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Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now. 

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. 

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind

When one reads as often as I do, it is inevitable that they will come upon a book such as this, one that they cannot simply say "I loved it!" to and dismiss it as just another loved book because it is worth so, so much more than that and you can never truly explain that.

So I will tell you the story of me as I read.

At first, I read in my bed.  I was excited--because, after all, was this not The Fault in Our Stars? The book I had wanted for months on end, the first book solely by John Green in three years? But I was nervous, too--so nervous that it would not live up to the brilliant expectations I held, that it would be great but wouldn't quite meet what I expected of it, what I needed this to be.  At this point, I was unsure whether or not I wished to read a bit tonight and finish tomorrow.

Around 11-something, I took a brief break to check the computer.  I don't recall exactly when I decided that I would stay up however late it took to finish this, but the important part is that I did.  I picked up the book, trundled downstairs, curled beneath the couch's covers, and I read.

I laughed.  I laughed a lot.  For the first half or so, that was the only real visible reaction, a laugh, a high-pitched, grating sort of giggle that could've come from a five-year-old. Whether the sound was due to my lack of sleep or I simply have an incredibly annoying laugh, I cannot say.

And then it happened.  It.  And I was sobbing, but there were no tears, just these dry, hiccuping sobs, as obnoxiously high-pitched as my laughs, but so much more constant.  Every time I thought I had recovered, at least temporarily, I would read something, and they would come again.  And if anyone besides my dog had been in my company, I fear they would've been concerned for my sanity.

At one point, and I can't quite say when, they became wet sobs, until the pillows were soaked and the pages spotted.  Like at first some part of me had held back, reluctant to leave a blemish on any part of this book, but now my tear ducts just didn't give a fuck anymore.

And sometimes I laughed.  Sometimes I laughed that high, grating laugh, and I was laughing and sobbing and reading and pressing my eyes shut every few pages because I needed it, because I needed to remind myself that the world would not end when this book did.

I did not leave the couch until I closed the final page.

Now . . . I look somewhat dead. Expressionless.  I'm a rather frightening picture at the moment, with my huge puff of hair, pink, creased face, stony eyes, mouth that refuses to move, cheeks still not entirely dry.  I think I may still be like this in the morning after a three hour sleep, and no one will understand, and no one will until they have stayed up till three in the morning reading The Fault in Our Stars.

I have never before cried over a book as much as I did tonight.

6 comments:

Jason

I'm really glad that I came across your review/retelling of your experience reading "The Fault in Our Stars" because not only do I share every single sentiment, but also because I feel like I needed to hear/read my feelings from someone else. Like I couldn't understand how I felt until I read this and it all became so clear. I'm commencing my second read through, and though I know what happens, I feel as if, unlike other novels, it won't be any easier and I'll still cry and still laugh because that's what great things do for us. Anyways. Lovely review.

Michelle

I honestly think John Green has beaten my cry count when it comes to how often I start bawling while reading a book.

And I think the best (& worst, given all the crying and the crying headache I got afterwards :P) part of it is, if I hadn't sobbed my eyes out, if the book didn't make me feel THAT strongly about the characters and what happened to them, the book wouldn't be getting the praise and high ratings that it is. Because it would've been a cop out to have the story end the way my happily-ever-after heart wanted it to, even though I knew I would've hated a cop-out ending in the long run.

Just so freaking brilliant.

Gwen Cole

I just got my copy today but I probably won't be able to start until tomorrow >_> I have to pack because we're moving. Yay for moving, but boo for reading time. -___-

Lexie

Jason: I know exactly what you mean. I completely understand why John did not want the book spoiled, because the first read would not have been the same, but I think when I read this again I will begin it knowing exactly what happens and I will still be a sobbing wreck at the end. It's John Green's magic.

Michelle: I know. I KNOW. Like there's this part of me that wants them to have their happy ending so bad and for everything to be bunnies and rainbows and sunshine, but the fact is, no one would be able to take that seriously. The thing that is so brilliant about TFiOS is that it is so painfully REALISTIC and a happy ending just would not fit that.

Gwen: Just whenever you read it, make sure it's at a time when you can read it in one sitting. And you're alone.

Stephanie Kimball

My thoughts exactly. Stayed up last night to finish it. This morning, I am thinking - how can I write a review of this book and effectively convey how much it moved me? It was hilarious, it was devastating. I just am amazed by it.

Michelle

This book is brilliant. Period. I was actually surprised that I didn't cry, considering the topic that John Green handled (excellently) in this book. This book is one of my favorites, and it blew me away.

I think that the reason I didn't cry was because it was just too emotional. I guess when things get too emotional, all you can do is stare at the pages and ponder in amazement at how an author could possibly be so good at writing that they can actually control your emotions like a mastermind. That's how great this book was. I had to get myself a copy of my own. Thanks for the review.

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