|'The Fault In Our Stars' by John Green- original image here (if you want to read the book, the author and vlogger, John Green, has done a reading that features on this page)|
A couple of evenings ago I finished Jane Eyre, and before continuing where I left off with Stringer's 'The Origin of Our Species' and going onto a book about an Ancient Greek war as prep for next year (and fun), I decided it was probably time that I read a 'light' read; by which I mean the books any sixteen year old girl probably should be reading. Therefore yesterday evening, I asked my Mum if I could look through her bookshelves, when she suggested I read 'The Fault In Our Stars', a Book Club book from a few months ago. Part of me was like 'Awww... Come on girl.... It's a book about cancer... Find something less cliche' and the other part was like 'Girl, it be very late, none of the books you chose are going to be life changing, just go with it'- and so I did.
You may have realised that I had a little bit of bias reading this book. For one thing, I find the whole 'teenager with cancer, fighting her disease, finds more to life than she thought, blah blah blah' over done and boring. I kind of just want to yell at all the authors that by churning out this cliche, they are suggesting that life is better with cancer, in which case I might just go a give my money to a different charity, which is both good and bad at the same time. On top of this, I had just spent my evening reading a brilliant article in Vogue, 'Single Minded' by Hadley Freeman, in which she discusses life as a thiry-something single woman, and how there is this expectation that she must have a boyfriend and how she is apparently not worth anything without one. Within the article she discusses how many books with a female protagonist are mainly about 'getting the guy' and that they are almost entirely relationship drive. At the time I just nodded, but didn't really take in the full scale of her truthfulness until I looked on my fairly comprehensive-book-shelf-for-a-teenage-girl and realised that I don't have any books (including classics and other intelligent books) that have a female protagonist and aren't relationship driven. So when I opened 'The Fault In Our Stars' I was actively looking out for cliches and relationship driven story lines, and at the same time desperately hoping they weren't there.
Now you have a fairly comprehensive back story to my reading of this book I can actually get on and review it. Essentially, as I may have already suggested, 'The Faults In Our Stars' is about a girl suffering from cancer. Her cancer is terminal and unlike the readers, the last thing she could possibly expect to do is fall in love and actually enjoy her life. Spoiler alert: she does. Quiet honestly, that is the story summed up rather well. Like most books about teenagers with terminal diseases.
Hold up- there was something different about this one... It was intelligent? The relationship was mutually independent? She had a pretty normal relationship with her parents (honestly- if teenage books reflected our lives accurately, you would think it was some great human feat to not argue with your parents every other chapter)? The twist in the plot was actually unexpected? This is a very well written book. Which is no surprise considering the awards Green has won and his rather good YouTube Channel that my brother introduced me to. It was also a quick read- 312 pages in less than 24 hours baby!
But yeah... It was entirely relationship driven. Essentially if she hadn't met this guy, then she wouldn't have been able to experience all of this great stuff and y'know enjoy life, because everyone knows no girl can smile until some hot guys wanders into life. Even when ACTUAL SPOILER SO I WILL JUST DO SOME DOTS AND SAY IT IN MY HEAD .......................... she still defines herself by him and he is needed to give her worth.
Ok- maybe I'm being a bit mean here, and if I was studying this book for my English GCSE, then I guess I would say Augustus (the love interest) is tool to represent how Maslow's hierarchy of needs (pictured below) is essentially wrong: despite not really having much of the second layer, she achieves everything else (via a guy. Seriously- explore the whole concept of 'best friends'. They can be pretty fun to). Suggesting that at the end day our relationships really are what keeps us going. Dang my low level analysis has just brought me back full circle.
To conclude, if you want a good read on a lazy summer afternoon, then I would recommend 'The Fault In Our Stars'- it is intelligent, deep and funny. However, I can't enjoy it, because I'm me. And I had just read an article of Vogue that by chance was about women and relationships in literature. And I don't really like books about cancer. So rather annoyingly I'm going to give this book Three Stars.
Ok. That's harsh. I'll give it Three and Half.
P.S. Something that I did find intriguing is how British all these characters sounded, although Green made it clear they were all American....That did, I admit, add slightly to my enjoyment... Hmmmm.....