This is not a book review. After all, how can you review something which – true or false – tells a magically spun tale of bravery, triumph and failure all at once. How can you speak of something which inverts your beliefs, reaffirms them and all the while makes you aware of the fact that happy endings are not always what you think they will be. And that the ending may not be what you want it to, but exactly what it should be.
I’m not really a crier. But ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ made me sob and lament (out loud). Continuously. ‘What is this world?!’ I literally sobbed through tightly clenched teeth. Who are these characters that you’ve made me love and then taken away from me?
I’m not really a let-me-think-about-this-all-night-er. But John Green’s novel made me think and re-think and question and stumble upon epiphanies.
Only John Green can make a book about two teenagers fighting cancer and falling in love not as depressing as that instantly sounds like it will be. Only John Green can make the book hopeful, and funny at the same time as slapping you around the head and screaming SHUT UP ABOUT YOUR FIRST WORLD PAINS because some people have it worse, but deal with it better.
“That awkward moment when you walk into the house and you find your girlfriend crying… because someone died… in a book” tweeted my boyfriend when he saw my mascara stained face. “in a book LOOOL a film you can understand but a book really now” – someone replied.
But it makes perfect sense to me. In a movie you are told what to think and how to feel and how to envision the characters. In a novel, they are (almost) as much your creation as they are the authors. They live in your head and share the same significances any of your friends or acquaintances do. That’s part of the reason I love reading so much. That’s part of the reason it’s so bitter-sweet when you’re thumbing the last page of the novel. You know their story is partly ending with you.
And it’s something he does magnificently well – John Green that is. He makes the characters so likeable that you have no choice but to instantly fall in love with them and feel their every emotion as if it were your own. The characters in one of his previous novels; ‘Looking for Alaska’ are the same. They are so relatable, and, for want of a better word – likeable that you find yourself mesmerized. Often so close to launching into a conversation or laughing along with a joke they told – that you have to look up from the book you’re holding in your hands and realise that they are trapped there, in the space between the pages, your eyelids, and your imagination.
But that’s off topic. One of the things I love the most about John Green is the words he chooses to express himself. Just like a beautiful voice or a beautifully painted – anything -… a piece of prose, a well placed word, a sentence that makes you re-think or simply re-affirms what you already believe… it’s art.
It’s life changing.
“I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it – or my observation of it – is temporary?”
That’s one of my favourite exerts from the novel. And in so much as it is directly contradicting my belief that “everything is temporary” – they can both exist in tangent.
This is not a book review. After all – how can you review something which touched you so deeply, without feeling at a loss for the words to do so. “My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.” – I just needed to write it down, to express the beauty in the words which made it so.
“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”