(Review originally posted on my livejournal account: http://intoyourlungs.livejournal.com/34203.html)Why I Read It:
Because it's John Green. In 2009, I read and fell in love with Looking For Alaska and since then have read everything that Green has ever published. It's not even just that I love Green's work, but, much like the rest of his fanbase, I'm very enamored with the author himself. He's extremely dedicated to his fans and equally interactive with them. Also, his youtube videos with his brother Hank are hilarious (search "Nerdfighters" on youtube to see what I mean.) It also didn't hurt that reviewers far and wide were hailing this as Green's best novel yet (but I would have purchased and read it regardless. ;) )
So I've been trying to think of what to write for this review that hasn't already been said. This book has been reviewed everywhere it feels like, and with good reason: John Green is an incredibly well-known author and this is a VERY good book. But screw it, I'm just going to talk about the points that have been mentioned everywhere and talk about why they're so true.
So here's one point that's been mentioned ad nauseum in the many reviews I've already read: this book will make you laugh as well as make you cry. This is so very very true. Hazel is incredibly sardonic, but she is FUNNY, even when she's making cancer jokes. Augustus is equally funny and pumps out the cancer jokes as fast as Hazel, making the two of them paired together SUPER funny. So yes, there's all this Funny, but there is also a lot of Sad. This being a book about teenagers with cancer, it's not surprising that a Sad Thing happens, and no, I will not spoil said Sad Thing, but let me tell you... it is sad. What I found surprising about this is that I predicted very early on what this Thing would be, so when it actually happens, I wasn't SURPRISED, but I still found myself crying about it. You would think that it feeling somewhat predictable would prevent me from having such an emotional reaction, but I became so attached to Hazel and Augustus that the Sad revelation still felt like a punch to the stomach.
Another point that's been mentioned over and over again is how this novel does indeed fairly the John Green Formula: we have ridiculously precocious teenagers who constantly have Deep And Meaningful Conversations fall in love (though the romance aspect IS different than the typical Green novel -- his protagonists tend to pine after people who are largely unattainable -- this is definitely not the case here), and they go on a journey and there's a lot of self-discovery. BUT, it does have a female protagonist, a first for Green, and he really pulled off Hazel's voice. So yeah, it mostly followed the typical John Green formula, but I didn't care because it was SO GOOD.
Third point that's been mentioned ad nauseum in reviews: "This is a book about teens with cancer without being a book about cancer." Also true. Yes, Hazel and Augustus have cancer and this obviously affects many aspects of their life, but this never devolves into an "issue" book. Hazel's already come to terms with the fact that she's going to die young, so there's much more of a focus on how she wants to live her life NOW. There's also very little angsting, despite the incredibly crappy situation she's in. Also, the above mentioned cancer jokes help keep this from being a "cancer book". I'm not articulating myself very well, but what I'm trying to say is that it's much more Hazel and Augustus's story than it being a story about their fight against cancer.Final Judgment:
Final point that's been said ad nauseum in other reviews: this is John Green's best work yet. And again, I completely agree. From the characters (who are totally lovable despite being so damn precocious for their ages), to the writing, (which is beautiful and has some of the best passages/lines I've read in a long time), to the handling of the subject matter (kids with cancer *without* being an "issue book"), to the balance of humour and sadness makes for one heck of a book. The hype around this book is completely justified, and I urge anyone and everyone to pick it up.