Popcultureboy’s #CBR5 Review #105: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

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Because reading one YA novel dealing with cancer this year simply wasn’t enough. I had to have more. And effing eff, am I glad I read this book. Of course, everyone else in the world already has read it, so you all know how bloody wonderful it is. But don’t let that stop you reading my full review. It’s on my blog here.

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Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 42: Paper Towns by John Green

Unknown-1I was on a roll of books that were amazing and great and I loved them. And then.

I really thought I would love Paper Towns. I had only read one John Green book before (yes, of course, The Fault in Our Stars), and had very high expectations for the rest of his stuff. But this book really rubbed me the wrong way.

I know, Margo Roth Spiegelman is the “manic pixie dreamgirl” type that boys — like Quentin — can’t help but love from afar. But I saw nothing even remotely likable or enjoyable about Margo, and frankly, was annoyed that the entire book was about finding her when I never once felt that she wanted or should be found. Ugh.

What I did want was for someone — Margo’s parents, the detective, Quentin’s parents — to get Margo some professional help. Clearly the girl had some major problems. Quentin’s parents were psychologists and did nothing, said nothing. This drove me crazy.

I didn’t like Margo one bit and wish they had simply looked through her records, found Mermaid Avenue, listened to it, and said, Hey, This is Really Good. The End.

What I did like was the world of Quentin’s friends. I loved Radar and Ben, and even Lacey later on. I loved the real high school world described by Green — from band geeks to popular kids — and the realization at the end of senior year that nothing from the past 4 years matters anymore.

But I despised Margo and found her to be selfish and manipulative. And Quentin’s obsession with her made me dislike him, as well. Sorry.

And I couldn’t help but wonder what my own parents would have said or done if I had decided to skip out on my high school graduation to drive thousands of miles across the country to find my crazy neighbor. I’m pretty sure they would have said NO.

Enough with my complaining. I didn’t like the book because I couldn’t stand the characters. The End.

You can read more of my reviews on my blog.

Travis_J_Smith’s #CBR5 Review #45: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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Manipulative much? Without delving too far into spoilery details, The Fault in Our Stars is the sort of book you sense was written expressly to make its readers cry themselves dry. I liken it to a fictional Dear Zachary. After a while, you start to expect the worst, and somehow what you get is worse still. Except Dear Zachary didn’t feel as emotionally manipulative. People have called it just that, but I think it’s ridiculous to suggest such a thing, given the subject matter and the personal nature of the documentary. Whereas with The Fault in Our Stars, I don’t think it’s too off base a thing to say.

Cancer fucks things up on the regular, yes. It shows no regard for human emotion. Look no further than Dave Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which I reviewed earlier in the year. Placed alongside that, The Fault in Our Stars seems almost kind, sparing its readers that level of rawness. The important difference to keep in mind is that one is a (so-called) memoir and the other is a work of fiction. And I don’t know about you, but I see fiction as a form of escape from reality; what I don’t want is a harsh reminder of how unfair it really is. If I wanted that, I would look to the news or something else in that same vein.

Because, when an author tries to replicate real life, he or she runs the risk of it feeling faker than it would if he or she didn’t try quite so hard. Why? One reason is it draws attention to itself. Another is that truth is, as the saying goes, stranger than fiction, meaning a story could be based entirely in truth and people would still have a hard time buying into it unless you stress that it actually happened. Look at the IMDb message boards for any number of movies based on true stories; those movies are never 100% accurate, but even the details they don’t alter or embellish are called into question by dozens upon dozens of people unaware of where they were taken from.

If the story’s entirely fictional, the disbelief only grows louder. No matter how heavily researched it is, people will pick it apart until it’s no longer recognizable, and so any perceived problems will be magnified many times over. For example, I don’t doubt that The Fault in Our Stars was written based upon careful observation, but I worry Green was too careful, too faithful, the end result coming across to me as manufactured.

Even as he goes out of his way to make self-aware commentary on the cancer “genre” itself in an attempt to distance himself from it, to keep us from drawing the comparisons by drawing them for us before we have the chance, I couldn’t help but lump the book in among every other cancer-related melodrama I’ve come across. I could feel my buttons being pushed very purposefully and I didn’t like it.

That all being said, I think part of why I took issue with certain decisions of Green’s is that I liked these characters too much. It’s not that I wanted a happy ending, per se. I just didn’t want each character to be, as Hazel would put it, a “grenade.” I knew, given the genre, that damage would be done to the characters, as well as the readers, but I wish he would’ve thought like Hazel and tried to “minimize the casualties.” That’s all.

 

Travis Smith’s blog, containing this review, as well as others, photography, and more, can be found here.

Even Stevens’s #CBR5 review #7: The Fault in our Stars by John Green

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Some infinities are bigger than others.

That line right there sums up everything I love about this book.  It’s simple and beautiful  and heartbreaking, just like this book.

We open with Hazel, our 16-year-old narrator, attending a cancer support group, one in which she will ultimately meet Augustus Waters, a 17-year-old cancer survivor with a prosthetic leg.  What follows is the story of their friendship and more, how they each handle their disease and those around them living with it.  Like I said, simple setup, but the beauty is in Green’s writing.  There is no glamorization of the heroics of the cancer victims, no perfect, endlessly patient near-saints who fight without complaint (this is among many of the cancer stereotypes mocked by the characters in the book).  No, Green writes about the reality of cancer: it’s painful and messy and cancer is selfish and destructive and in order for it to thrive, its host cannot.  In short, cancer is a real dick.  That’s the beauty here too though, that there is humor mixed with the pain, and even though several of the characters have cancer, there’s so much more to their personalities and lives than the disease inside them.

Now, of course, this is a book about teenagers with cancer. I actually held off on reading it for so long because I knew I was going to cry and I hate going into something knowing that. I made it about ¾ of the way through this book pleasantly surprised at how humorous and heartwarming it was and I thought for a minute that I could escape without shedding tears. Oh, Erin, you ignorant slut.  I stress again: this is a book about teenagers with cancer. You bet your ass there was crying.  I grew to love these characters in a short span of time, and that only made the ending more gut wrenching.  I want to warn you about this so you know what you’re getting yourself into, but (BUT), you should also know: totally worth it. If you have ever read The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak then you know exactly what I mean. This book was powerful, hilarious, poignant, and uncomfortable but it was one of the best books I have ever read. I recommend it to everyone, just keep your tissues handy.

Also, when searching for the book cover for this post, I found this art inspired by the  book and it is absolutely gorgeous:

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