Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind."
I recently picked this book up after seeing tons of Tweets and blog posts telling me (or, you know, just people in general) that I "HAD TO READ THIS BOOK BECAUSE IT IS QUITE LITERALLY THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD- ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW WHAT? SCREW SLICED BREAD, IT'S EVEN BETTER THAN THAT!" But after reading it, I must admit, that I am a bit disappointed.
I think that my largest complaint about this book was the characters- I understand that Hazel and Augustus have had to mature quicker than their peers because of their circumstances- but seriously? I would consider myself to be a somewhat educated person and I had no idea what they were saying half of the time (admittedly, I did pull out a dictionary here and there and I did reread entire portions of the book multiple times to have a better comprehension of what was going on). At time while listening to their speeches I felt like I was sitting in one of my lectures with one of my pretentious forty + year old (NOTE: not 16 year old) professors droning on and on about something inconsequential that they think is profound.
Also, I really, really, really wanted to cry while reading this book and I didn't (which let me tell you, isn't all that difficult of a task because I cry like it's nobody's business- that Tim Horton's commercial where the Haitian man welcomes his family to Canada? I cried. That Tropicana orange juice commercial where the company provided Alaska with a fake sun during their 24-hour nighttime? I bawled like a baby. And don't get me started on when a family member- especially children- visit competitors on shows like "Survivor"- I am an absolute puddle and it takes me forever to compose myself). I think that why I didn't cry is because I just knew that someone was going to die (I mean, it is a "cancer" book)- perhaps had the synopsis been more mysterious (like the synopsis of "Little Bee" by Chris Cleave:
"We don't want to tell you too much about this book. It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this: It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific. The story starts there, but the book doesn't. And it's what happens afterward that is most important. Once you have read it, you'll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.")what occurred it in would have taken me more by surprise (I would have been less prepared for what was going to happen) and as a result, tears would have trickled down my face, as I had so wanted them to?
That being said, I did love the parts of the book when Augustus and Hazel dropped the facade and just let themselves be teenagers- I just found these parts to be genuine and something that I could truly connect to and understand. This part especially:
"He's not that smart," I said to Julie.
"She's right. It's just that most really good-looking people are stupid, so I exceed expectations."
"Right, it's primarily his hotness," I said.
"It can be sort of blinding," he said.
"It actually did blind our friend Isaac," I said.
"Terrible tragedy, that. But can I help my own deadly beauty?"
"It is my burden, this beautiful face."
"Not to mention your body."
"Seriously, don't get me started on my hot bod. You don't want to see me naked, Dave. Seeing me naked actually took Hazel Grace's breath away," he said, nodding toward the oxygen tank.' (pg. 251).
All in all, I wish that this book was more accessible and more suited for the targeted audience- my younger sister (who fits smack-center into the targeted audience) is a HUGE fan of Lurlene McDaniel and her cancers books and I would love to have her read this book, but I know that she, too, would have difficulties trudging through it and that the large majority of it would go over her head (which I don't mean in any offense to her). In all honesty, I am on the fence about whether or not I will pick up another John Green book after having read this.
Memorable lines from the book:
"I used my wish pre-Miracle."
"What'd you do?"
I sighed loudly. "I was thirteen," I said.
"Not Disney," he said.
I said nothing.
"You did not go to Disney World."
I said nothing.
"Hazel GRACE!" he shouted. "You did not use your one dying Wish to go to Disney World with your parents,"
"Also Epcot Center," I mumbled.
"Oh, my God," Augustus said. "I can't believe I have a crush on a girl with such cliche wishes" (pg. 80).
"Really," my dad said. "I wouldn't bullshit you about this. If you were more trouble than you're worth, we'd just toss you out on the street."
"We're not sentimental people," Mom added, deadpan. "We'd leave you at an orphanage with a note pinned to your pajamas" (pg. 103).
"It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you" (pg. 176).
"Honesty, it as probably the long time we'd ever spent without talking" (pg. 208).
"Don't swear in the Literal Heart of Jesus" (pg. 259).