I didn't fall in love with this book. This is a book for desperate young girls to read, so that they too can believe that their torrid romances mean mI didn't fall in love with this book. This is a book for desperate young girls to read, so that they too can believe that their torrid romances mean more than the fleeting glimpses into adulthood that they actually are. Hazel and Augustus, I would argue, fell in love quickly our of necessity, not slowly, and then all at once, as Hazel so famously (infamously?) states. But, like most teenage romances, their love does not carry the depth and sophistication that adult relationships do (but oh how they tried!! All those metaphor-laden cigarettes and the champaign sipped out of dixie cups and the exhaustingly unrealistic witty banter parleyed between the tongues of kids that are too young to understand, but who force themselves to at least try to before the buzzer goes off!) and as such the ideas in this novel are easily-digested by the hopeful and idealistically disenfranchised youth.
I do not say this in an attempt to dissuade anyone from enjoying this book. I will admit, I cried at the end, although I was thinking less about the plight of Hazel and Augustus, and more of the futility of life in general... and some thoughts of my student loans crept in and once the waterworks started I couldn't turn them off... What I mean to imply is that this is a simple love story that follows the same formula as countless other works, both famous and otherwise irrelevant, that were penned before it. Working within the relatively strict boundaries of disease, the book ended predictably with the concept that love carries on regardless of the physical confines of the human body, through memories and, thankfully (and sometimes thanklessly) through the written word. This is shown both idealistically, through the exuberance of Hazel's treasure hunt for the final words of her "lover," and tragically (pathetically? futilely?) through Peter Van Houten's attempts to immortalize a version of his daughter that hadn't been given an opportunity to exist.
Furthermore, this novel is grasping for an enemy upon which to lay blame for all of the pain experienced by the unfortunate souls bearing the literal heart of Jesus within their own bodies (by which I mean the inevitable sacrifice their lives make so that everyone else can continue living in their wake). Cancer is the obvious choice, but Green makes it pretty clear that one cannot resent mutation for doing what it was programmed to do -- as Hazel says, cancer just wants to live, just like everyone else. Instead, enemies are created out of seemingly unimportant, throw-away characters. Isaac's ex-girlfriend Monica is vilified for her apparent abandonment of someone in their time of need. Augustus's ex-girlfriend was cast in shadows for having an "asshole tumour," which, interestingly, calls into question whether it really is heroic to stay with someone as they are dying. Augustus reviles Monica, but she did what he, in all his hyper-masculine "save-the-day" fantasies, could not do, which is walk away when you've been asked to walk a tightrope made out of your own emotional insecurities.
But, I digress, there are problems with this novel that perhaps would not be worth the time it would take to explore them, but as I have tried to make clear, this is a novel for young adults, and it is written perhaps with only the intention of entertaining a subset of our society who cares less about the complexities of the human condition, and more about what it would be like to experience what could be your only first kiss, first love, first everything, before it all tragically and unapologetically gets taken away.
And who is to blame? Why, the attention-seeking universe, of course.
This was a quick read, and mildly entertaining. Anyone looking for some good ol' fashioned sexism will find it in ample doses here. To really help youThis was a quick read, and mildly entertaining. Anyone looking for some good ol' fashioned sexism will find it in ample doses here. To really help you get into the book, turn it into a drinking game -- take a shot every time a sexist comment is made. By the end you'll be just as drunk as Bannion! ...more
I didn't love it. I didn't hate it. For that matter, I'm not sure that I even particularly LIKED this book as a cohesive entity.
I suppose my main issI didn't love it. I didn't hate it. For that matter, I'm not sure that I even particularly LIKED this book as a cohesive entity.
I suppose my main issue with this book is that it's a whole lot of everything and a whole lot of nothing at the same time -- which, I suppose if you wanted to give Robbins more credit, might be the entire point. Regardless, I did enjoy the parts more than the whole. I found such characters as the Chink and the Countess to be quite entertaining. Other characters such as Julian and Bonanza Jellybean seemed to fall flat.
Robbins seemed to jump from one activist platform to the next. One minute I felt like I was reading a novel espousing the importance of environmentalism, and the next I was taken on some feminist roller coaster. I suspect Robbins may have wanted to wrap up both subjects in a neat little package, intertwining their elements through thoughtful storytelling. However, I believe he missed his mark. The story felt disjointed and his attempts to draw the reader's attention to "important" symbolism is as obvious as the over-sized thumbs on Sissy's fists. If I were to give Robbins more credit, I would suggest that he had done this intentionally. In this case, however, I don't think Robbins is as adept at subtlety as a story like this requires.
Furthermore, Robbins' frequent destruction of the fourth wall was frustrating. No, dear author, your constant presence is not required for readers to understand your murky writing style. It reeks of paternalism and is poorly placed in a novel that attempts to shake off the shackles of a lifetime of male oppression (Or -- again, if I was to give the author more credit -- such a technique isn't poorly placed at all).
Whatever you choose to believe about Robbins' skill as an author, this book is, at the very least, entertaining. And, at the very, VERY least, much better than the movie.
This book is nothing better than fodder for grocery store bargain bins. It reads like some old lady's CSI fan fiction (which, I suppose, is pretty damThis book is nothing better than fodder for grocery store bargain bins. It reads like some old lady's CSI fan fiction (which, I suppose, is pretty damn close to what it is). Johansen's ham-fisted attempt at navigating the mystery genre had me on the edge of my seat as I was counting down the pages until this self-indulgent tripe was finished.
The character construction is shoddy, at best. Eve Duncan is the middle-aged woman's answer to Nancy Drew, with none of the charm, intellect, or (presumably) good looks. Her natural talent for getting herself involved in painfully endless dramatic scenarios is only heightened by her complete inability to do anything but get in the way of their resolution. The author seems to have written a character so weak, helpless and meddlesome that one could venture to suggest that she's put the women's liberation movement all the way back to the early 1900s. Eve Duncan seems to only hold a gun when one is thrust into her hands by a well-meaning and indulgent member of the patriarchy, most of whom treat her like an idiot who would be better off staying on the side-lines -- apparently for her own safety, but it reads more like the menfolk don't want a troublesome woman getting in the way while they take care of adult business. Even Eve's male love interest, Joe, forced her to stay away from the action several times, simply because he felt her presence would prevent him from doing his job to the best of his ability. The author is apparently incapable of manipulating this character trait to her advantage, and instead of developing a strong female character who succeeds in spite of the roadblocks placed her way by the males in her life, Johansen creates a bumbling, delusional, emotionally-compromised woman who can reconstruct a face, but can't reconstruct her life after the death of her daughter.
And what can be said about Eve's surrogate daughter, Jane? The twelve year old, bursting with so-called street-smarts, is apparently representative of what is good and pure in the world. She is supposed to exist as a foil for Eve's own jaded personality. However, this goal is never fully reached, as Jane's character is so painfully underdeveloped that she provides nothing to the plot progression, and only serves as a constant reminder of how weak and pathetic Eve is -- presumably not the kind of foil the author was looking for). Jane is just another unfortunate female character caught in Johansen's crosshairs.
This book was painful to endure. I have never been so thoroughly unimpressed with an author and am disappointed that my stubbornness prevented me from stopping reading this book entirely. I am baffled that this book has been so well-received on this website. ...more