I have avoided this book like the plague. Oh, a YA book that has millions of teenage girls sniffling amongst themselves and wondering who will play wh...moreI have avoided this book like the plague. Oh, a YA book that has millions of teenage girls sniffling amongst themselves and wondering who will play who in the movie version? No thanks. Lurlene McDaniel cured me of ever having to read about dying teenagers again. Or so I thought. There are just so many great reviews about this book, and from people whose opinions about literature I highly value...And then there was this terrible bout of insomnia that struck on Friday night, and what was I supposed to do? Well, I started what I thought was going to be a terrible and tragic book that I would not be grateful to have read.
I'm glad I DID get over myself and my preconceived (and frankly pompous) notions regarding this book. It's a REALLY GOOD BOOK. It just is. It's not a "cancer book" as Hazel would say, and it's no Lurlene McDaniel tearjerker that you should only read when you're a menstruating 13 year old girl.
The characters are real, wholly fleshed out, smart, funny, and relatable. I mean, it just takes me RIGHT BACK to being a teenager - granted I wasn't terminally ill, but the themes of being a teenager in an adult's world still rang true. Sometimes they JUST DON'T GET IT!
I love that the teens in this book were such thoughtful consumers of literature - a nice foil to a lot of the crap we read about millenials and their tech-addictions. These kids not only faced death head on, but really THOUGHT about mortality, religion, belief, consciousness, and the purpose of life, heroism, and love.
I'm not sure that I followed the heroism plot as much as some others have mentioned that they did - I feel more like Gus was using heroism as an overarching concept covering "making some kind of damn difference".
While I didn't shed any tears over this one, it did make me think, and I've been thinking for hours since I finished the book. I'm impressed with how Green handled DEATH and DYING and GRIEF and TEENAGE ANGST, and how humbled the characters made me feel by their strength, courage, and selflessness.
No, I'm not sad I swam with the tide on this one and read one of the most popular books in the genre. It's a good book, and I'm glad I got to spend some time with the remarkable young people Green portrayed.
"'There will come a time,' I said, 'when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this' - I gestured encompassingly - 'will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was a time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that's what everyone else does.'"
"'Not your fault, Hazel Grace. We're all just side effects, right?' 'Barnacles on the container ship of consciousness,' I said..
"'I am in love with you, he said quietly.'...'I am,' he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. 'I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying rue things. I'm in love with you, an I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you.'"
"'You are going to live a good and long life filled with great and terrible moments that you cannot even imagine yet!'"
"'It's bullshit. I hate it. But it sure was a privilege to love him, huh?' I nodded into his shirt. 'Gives you an idea how I feel about you,' he said. My old man. He always knew just what to say."
"...the problem is not suffering itself or oblivion itself but the depraved meaninglessness of these things, the absolutely inhuman nihilism of suffering. I thought of my dad telling me that the universe wants to be noticed. But what we want is to be noticed by the universe, to have the universe give a shit what happens to us - not the collective idea of sentient life but each of us, as individuals."
"I felt that I owed a debt to the universe that only my attention could repay, and also that I owed a debt to everybody who didn't get to be a person anymore and everyone who hadn't gotten to be a person yet."
"You of all people know it is possible to live with pain."
"...it occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again."
"It was a kind of beautiful day, finally real summer, warm and humid - the kind of weather that reminds you after a long winter that while the world wasn't built for humans, we were built for the world."
"Hazel is different. She walks lightly, old man. She walks lightly upon the earth. Hazel knows the truth: We're as likely to hurt the universe as to help it, and we're not likely to do either."(less)