ariad: (btvs // go hand in hand)
Over the weekend, I started and finished reading The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, a novel with so many holds in every library (41 on the copy in my hometown) that I didn't even remember having placed it on hold myself when I was emailed by Berkeley Central. It was my first John Green book, and because I'd seen passages from his various books all over Tumblr, I knew it would be good.

I did not know that it would be so important.

The story is about Hazel Grace Lancaster, a sixteen-year-old girl with terminal thyroid cancer, whose parents, convinced that she is depressed because she spends most of her time thinking about death and rereading her favorite book (the fictional An Imperial Affliction, by the fictional Peter Van Houten), forces her to attend a support group. There, she meets and falls for Augustus Waters, who until recently had osteosarcoma. The book follows their relationship with each other and with Hazel's favorite book.

It is also the most existentialist book ever to use both third-person shooters and the movie 300 as metaphors for life.

The characters are charming beyond charming. Hazel is intellectual without being pretentious (well, maybe a bit), and Augustus is pretentious without being insufferable. Their eccentricities are amusing in the beginning and heartbreaking in the end because it becomes clearer, as the novel progresses, how much these eccentricities say about the characters, and nothing in a novel about a terminal cancer patient can last.

It's the type of book that makes you come away with a different outlook on life. There's nothing like terminally ill, intellectually curious, empathetic teenagers in a thematically tight and realistically grounded narrative to bring you to some realizations about the kind of life you want to live.

But mostly, it made me want to love a book the way Hazel loves An Imperial Affliction. I want to love a book so much and so deeply that it is both a part of me and something sacred, desperate both to be shared and to be kept a secret. I want to read it over and over and memorize it and breathe it in like Scripture. I want to pursue a greater understand of the book the way Hazel does hers, or the way Alexander did The Iliad. I feel like Susan Orlean when she wrote in The Orchid Thief that "I want to know what it feels like to care about something passionately." But as much as I love my favorite books, I've never come close to feeling so religious about them. I think the only writing I carry so deep inside of me is the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I wonder, though, how much of Hazel and Augustus' obsession has to do with AIA's lack of an ending. And given no ending, I am inclined to accept that as the ending. (See: Angel the television series.)

Anyway, [ profile] ipsius has begun reading TFIOS. I am hoping this will mean that when we go to Europe together next summer, I will be able to look out the window on the flight and say that "NOTHING HAS EVER LOOKED LIKE THAT EVER IN THE WHOLE OF HUMAN HISTORY," and she will understand my meaning.

Verdict: I really like it.


ariad: (Default)
fred fred

September 2016

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