Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Boredom in Our Stars

Ok. Well. Um. Let's see, here.

I read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and I was like

(That's an unfinished sentence...get it, get it?)

This story gave me those same feelings that I had back in high school when I was forced to read some old book that bored me out of my mind and had my late-1990's teenage brain daydreaming about Gwen Stefani instead of trying to appreciate the classics.

I'm...conflicted?

I'm also frustrated because I'll never really know what my true reaction would have been to this book because someone FREAKING SPOILED IT FOR ME. So, I really think that screwed me up. I was trying to read the book like I didn't know how things turned out. But I did know, so...

I'm breaking this up into two parts: things I didn't love, and things that made me laugh (but weren't supposed to be funny). Hitting it from two angles should work out great since I'm a lot like Gollum.

First, it's super hard to read a book when expectations are as high as Wiz Khalifa. And with the movie coming out, John Green everywhere I turn, and #TFIOS trending on Twitter every day, it's tough to just try to "read a book." It's more like an application to be a Nerdfighter. I kinda felt like I was going to tryouts. All this stuff skews my reading of the story, it's my fault for waiting so long. The fault is not in my stars, it's in my procrastination.

I do want to say this right up front, though. This is an absolutely beautiful line:

"I fell in love the way you fall asleep. Slowly, and then all at once." 

Seriously, I would get this tattooed on my throat.

Things I Didn't Love

The characters. Look, I don't care what anyone says, Hazel and Augustus are not believable characters in any way whatsoever. No. This is what Hazel and Augustus are: the teenage girl version of today's John Green, and the teenage boy version of today's John Green. Hazel and Augustus are the same person to me.

I have seven years of experience as a teenager. I lived and worked with teenagers for quite a few years. Hazel and Augustus are not teenagers, they're second year grad students in a prestigious MFA program.

People don't talk like Hazel and Augustus, especially teenagers. If we had some backstory or something on how both of these characters were notable geniuses with photographic memories that were perfect for memorizing long, boring sections of confusing poems and books, that would've helped. But, I understood them to be average teenagers with the exception of their fights with cancer?

Like the other John Green books I've read, there were paragraphs, and sometimes entire pages, that I scanned over because they were so boring. I'm not sure how he gets away with it. I guess when you're super successful, you can do whatever you want? Like when J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer had success with their first books, they were then allowed to write crazy-ass long books that could have easily been trimmed way down without affecting the story one bit. I feel like these "shoulda-been-cut" parts of TFIOS popped up way too often. If it doesn't move the story forward, it damn well better have a very important purpose.

This was a very boring read. I can honestly say, that if it wasn't for all the hype, and the fact that I do (believe it or not) like John Green, I would not have finished this book. The only thing that drives the story is wondering who is going to die in the end. That's it. Trying to find out how Augustus and Hazel's favorite book ends is not interesting or exciting. I didn't care how that book ended. Everything they quoted from it was lame. I wasn't reading TFIOS thinking, "Oh, oh my...Hazel just HAS to find out how that story ends! Because if she doesn't, then...then...something terrible will happen!" Nope, if she doesn't find out how it ends, nothing happens. I know this because she doesn't find out how it ends from the original author, which is what a large part of the book was dedicated to, and NOTHING HAPPENS. I admit, for a few moments when Van Houten shows up in the end, I got excited that perhaps it was all going to come together. That there was something that I never saw coming. Nope.

Things That Made Me Laugh (But Weren't Supposed To Be Funny)

Augustus likes to keep a smoke between his lips, but never smokes. hahahaha That was my main source of comic relief throughout the book. That's the dumbest thing I've ever pictured. Hey I have a good idea, how about Hazel walks around holding a loaded gun to her head, ya know, for the sake of metaphors. And the strange (and almost dark) connection between the smoke in Augustus's mouth, and the fact that Hazel CAN'T FREAKING BREATH, is just flat out ridiculous.

Augustus's friend, you know, the kid that had his life turned upside down from getting dumped, but not from HAVING ZERO EYES. Attitude about going blind: whatever, let's play video games. Attitude about getting dumped: break everything and have nothing left to live for.

I did love how the old drunk stranger, Van Houten, hitches a ride with Hazel and her parents, and Hazel lays into him, and her parents act like this is completely normal.

And the kiss scene followed by strangers watching and clapping? Hahahaha What?!

The funniest part, though, the part that I can't believe I haven't heard mention of yet, is when Hazel and Augustus meet. Here's my fatherly advice to all teenage girls: if you go to a cancer support group with people that are suffering and dying, and a guy you've never met nor seen stares at you for an uncomfortably long time while others are sharing their stories, punch that motherfucker in the nose as hard as you can and run like Speedy Gonzalez out to your mom. Then call the police. If you don't feel comfortable punching him in the face, then simply say, "Stop looking at me." But for the love of god, DON'T GO TO HIS HOUSE.

Ready?

"A boy was staring at me."

"...his eyes were still on me."

"He was still watching me."

And here's the best part! This is the key! It makes everything okay and safe.

"A nonhot boy stares at you relentlessly and it is, at best, awkward and, at worst a form of assault. But a hot boy...well.

No. Absolutely not. This is not the message that I want my daughter to learn. "Oh, hey Kam, ummm, look...if a ugly guy ever stares at you to the point that you feel assaulted, take action. But if a really hot guy stares at you relentlessly, definitely go to his house with him. Because all hot guys are trustworthy and would never do anything to harm you. But ugly guys? Huh, stay away from those dangerous ugly guys."

I give TFIOS 9 out of 17 throat tattoos.

I actually don't hate this book. I hate some things about it, but overall, I can say that it's more of my personal preference that I didn't care for it, and not that it's a terribly written book.

I AM, however, very excited to see the movie now! My daughter read TFIOS before me, and when her little friend asked her is she wanted to go see the movie, she told her no because she wants to see it with me. For that reason alone, reading The Fault in Our Stars was well worth it.

And even though I would rather reread Twilight a hundred times before I reread TFIOS, I casually recommend it.











10 comments:

  1. As much as I had VERY different feelings than you on this one, this review is the best thing I read all day? lol.

    All your points I GET. They make sense to me. I just FELT differently overall. But respect, yo!

    Also, the Augustus with the cig thing? I think it was even more awkward and hilarious on the screen. Like I was just like yeah you look stupid. But he was so darn adorable haha. Also, the car thing? I also thought that was strange but they changed that up in the movie. And YEAH the clapping?? I was weirded out by that in the book and the movie lol.

    ALSO, all the awwwws in the world that your daughter wanted to see it with YOU and told her friends so. As a teen or tweet I would have NEVER gone to the movies with my parents unless forced to at gunpoint. :P

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  2. This is hilarious. I've never read the book and don't plan to - I honestly have never read ANYTHING by John Green. I don't have anything against him, and he seems like a really cool guy, but 1) I don't read anything that I know ahead of time will be extremely sad, 2) I don't like books that turn masses of smart readers into people that talk like this: "OMG THE FEELS, I CAN'T EVEN", and 3) Once something is so severely overhyped, I know that it's just going to be a letdown for me. Because come on, nothing about kids dying from cancer can be that fantastic. Anyway, your review was great! :)

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  3. Bravo! Fabulous review! I read it from all the teen peer pressure. My son actually read the WHOLE book which never happens so I decided I had to dive in despite the fact that I knew it would be to sad for me. And, in the end, I was as sad as I expected to be and not all that impressed. But, I'm glad there was a book that my son was interested in reading. Interacting with our children is the best thing about reading YA books. :) Looking forward to your next review!

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  4. Okay, that's flipping hilarious. Awesome review! I've been on the fence about reading TFiOS for a long time (partly because, like you, someone spoiled the ending for me, so what's the point?) I am soooo glad I read this review, because all the points you made are things that would drive me up the wall.

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  5. I think what I loved most about this review is that your daughter wants to see TFiOS with you rather than her friends. That's the best. I perceived this book differently than you, largely I think because I didn't focus so much on the plot as the characters and perhaps because although Gus seemed pretty ridiculously un-real, Hazel felt pretty real to me. I'll have to re-examine that I think. The quote in particular you call out here is both problematic and far too often true. As women we accept crap/weird behavior from men we find attractive that we really shouldn't. (I'm not sure if this is true for men too re: attractiveness of women.)

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and yay for father-daughter bonding time!

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  6. I had the same issue with the characters. The story moved me and if I were to see e movie I would bawl my eyes out for what was to come but I was put off by how "intelligent" the characters were. It just wasn't normal. I was well-spoken as a teenager and I sounded nothing like that. I knew no one that sounded like that, even e geniuses in my school.

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  7. Wow! I'm glad I was able to read your review. TBH, I love and adore TFIOS so much that I might've ignored some of it's "lapses". You were able to enlighten me about it's cons particularly the "form of assault" passage.

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  8. Love this. I felt like Gus and Hazel were characters on a late 90s WB show (cough Dawson's Creek cough) with the big words and the witty repartee and what not. BUT if anyone wrote dialog that reflected how teenagers really talk, it would be unreadable, so some leeway must be given.

    The part that annoyed me the most was how Gus doesn't disclose his health status till after the Dirty Venn Diagram... that was a total dick move.

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  9. I love this! I found it thanks to Reading in Bed (above). You made me laugh so hard because I had many similar views. But I have to say that your daughter choosing you over her friend for the movie is a pretty sweet ending to a great post.

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