Fault in Our Stars: Review/Discussion


The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars (Photo credit: TheNerdDilettante)

Let’s get the crying discussion out-of-the-way.
A book isn’t good because it made you cry. I understand that the significance of that is really ambiguous. But yes, I have been crying for the past few days, while reading this book, and I fully expect to cry for a few more days. And then, if the books does fall out of my consciousness I still will be crying because I’m stumbling over some personal battles. The crying is more about me then someone else’s story. But expressing this really human/mortal experience that triggers this emotional prolonged emotional response is why ‘crying’ is used as a way to say this book is really good. Because it is inflicting a pain that’s so human.

‘Cancer Book’ Discussion 
That pain isn’t cancer. I wouldn’t say that writing a sad cancer story is hard. Most creative content about cancer is sad but not all of it is as dynamic as Fault in Our Stars. The depth of this pain that the reader goes through is what makes this book intelligent. This depth exists for two reasons.
One: The writing of this book is phenomenal, on a contemporary masterpiece level. Yes, I know “Young Adult” and all but listen to me, long confusing prose isn’t what defines a literary masterpiece. A literary masterpiece is a book with a strong point of view, the MC Hazel Grace was engrained in every plot point, every description, every thought plop, and the plot itself was engrossing, and the relationships grew and shrunk and were divulged and shown in full complexity, and even the secondary characters were expressed with full dimensionality and growth and blabla, I could rant on and on from a writing POV on why this is a good book —
— but who gives a fuck about that.

Two: This book is a new favorite because of something way more emotional and potent then anything you can learn in a creative writing class.
I said that the pain isn’t cancer but that doesn’t mean I fully believe this isn’t a cancer book. I understand the metaphorical significance of cancer but disregarding the non-metaphorical, non-romantic, non-emotionally painful, actual concrete plot-driven experiences that Hazel Grace and her lover Augustus Water experiences is the kind of thing that would cause Hazel Grace to roll her eyes at you. Yeah, there is metaphorical weight to cancer but her pain came from a very real and physical place, as was many components of the plot, so I disagree with saying this book isn’t a cancer book. It is a cancer book. It also has headfuckery that goes beyond the physical consequences of a tumor.
The Personal Stuff
I think by now you understand my 5-star review thing. Cool. If you haven’t read it and just wanted a review then please leave now and go grab it from your library and commence on your own literary self-destruction and revel in it. If you have read it and feel like I do, vacant and alone in a world of vacant and alone bodies, and want to attempt to connect with someone then I’m about to divulge some parts that connected with me….
I know I love. I know I love my boyfriend, and parents, and friends, and art, and all the life in the future, even if it is going to hurt, and all the other lives around me, even if I’m shy, and even myself, even when I’m dark, and this book is the reminder that it is all going to pass. It isn’t the only reminder but I almost shut some of those morbid thoughts out of my head. And reading this book was like my first loved one’s funeral, that first realization, that everyone that I love will die. That I have three choices in the world: mourn a loved one, be mourned for, or die with that loved one. That’s the situation that scalps me.
But this book is far from nihilistic. We might all die and end up in a ditch and end up forgotten in the long-term but who cares about the long term. The mortal points of our life are filled with so much significance that it might as well be infinite because it would take an infinite quantity of time to recognize what all these emotions and experiences really are, really mean.
That’s what makes it worth it. We aren’t grenades ready to blow each other up. Pain is worth the moments alive with each other, the love that we share with each other, that pain is a byproduct of living, we can’t avoid it, so we might as well feel pain for those that are worth it, and that’s why we need to love. That’s why the romance in this book, from lover to love, to parent to lover, to friend to friend, is all so fucking real.
It is like this:
Dear my lovers:

I love you so much that I will mourn for you. I could mourn for someone else but you are worth it. You are worth the pain of mourning because living with you is a universe: subliminal, infinite, and filled with love.

Meta Analysis on Self-Destruction 

The Fault In Our Stars

The Fault In Our Stars (Photo credit: rachelkramerbussel.com)

Yes, this book can be optimistic, I sorta just said it was, right? But I still think this book was more a self-destructive choice for me than an enlightened rainbow-and-unicorn choice. This book is very. . real. It very much discusses the agonies of dying, death, and mourning. It also discusses the extreme power of love, that overpowers, even these extricating experiences. So, the optimism is: everything really really hurts but there are forces on this planet (i.e.:love) that’s worth all the pain. (That’s the kind of pessimism/optimism that I live for.)
Since I started this book I have had an extreme anxiety that someone I love will die. I have had particular people and ‘fantasies’ about those people in mind — I do have some emotional health disorders, so maybe this did trigger an attack, but I am experiencing something dark. This book did spark this inside of me. In a sense, this book is the grenade– this dark short piece that has engrossed me with pain — but I love it so deeply that it is worth it. So, it is accidentally? meta* in this fashion. This book gave me a pleasant and enjoyable relationship with a cast of characters that really feel ‘alive’ to me, plus, a concrete reminder of yes, mortality, but also that other people think like I do — that I’m not alone, that we are all on this planet dealing with this same subliminal experience.
*again the major plot point in this book in a fictional-book about cancer, so there is some intentional meta as well

Give it a whirl, girl.


Trigger Warning: Death / mortality

“I want to be a squirrel,” I whimpered, legs shaking, halfway down the brick road on 91st street.

The street is closed off from cars and is a favorite spot for people-watching, puppy-watching, squirrel-watching.  But, I couldn’t enjoy it now because I was flipping the shit over final week. This was my worst week in the worst semester of school that I ever had. My professors were not on my side this semester. I know their job isn’t to make it easy to succeed but most of the time I felt like they were punishing me for making it to my senior year.  I was trying harder then ever before but I did not reap the rewards of my hearty all-American work ethic– I wasn’t doing well at all.  But, anyway, I was on this brick road watching a ball of fuzz climb up a tree and I sighed hard enough to push a few tears out of. Fuck, it isn’t fair, why couldn’t I be born a squirrel.   The jealousy itching up my back made me feel like the critter was trying to crawl into my brain. He seemed so happy to find a nut. To succeed in that moment’s challenge. To be completely illiterate of the concept of time, watches, calendars, birthdays.

It just feels like my entire life has been filled with different complex-challenges that distribute the same reward: frequent and highly-pressured stepping-stones to a successful future.  But I haven’t been given much breathing room under the push and shove from one challenge to the next to even  organize  what success is and what kind of future I even want.

Of course, the other problem with being a future-forward human being is that I’m assuming I’m going to have a life to live in the first place. Not to get all Edgar Allen Poe on you but my life can end at any moment at all and if I died tomorrow I wouldn’t be fulfilled, I would be very frustrated that I spent so much time trying to prepare for a life that I didn’t even get to experience yet. I have seen it happen twice. Ten years ago my Aunt had a massive heart attack out of nowhere and passed. She was thirty-two. And last fall the same thing happened to my Uncle, he was forty-five.

So yes, right then, in that moment, carrying a posterboard the size of me, running up a brick road, trying to finish a project that was due in a couple of hours, that I was behind in  because I spent so much time doing other work, and feeling completely overwhelmed, the simplicity of a squirrel hunting nuts and looking so satisfied with themselves made me suspicious of what life would be if I truly took it day-by-day.