So, my signed copy of Green's novel arrived on its release date and it has dutifully sat on my bedside table, begging to be read. But alas, I lacked the time.
I even had a student who came in to talk to me about the book, but I had to tell her I hadn't read it yet; like a failure.
*Points skyward.* To the audio book I went (the Kate Rudd version, not the John Green...sorry, Kate's recording was cheaper)!
Appetizer: Hazel Grace Lancaster is living with cancer. Worried that she's depressed, her mom makes Hazel regularly attend a support group. At one meeting, Hazel meets Augustus, a cancer survivor who is there to support his friend Isaac who is having surgery soon. Augustus and Hazel trade book recommendations that leads to a quest to know what happens to the characters in Hazel's favorite book. Along with their quest, romantic tensions arise, but with Hazel's terminal diagnosis and Augustus's regular scans to check for more cancer, their future together is uncertain.
So, I loved The Fault in Our Stars. The audiobook was wonderful. The way Kate Rudd brought Augustus's voice to life was great. This was one of those audiobooks that I didn't want to stop listening to even after there was nothing I could think of to do while listening. (I actually dusted my apartment so I could keep listening!)
Green does a good job of sharing about a realistic romance (which I imagine was one of his many goals with writing this book). He specifically critiques paranormal romances and "cancer books." Here's one example:
"AIA is about this girl named Anna (who narrates the story) and er one-eyed mom, who is a professional gardener obsessed with tulips, and they have a normal lower-middle-class life in a central California town until Anna gets this rare blood cancer.
But it's not a cancer book, because cancer books suck. Like, in cancer books, the cancer person starts a charity that raises money to fight cancer, right? And this commitment to charity reminds the cancer person of the essential goodness of humanity and makes him/her feel loved and encouraged because s/he will leave a cancer-curing legacy. But in AIA, Anna decides that being a person with cancer who starts a cancer charity is a bit narcissistic, so she starts a charity called The Anna Foundation for People with Cancer Who Want to Cure Cholera." (pp. 48-49)Yay!
I absolutely loved Hazel's friend Kaitlyn, who is described as a girl "who just happened to be an extremely sophisticated twenty-five-year-old British socialite stuck inside a sixteen-year-old body in Indianapolis. Everyone accepted it" (p. 42). I've been friends with a Kaitlyn sort of girl. They're fun.
When I teach, I tend to use Looking for Alaska, but I think in the future, I may switch to using The Fault in Our Stars.
"Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.
Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying. (Cancer is also a side effect of dying. Almost everything is, really.)" (p. 3)
"'What?' I asked.
"Nothing," [Augustus] said.
"Why are you looking at me like that?"
Augustus half smiled. "Because you're beautiful. I enjoy looking at beautiful people, and I decided a while ago not to deny myself the simpler pleasures of existence." A brief awkward silence ensued. Augustus plowed through: "I mean, particularly given that, as you so deliciously pointed out, all of this will end in oblivion and everything." (p. 16)
"'I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and 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." (p. 153)
Tasty Rating: !!!!!