Jan 05, 15
Read from January 04 to 05, 2015
3.5 out of 5 stars
It took me forever to come up with a star rating. Realistic fiction really isn't my genre, and the only real reason that I read this book was because I am doing a read-a-thon challenge (least read genre). I figured that I should read this book at some point. I have read a few other of Green's books, and they are alright to me. They are my favorite books in my least favorite genre, if that makes any sense.
Before going into the book, I read some positive and negative reviews. Overall, this novel is very highly praised, and while I do agree that the book was very well written and made you think, I do agree with the people who say that it is a little overhyped. This book is very good; I just believe that if someone else had written the exact same novel, it would not be as popular. It does not make it any less of a good read. I just think it would not be as widespread, and that the book's popularity is somewhat connected to John Green's preexisting fame, which is very common among well-known authors.
Before I say any more, I want to establish that I (gratefully) have not had anyone very close to me affected by cancer. I had one relative pass away from breast cancer, but she was in her 70's, and having someone who is elderly and a teenager pass away from cancer are two very different scenarios. Therefore, I do not know what the mind set of someone who is dying at the age of sixteen is. I am aware that John Green was very close to Esther Earl before she passed away, and I know she inspired a lot of this book. However, I am not sure how much he really knows about being that sick. Having said that, a lot of people bring up the question of whether or not this was his story to tell. I think that as long as he did an adequate amount of research (as I said, I am not an expert), he has the right to tell the story. Being an author gives you the ability to tell someone else's story in a way that they cannot.
I did enjoy the refreshing take on dying and whether or not people who are sick feel like they are as strong and brave as healthy people make them out to be. In reality, they are actually scared and angry, and that makes the characters seem more realistic. However, the characters were honestly caricatures, and because of that, I could not connect with them. I did not cry, and the only time that I teared up were when Hazel's parents talked to her about dying because honestly, they were the most realistic characters in the novel. I though Hazel was just angry most of the time (though she did round out during the end). Augustus was just too ridiculously philosophical to be realistic. I thought Van Houton was a little unnecessary, but I actually kind of liked their trip to Amsterdam. However, that brings me into the part that annoyed me the most about the book. The plot was just so unrealistic. I understand that Green wanted to have a different spin on a "cancer" book, but it was straying out of realistic fiction to be honest. For example, when they kissed inside of the Anne Frank museum, everyone started clapping. And I can tell you for a fact that people would definitely not praise them in real life. It wasn't that the weird events annoyed me, it was the fact that that wasn't exactly what I was expecting. I felt like it was harder to connect to the story when I, as the reader, was constantly being whisked from one crazy scenario to another. A lot of people complain that their dialogue was not how teenagers would really talk, and their philosophical musings didn't bother me so much as some of the other things that they said.
"The great love of my life has a malfunctioning G-tube" (could be quoted slightly wrong). But seriously, no one says that. It wasn't that as a sixteen year old, she wouldn't be saying that, it is just as a 21st century human, she wouldn't be saying that.
I really did like how the book made me think about death and dying though. It was a refreshing perspective to me, and the incorporation of humor really encompassed all of life's ups and downs. I did enjoy it; I just was not blown away because I was thinking about the caricatured portrayal of these characters and events, which threw me off as I was reading. Many people enjoy it, so I would say that you should read it if you are a little hesitant. I think people come into these types of books with different life experiences and expectations, so one person's review cannot fully encompass the experience of this novel.