Monday, April 16, 2012

CBR IV: Read Free or Cannonball Hard, Entry 2: "The Fault In Our Stars" by John Green

Every time I read something John Green has written, I marvel at his ability to make me feel like the characters involved are not only real, but that they are actually falling in love.  There's just something about his prose that makes you feel like you're even falling in love yourself.  In "An Abundance of Katherines", the love story angle comes in late in the game but still manages to click with the reader as if it had been introduced on Page 1.  In "A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle", the romance was a slow burn to an obvious, yet still fantastically lovely reveal.  "The Fault In Our Stars" shows John Green making us fall in love yet again, but setting us up for an even greater heartache than that of a lover leaving us by choice...a lover who leaves through death.

Hazel and Augustus meet in a support group for teenage cancer patients.  Like some great love stories before this one, it all started with a memory...Hazel reminds Augustus of his late ex-girlfriend, who much like himself had a terminal illness.  Through their mutual friend, Issac, the two meet-cute and begin a fast developing romance that culminates in a trip to Amsterdam to stalk a famous American author into divulging secrets of the unwritten history to his own major novel's protagonists.  Through their time together and the adventures they share their love only grows, even though there's a silent clock ticking down the unknown minutes and seconds left in their lives.  Indeed one of our lovers will pass before the end of the book, taking the lightly comedic and romantic plot (only tinged with sadness) into a full blown tragedy.

Green works his magic yet again, taking something that sounds like Nicholas Sparks for the Tween/Teen reader set and turning it into something with more depth and weight.  We know from the start that our leads are sick and that time is running out.  Our leads even know it.  The story isn't focused on "who dies and how", it focuses on how they live in each other's company.  How they choose to carry on in the face of impending death is the feat that is focused on, because knowing the odds and the scenario all to well these characters know that there's slim to no hope of survival.  By the third act, I was absolutely in tears; the last thirty pages or so being a culmination of so much symbolism and ground work built in the first two acts.  Yet again, John Green manages to make the reader fall in love and then manages to gut punch them with the sadness of reality.  When you build your characters and scenario well enough, such as Mr. Green has in this novel, an ending such as this is not a cheap grab at's telling the emotional truth of the moment.  I look forward to finishing his existing canon, at which point I shall eagerly await his next work of fiction.

Next Up: "The Hunger Games Trilogy" (The Hunger Games/Catching Fire/Mockingjay) by Suzanne Collins

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