Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Fault in our Stars


"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves /That we are underlings." -Julius Caeser

I finally caught up to the rest of the world (including my daughter who officially regarded the book as her favorite last year), and read The Fault in our Stars. Okay, John Green. I can't decide if I love you or hate you for being such a talented author. Well, I'm no hater. So, there you go.

Unless you live inside a rock (or are forced to play XBox in a sealed and locked basement), you're probably somewhat familiar with the story of Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters. (Feel free to google the IMBD trailer, like the millions of others that have, including myself.) If you don't want to do that, here's the gist: two kids with cancer meet and fall in love. So, why read this book with such a grim prognosis? Who wants to read a story that's sure to evoke sadness and tears? (I remember having similar thoughts about The Hunger Games, not wanting to read about kids killing each other.) Well. All I can say that if you like clever dialogue with engaging characters, you might side with Alex and regard this as one of your favorite books as well.

As a writer, I dug into this book, studying it like a piece of art. Throw out all your preconceived ideas about YA fiction. John Green cannily nails the teenage voice of Hazel. (Who is this super-author?) The dialogue surprises and delights, without becoming overly sentimental–which could happen so easily given the subject matter. He seems to understand the hearts of the youth, making the subject matter NOT about the cancer, but about the kids and their ability to deal with their shitty cards dealt. One of my favorite parts is how Hazel and Gus linger on the phone, transforming the words "Ok" into some of the meatiest pieces of subtext in the novel.

Warning: You will cry and most likely sob. It's unavoidable. John Green is simply too crafty–Hazel and Gus will become real to you. When I finished the last sentence, I was torn about the idea that the book has been made into a movie. However, when I learned that Mr. Green was intricately involved (often crying on the set himself), I shifted my perspective. If JG blesses the film adaptation, I imagine it's pretty good. And with the faces and talent of these actors, I tend to think this story about living life to the fullest no matter what age you are, will be one of the brightest messages of hope we've heard in a long time.