Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The So Far Beyond Epically Beautiful The Fault in Our Stars

I'm still reeling. I don't even know...

I literally, literally sobbed through the last hundred pages. I have a crying headache. I'm still crying. I'm not even sure what to do now. How do you recover from this?

I have not previously read anything by John Green. He is my younger sister's favorite author and I promised her I would but I just hadn't gotten to it.

Well, I got to The Fault in Our Stars today. Oh, Hell did I get to it. I am a wreck. And as emotional as this book is and made me and made so many other people this post is going to be disappointing. I'm trying to collect my thoughts and struggling. (I would love to quote the book here but this feels like such an insignificant moment to do so).

I know it's been out a year but spoilers ahead!

I had heard amazing things about this book. I had heard that this book was going to make me cry. Even so I didn't really know what to expect. I mean, I knew the premise and had read and heard so many quotes from it but had stayed carefully away from any true spoilers. I decided I wanted to read it without any preemptive knowledge. I think my experience was all the better for that.

I fell in love with this book in exactly the way Hazel described. I had to stop half way through to go to work. I had already cried three times. And I loved the book already but wasn't in love with it. But then I was at work and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I kept telling everyone that I just wanted to go home and read. I was really antsy all night. It was more than my usual book desperation. It took me a little while to realize that I was worried about Hazel and Augustus. Like my getting home faster would somehow help them.

It was right about then when I had that realization that I started to realize how deep I was into this book. But again, even so, I was not prepared for the impact that it had. It was the horrible desire to wish so hard for the happy ending that you know you won't get. To keep reading, so heavily entrenched in what's happening and to want to drag your feet kicking and screaming because if you don't finish what you know is going to happen isn't going to happen.

It was perfect in all of it's heart-rending honesty and bluntness. It's grand gestures and small things. There isn't anything that I honestly wish that had gone differently (I mean aside from the impossible and had that happened I wouldn't have loved it so much). It's the kind of pain you would want to hold on to for a little while but you don't have a choice anyway because it lingers. It almost feels impossible that a book makes you feel this way.

I know I usually talk about the characters individually but this time I feel like I have to talk about them together. They're so perfectly suited to each other that I think that's what makes it so bittersweet. They are different and similar in all the ways that they need to be. They keep each other lively. They understand each other in a way that I feel is so rarely depicted in literature to this extent. They're the perfect combination of fanciful and practical that they're so real. It makes it even harder to read about what's happening. To watch that change in them, or most particularly Augustus.

But I think there's a despairing perfection in the shortness of their relationship. Hazel mentions toward the end that maybe a love like theirs couldn't last. And maybe it wouldn't have but it was so perfect when it was happening. They were with each other at the perfect moments in each others lives. Their timing was just right.

I read a review on Goodreads. I don't ordinarily do this but it was after I finished the book (in the middle of a paragraph here, actually) and I saw that they had only given it two stars. I was curious. The reviewer talked of their own experience with watching a young loved one fade away and how they didn't feel like John Green had any right to tell the story and that readers didn't have any right to pretty much enjoy it, but especially laugh at all. This struck me as horrendously unfair. I understand their response and part of me sees how they could feel that way but writing fiction is so often about experience that we've never had. And humor is so often a tool for coping that not including it is just unrealistic. And I never felt like, as a reader, that I was laughing at these characters. I was well and truly laughing with them. More marveling that, though fictional, they could still manage to be so lively. I don't ordinarily respond but this just struck a chord with me.

I think I've probably rambled quite enough. It's just I don't think that I can manage my usual step-by-step review because something about this book makes it so it must be considered as a whole. Everything is so connected that I have a hard time breaking it down into pieces to talk about.

I will say this though, it occurred to me at one point (while I was at work considering what I had ready so far) that there's something in the poeticness of the writing that reminded me of Maggie Stiefvater. I don't know what that's worth but there it is.

My horrendously obvious rating for The Fault in Our Stars is: Beyond Epic.

What do you ducks think? I know I'm late to the game but still...?

I was going to jump in and read Looking For Alaska next but I think I need something that is less likely to roll my heart through broken glass. I think I'll grab Jennifer Armentrout's Opal. It can't be this bad....can it?


P.S. There is no way a movie can do this book justice. And I am now extra appalled and offended that they said the movie would be better.

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