The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Penguin Books)
One of my current favourite songs is a song called All this and Heaven too, by Florence and the Machine.
In this tune, Florence Welch sings about how the language of the heart is hard to translate. She croons about it speaking in whispers and sighs, and prayers and proclamations. She acknowledges its eloquent beauty and its indescribable splendour.
And while the words of her song and its melody is nothing short of exquisite, it's the part about how she, for all of her education, can't seem to find the proper words to commend or command it, that resonates very deeply within me.
Regardless of how hard she tries to capture it in poetry, she can't because she's been "scrawling forever" and would give "All this and Heaven" to understand it.
For me,this is the essence of just why this song is a conduit that describes my every thought and feeling about John Green's The Fault in Our Stars.
Not because I don't understand it, but because I'd give everything to be able to give this book the praise it deserves without me fumbling over the words.
I want to paint this book in stars and write it a Shakespearean love letter.
I want to seduce you into buying it without you feeling liked you've been conned or connived into it.
I want to find a way to immortalise this book and give it even bigger wings to fly than it already has been flying.
Most of all, I want you to experience this profoundly tragic, funny, beautiful and heart-wrenching read and I want you, like me, to feel ALL the things, think ALL the thoughts and contemplate life in all of its raw, chaotic and unflinching beauty.
I'm not sure if I have it in me to paint this review in such incandescence, but I am going to try.
Most of you know that I'm not a huge fan of books that fall victim to the hype monster. Past experience has often taught me that these must-reads , for the most part, tend to be commercial fodder that offers nothing new in terms of characters, plot and substance.
So you can only imagine my reluctance when everyone around me started raving about John Green's The Fault in the Stars. Having said that, I did like the premise of the story, so did end up putting it on my list of books to read.
When a number of bookish blogger friends I trust implicitly started raving about the book, I finally began thinking that there may be something here I'm missing out on.
So, when I finally picked the book up and sat down to read it, my feelings went on a journey that took me from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, all the while feeling every single thing in between.
The Fault in Our Stars is a gobsmackingly magnificent read.
It's luminescent in its beauty and ugly in its truth. It takes a good, hard and long look at the effects of Cancer on the dying and rips you apart beautifully, terribly and tragically.
If I could sum up the way this book made me feel in a paragraph and address it to John Green, this is what I would say:
There's no way to stop the faucet of tears that's just been unleashed. I don't think there'll ever be a tourniquet effective enough to stop my heart and soul from bleeding all the world's heartache in your book that is filled with aching tragedy.
Please don't ever stop writing books that make me feel."
Such is the power of this book of his.
It's not just about his writing, which by the way, is nothing short of genius (and which I'll elaborate more on later), but it's about the plot, the characters and the stripped-bare, uncensored look at sickness, death and the Cancer-stricken victims fighting it in all of its battle stages.
Hazel is a 16-year old teen who has stage four Thyroid Cancer. Due to a specific medical type of treatment that has somehow managed to shrink the mini tumours living inside of her, Hazel, although still terminally ill, has been granted a few extra years to live.
The brave, young girl is only too aware that she's dying and so she spends most of her time reading, watching TV and just being around her parents (After all, she doesn't want to be the grenade that mortally wounds the ones she allows close to her, by dying).
What Hazel doesn't realise, is that life has other plans in store for her. Plans in the form of a hunky, one-legged boy named Augustus Waters (a boy who himself is a survivor of Osteosarcoma - bone cancer).
When she meets him at the weekly Cancer Kid Support Group she attends, her life takes on a whole different dimension and suddenly Hazel has to learn that falling in love is not only inevitable, but unavoidable. And no terminal illness can ever prevent that.
I am convinced that this is the most beautiful book of 2012, if not ever.
I haven't had a book affect me this much since I've read Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma and The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.
John Green is just such a phenomenal writer.
The thoughts he expresses, the sentiments that are gleaned can be summoned up in a quote from the book itself: "My thoughts are stars I can't fathom into constellations."
It not only speak of the intelligence of this book, but it speaks of the larger than life characters that crawled deeply into my heart, giving me no other option but to love them.
A friend's review stated that she's seen many people criticise the voices of the teens because they're so much older than teens should be, but I completely disagree with this sentiment.
Impending death has a way of aging you and because these two teens are so gravely ill, their maturity, their intelligence and their ability to appreciate and marvel about everything that's around them because they know that their infinities are less than others , only serves to make you fall more deeply in love with them and their story.
Hazel is an incredible protagonist. She's smart, funny, sardonic, accepting without being defeatist and incredibly clever.
She tries so hard to protect the ones she allows around her that it hurts to see how she views herself at times. Augustus couldn't be more right when he says the following to her: "You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are."
And by this token, it's exactly why I love this boy. He's not just a hot boy, he's a boy that sees so much more than a sick girl who breathes through an oxygen tank. Despite how heartbreaking his own story is, the strength of his love for her, and the lengths he goes to make her dreams come true, make him more than just a funny and sexy boy fighting his own battle.
I wish I could map out the profoundness of the novel in its entirety and tell you more about the unexpected twists and turns of this novel, but my flimsy attempt at expressing my feelings is nothing but a black hole in comparison to the sheer and magnetic force of John Green's writing.
If there's one book you still need to read this year, make it this one.
It will change you more than you could ever begin to imagine.
Read more reviews on my book blog.
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