Cannonball Read IV: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
God DAMMIT, book.
I don’t really think there’s any other way to properly express my feelings for this book, at least none so cathartic, than swearing as loud as I possibly can. And on the internet, that means USING AS MUCH ALL CAPS AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. And look, I was raised Catholic and my mother taught me that the ‘F’ word was ‘Fart,’ so naturally I grew up to fucking love swearing and shit, but I have never been able to bring “goddammit” into regular usage. It is the swear for extra special occasions, because it makes me feel like I’m stomping on my own soul with a dirty boot whilst giving God the finger. But I think, in this instance, God would understand. In fact, I think God might even agree me on this point, because fuck you, John Green. Fuck you for making me feel all of these fucking feelings.
Okay, so you know those awful cancer books you read when you were a kid? Most of them were by that asshole Lurlene McDaniel — and seriously, what was that lady’s problem? — I WILL WRITE ABOUT ALL OF THESE KIDS DYING AND IT WILL BE AWFUL AND I WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO KILL YOURSELF, TOO. (That was Lurlene McDaniel as a robot.) Most of the books had covers of sad kids hugging teddy bears and shit, and, spoiler alert, ALL OF THEM DIED. Look, I was like nine years old. I liked Barbies and The Lion King and my favorite books were about slug aliens trying to take over the world. But every time I saw that stupid book on my shelf my chicken-sized body was filled with inexplicable rage. Of course, I recognize this feeling now and can call it by its proper name, which is wanting to shove a rusty nail through your eyeball rather than look at that thing anymore, because I am much more familiar with hyperbole now (and violence).
So all of that is to say that The Fault in Our Stars is NOT a Cancer Book. It is a book with cancer in it, but it has these other things called “characters” and “plot” and “themes,” and none of it is forced or self-indulgent or shoot-me-in-the-face-Jodi Picoult/Nicholas Sparks (the adult versions of Lurlene McDaniel). In fact, I wouldn’t have even gotten near the book if I didn’t think so highly of its author (I highly recommend subscribing to the Vlogbrothers channel on YouTube, incidentally … so many of you are Nerdfighters and you don’t even know it). John Green — judging by his online persona at least — is a very smart, kind, creative human being who talks very fast, and writes very clever, and his latest book is a reflection of it.
I think we can all agree here that CANCER IS THE WORST, and that reading a book about two kids who have it falling in love with each other sounds like just about the most depressing thing one could possibly think of, and it is really super fucking sad (I’m not even going to try to lie to you, because bringing up cancer in a book is like introducing Chekhov’s gun: you know it’s going to go off somewhere, but you just don’t know when). But Green’s protagonist, Hazel (and her scrumptious one-legged paramour, Gus) are not romanticized, and they’re not to be pitied. They have strong, unique voices, which are more often than not, very, very funny. Like so many in these kinds of stories, Hazel and Gus don’t exist to die, they exist to … well, that would be spoiling it. My only advice to you upon reading this book is that when you pick it up, for God’s sakes, please make sure someone is there with you when you finish it, because when I finished, it was 1 AM in the fucking morning, and I was laughing and crying hysterically AT THE SAME TIME, and NO ONE WAS AWAKE TO GIVE ME A HUG OR PUNCH ME IN THE FACE. (Both of those things, by the way, are probably what I’m going to do to John Green if I ever meet him.)
But alas, I cannot hate him, because look at that face:
For more of narfna’s reviews, check out her reviews at Goodreads.
This review is part of Cannonball Read IV. Read all about it.
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