdam and talk to the author of their favourite book, getting some kind of closure before Hazel’s life takes an inevitable downturn.

I’m convinced The Fault in Our Stars will be among the best books I read this year, even though it’s only February, mainly because it’s one of the best books I’ve read in years. I bookmarked a dozen pages or so just for the amazingly quotable lines. The book made me laugh out loud on public transport, getting me puzzled looks from fellow commuters. It made me sob uncontrollably on the couch, freaking out my cats. If you make it to the end of this book without both laughing and at least getting teary eyed, you are some sort of unfeeling machine. It’s an amazing book, and while the protagonists are kids with cancer (or recovering from cancer), the horrible, deadly disease is not the focal point of the book at all.

This is one of those young adult books that I desperately wish had been around when I was actually a teenager, because I would have killed to get my hands on it. Hazel and Augustus are amazing kids to read about, and it breaks your heart that their love is so star-crossed. She’s dying, he’s recovering. You know it’s all going to end in tears, but you keep turning the pages because you can’t not. You have to find out what happens next. This is going to be one of those books I gift to people in years to come, just to make sure I can talk to them about it. Now I just have to track down John Green’s back catalogue of books, to see if they’re as amazing as this one.

Originally posted on my blog: http://kingmagu.blogspot.com

narfna’s #CBR4 Review #04: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

God DAMMIT, book.

I don’t really think there’s any other way to properly express my feelings for this book, at least none so cathartic, than swearing as loud as I possibly can. And on the internet, that means USING AS MUCH ALL CAPS AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. And look, I was raised Catholic and my mother taught me that the ‘F’ word was ‘Fart,’ so naturally I grew up to fucking love swearing and shit, but I have never been able to bring “goddammit” into regular usage. It is the swear for extra special occasions, because it makes me feel like I’m stomping on my own soul with a dirty boot whilst giving God the finger. But I think, in this instance, God would understand. In fact, I think God might even agree me on this point, because fuck you, John Green. Fuck you for making me feel all of these fucking feelings.

Okay, so you know those awful cancer books you read when you were a kid? Most of them were by that asshole Lurlene McDaniel — and seriously, what was that lady’s problem? — I WILL WRITE ABOUT ALL OF THESE KIDS DYING AND IT WILL BE AWFUL AND I WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO KILL YOURSELF, TOO. (That was Lurlene McDaniel as a robot.) Most of the books had covers of sad kids hugging teddy bears and shit, and, spoiler alert, ALL OF THEM DIED. Look, I was like nine years old. I liked Barbies and The Lion King and my favorite books were about slug aliens trying to take over the world. But every time I saw that stupid book on my shelf my chicken-sized body was filled with inexplicable rage. Of course, I recognize this feeling now and can call it by its proper name, which is wanting to shove a rusty nail through your eyeball rather than look at that thing anymore, because I am much more familiar with hyperbole now (and violence).

So all of that is to say that The Fault in Our Stars is NOT a Cancer Book. It is a book with cancer in it, but it has these other things called “characters” and “plot” and “themes,” and none of it is forced or self-indulgent or shoot-me-in-the-face-Jodi Picoult/Nicholas Sparks (the adult versions of Lurlene McDaniel). In fact, I wouldn’t have even gotten near the book if I didn’t think so highly of its author (I highly recommend subscribing to the Vlogbrothers channel on YouTube, incidentally . . . so many of you are Nerdfighters and you don’t even know it). John Green — judging by his online persona at least — is a very smart, kind, creative human being who talks very fast, and writes very clever, and his latest book is a reflection of it.

I think we can all agree here that CANCER IS THE WORST, and that reading a book about two kids who have it falling in love with each other sounds like just about the most depressing thing one could possibly think of, and it is really super fucking sad (I’m not even going to try to lie to you, because bringing up cancer in a book is like introducing Chekhov’s gun: you know it’s going to go off somewhere, but you just don’t know when). But Green’s protagonist, Hazel (and her scrumptious one-legged paramour, Gus) are not romanticized, and they’re not to be pitied. They have strong, unique voices, which are more often than not, very, very funny. Like so many in these kinds of stories, Hazel and Gus don’t exist to die, they exist to . . . well, that would be spoiling it. My only advice to you upon reading this book is that when you pick it up, for God’s sakes, please make sure someone is there with you when you finish it, because when I finished, it was 1 AM in the fucking morning, and I was laughing and crying hysterically AT THE SAME TIME, and NO ONE WAS AWAKE TO GIVE ME A HUG OR PUNCH ME IN THE FACE. (Both of those things, by the way, are probably what I’m going to do to John Green if I ever meet him.)

But alas, I cannot hate him, because look at that face:

[Link to original review here.]

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