More “The Fault in Our Stars”

Man, John Green really wants me to like this book. I got completely sucked into the story for a good 100 pages or so. The prose was excellent and what was happening was genuinely interesting. Hazel wasn’t being as obvious of a dick. The only downside was whenever Augustus spoke (WHICH WAS ALL THE TIME), but through tremendous effort I pushed that aside and forged on. It IS worth mentioning that while the overall dialogue isn’t atrocious, Augustus’s dialogue is atrocious. My gosh, just shut up you pretentious snob.

But anyway, it was good. A very, very quick summary: Hazel doesn’t want to actually fall in love with Augustus because she’s worried she’ll die on him (FORESHADOWING, guys! Guess who it REALLY was who died? Yeah, I got it too). She loves this ultra-pretentious book with prose so flowery and Shakespearean that I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be bad…which would work better if Hazel and Augustus didn’t both love it. But anyway. Augustus uses his make a wish to fly to Amsterdam and speak with the author, he tells Hazel he loves her, and it’s all very romantic until it turns out the author is bonkers and won’t tell them anything. So they go to the Anne Frank memorial and…

Well, I’ll get to that.

But it was good, even very good. While the flaws were obvious and distracting there was a lot to like in there. But if there’s one thing “The Fault in Our Stars” likes doing, it’s ruining the experience…whether it’s Hazel being a bitch to the male population she isn’t attracted to, making fun of people with testicular cancer, or giving Augustus any dialogue at all, John Green really knows how to stop his book from reaching the next level.

And he stops it. Oh, does he stop it. He doesn’t just make the book gradually decrease in quality, he gets rid of all the good will he’d accumulated for me in one truly awful scene. It’s actually pretty remarkable.

Let’s go back to the Anne Frank memorial. Augustus and Hazel have obvious sexual tension and it’s fairly obvious that Hazel’s going to give in and start going steady with him soon. They were in a pissed off mood over the author thing for about two pages or so, and when they reach the memorial they’re pretty much chipper again. Together they muse over the horrible loss of life and…start making out. In the front of a crowd of people all listening to a recording from Otto Frank.

So my first reaction was “Hahaha WHAT,” but it turns out I was premature. Okay, what Hazel and Augustus are doing was beyond inappropriate. But hey, people do inappropriate stuff sometimes. Maybe this will be acknowledged?

But nope. Instead the crowd STARTS APPLAUDING. Yes, that’s right. Two teenagers start making out in front of the Anne Frank memorial and the crowd, instead of getting seriously pissed, thinks its adorable. Because cancer (Hazel calls this a “cancer perk”).

This scene was so offensive and so ludicrously unrealistic that I put the book down on the spot, disgusted. I have to ask: WHAT made him think this was a perfectly reasonable thing for people to do? Is he, pardon the language, fucking serious? I mean, the kiss is one thing, but APPLAUSE? If they were crowned King and Queen of Amsterdam it couldn’t have been more unbelievable.

That said, the book has managed to raise my opinion of it up to two stars. It’s enough for me to go and look for another John Green novel. With prose as good as his perhaps I’d really enjoy him with completely different characters and a premise that isn’t fraught with landmines (because cancer makes kissing at the Anne Frank memorial a-okay…). It’s worth a shot – I’ll try his Edgar winning mystery, “Paper Towns”, next.

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3 Responses to More “The Fault in Our Stars”

  1. Crude says:

    ‘Doing this thing that’s supposed to be shocking and winning the praise and adoration from an approving crowd’ seems to be a common modern fantasy.

    • I can’t think of examples offhand, but intuitively I think you’re right. My impression is that Green WISHES people would react in such a way so writing it into the book was a sort of wish fulfillment thing.

      Of course, he’s wrong either way. It’s the fucking Anne Frank memorial. Otto Frank’s voice is playing in the background. Show some respect.

  2. John says:

    In real life the applause would never happen. People complain about the “knight in shining armor” and the “damsel in distress”, I complain about “eye roll inducing ‘moments'” like these.

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