Welcome my friends to this book review. As I mentioned in my Reading entry, I bought a book just 1 week ago, and it took me a week to read it. Cover to cover. It’s also the only teen novel i’ve read, one of the few non Dahl fiction books that I have read (along with Private Peaceful and I, Partridge). So I suppose I should get into the review, and tell you why you may want to look at it. Please be warned though, this review does contain spoilers, and if you want to or are in the middle of reading this book, please be warned that I will give away key plot points.
The story revolves around Hazel Grace, a 16 year old girl who has Stage 4 Thyroid cancer, but continues to live due to an experimental drug called Phalanxifor (this drug isn’t real BTW). The main plot driving the story is her relationship with Augustus Waters, a slightly older boy with Osteosarcoma, which is supposedly in remission. The book goes through their relationship with each other, other people, and dealing with pain, suffering, upset, heartbreak and death.
In short, this book is very good, with interesting ideas on life, death, and dealing with such a horrible illness, I enjoy Hazel and Gus’ attitude to their respective illnesses, side effects of life and death included. The main plot is pretty standard, it’s your basic love story really, they meet, befriend each other, find out things about each other, have a romantic trip to Amsterdam, and everything goes downhill from that point on, but perks up at the very end after Augustus’ tragic death at his returning cancer, which had already taken his leg from him, and has come back to take the rest of him away.
The characters are the strongest point of this story, Augustus in particular is interesting, he has thoughts on life and death which would give me a run for my money, he is the one who ultimately dies from his illness near the end of the book, and to see his downfall from wisecracking, sidefaced grin, to the shadow of his former self upsets me as much as it did Hazel. John Green, the Writer and You Tuber who wrote this book, did his best to make us fall in love with the character, so when he does eventually die, we feel as heartbroken as Hazel.
My other favourite character is Isaac, Gus’ best friend, who lost his girlfriend due to cancer, but not in the way you’re thinking. Due to a rare cancer, he had his eye removed when a young boy, and had to have his other one removed, which caused his girlfriend to leave him, unable to deal with her disabled ex-boyfriend. I feel sympathy for him, losing two people close to him, which made me feel really bad for him. If Mr Green was to write another book, I’d love to hear a version of events from Isaac, more about his backstory, and his interactions with Gus, as well as other people. When he eggs his ex-girlfriend’s car, im glad he is able to take out his anger at her for abandoning him.
As for the others: Hazel I don’t like at first, but she eventually warms on me, im glad to see she doesn’t stay depressed for long, and ultimately comes to terms with her loss, I feel it fits the character well, she has cancer, and she knows that her time could be limited, and she knows her friends, with cancer, could die as well as her, she won’t stay in the dark hole of depression forever, though she will miss her boyfriend. Peter Van Houten, the writer of An Imperial Affliction, a book about another cancer ridden girl, is interesting. He lost his daughter to cancer, and wrote the book to create the girl he thought his daughter would be, and uses Alcohol to lessen his pain, when Augustus and Hazel meet him, he is taken aback by Hazel, and ultimately greets them with a nasty reception, looks as if his assistant’s plan to end his alcoholism and end his reclusiveness failed. Not quite, he does go to Americas for Augustus’ funeral, which shocked me, but he speaks to Hazel, who eventually gets him to quit his alcoholism. If he actually does it, that’s another thing. As for both sets of parents, it’s a good contrast of one family who have a child with cancer, and another who have a child who had cancer, but is healthy. I have nothing to really to say about the other characters in the book, they’re not noteworthy to me. Though Charlie annoyed me, greatly.
So, are there any negatives? Thinking about it, my only problem with the book was that I would have liked to have seen more Isaac in the story, to be fair he is only a supporting character, but I feel a lot more could have been done with him and Hazel, after Gus’s death. I’m not shipping them, as that would be a stupid move. I feel there’s more of a story to Isaac that could be explored in maybe another book (or fan fiction, there will be fan fiction) a sequel/prequel thing. Also, Hazel comes across as unlikeable to me on the first few pages, but I did eventually warm to her as the book progressed.
Overall, this 313 page, 25 chapter long story is worth a look, for someone who dislikes fiction, I got thought it, and enjoyed it. I probably enjoyed it more than I thought, I admired the realism to it, while it was still a series fictionalised events, it was close enough to real life that I enjoyed it more than I would other fictional books. I enjoyed it, and would advise you to read it if you haven’t read it already (assuming you haven’t and decided to read my review anyway, knowing that I would be spoiling main plot elements). Give her a read.
Big shout outs to John Green who wrote it, I will be reading s’more of your books once I have saved my money, and also to the Nerdfighters, a great community who are against ‘World suck’, they are a creative bunch, check ’em out!