Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
First, a warning. If you are a crier, have tissue ready. This is definitely a tear jerker.
The Fault in Our Stars is a simple story with excellent writing, so excellent in fact, that I’m going to let Green do most of the work for me.
While the story is basic- Hazel is living with a tumor that will eventually claim her life when she meets Augustus, a cancer survivor, and they fall in love- there are a lot of intellectual discussions to be had.
Some are simple:
Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. p157
We’re all just side effects, right? p56
I missed the future. p205
Some are more complex:
All representations of a thing are inherently abstract. p122
Sometimes it seems the universe wants to be noticed. p149
I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in art because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it- or my observation of it- is temporary? p149
However, in my opinion, the best one is:
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. p190
Doesn’t this hit the nail on the head? I think it is human nature to want to be significant and we see and experience it every day. At a deep level, isn’t one of our basic fears a fear of insignificance? Douglas Adams sure thought so when he imagined the most perfect torture device,
The Total Perspective Vortex is allegedly the most horrible torture device to which a sentient being can be subjected. When you are put into the Vortex you are given just one momentary glimpse of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation, and somewhere in it a tiny little mark, a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot, which says, “You are here.” –Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The sheer futility of searching for universal significance or recognition is what I think to be one of humanity’s greatest fears and Green presents it so simply.
Of course, all make for wonderful discussion, discussion that is not limited to cancer patients. Even though the background is a story about cancer, the issues they face are universal issues on a shorter time frame. How scary is that? All around you, people have 70+ years to ponder on these life and universal issues, while you only have 20 or 30… maybe less.
Well, that’s a downer, but do not despair. There is plenty of humor:
My mom was really super into celebration maximization. IT’S ARBOR DAY! LET’S HUG TREES AND EAT CAKE! COLUMBUS BROUGHT SMALLPOX TO THE NATIVES; WE SHALL RECALL THE OCCASION WITH A PICNIC! p36
Caroline is no longer suffering from personhood. p56
What a slut time is. She screws everybody. p81
Like, I realize that this is irrational, but when they tell you that you have, say, a 20 percent chance of living five years, the math kicks in and you figure that’s one in five… so you look around and think, as any healthy person would: I gotta outlast four of these bastards. p14
Alright, so most of it is dry humor, but it is humor nonetheless.
Finally, I love the name of the book. If you read it, you will find out why it is titled The Fault in Our Stars. However, what made the title even more spectacular for me is that it falls into the same beautiful idea that is presented in Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. I will let you discover both for yourself.
This book touches a wide variety of emotions, love, loss, despair, friendship, adventure, heartbreak… you name it; it’s in there. Seriously, if you haven’t already read it, give it a try. I really hope the movie does it justice.
I’ll leave you with the following quote, which may actually sum up the entire book:
I told him that he was fearing something universal and inevitable, and how really, the problem is not suffering itself or oblivion itself but the depraved meaningless of these things, the absolutely inhuman nihilism of suffering. p190
I guess it depends on your point of view.
Reviewed by Christina
June 18, 2014