On YouTube, everybody is talking about John Green. I’ve never heard about this author or any of his books. Then again, I do live in Vienna and it usually takes a while until the translation hits the shelves here and only then do the big hits really take off.
published by: Dutton Books, 2012
my rating: 8/10
first sentence: Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.
When 16-year-old Hazel meets Augustus in one of her Cancer Support Group meetings, he seems immediately smitten and not the least put off by the oxigen tank trailing behind her. While Hazel is much more careful around other people, the fact that Agustus likes her favorite book helps build a friendship. Together, they set out on a quest to find out what happened after the novel ends abrubptly and mid-sentence, and end up falling in love…
I was determined to not be biased by all the raving reviews I had read of John Green’s books. In fact, they may have made it harder for Mr. Green to capture my reader’s heart. Which didn’t detain him at all. While the fun and quirky writing style sucked me in immediately, I only fell in love with the novel about a third of the way in. John Green seems to have timed this perfectly – stealing your heart, only to break it. And making you laugh while he does so.
Hazel’s grounded, funny and at times sarcastic voice makes this an enthralling and way-too-quick read. With such a stron protagonist, the added bonus of Agustus turned me into a fangirl that would put Twilight fans to shame. I honestly didn’t expect the dialogue to be that good, especially when it was Hazel and Augustus against the world – they have a sense of gallow’s humor only the terminally ill will probably truly understand. At times, I didn’t know whether I should cry of laugh – I ended up doing both.
This Support Group featured a rotating cast of characters in various states of tumor-driven unwellness. Why did the cast rotate? A side effect of dying.
This bittersweet, heartbreaking tale is a love story, yes. And it is a cancer story. But don’t be put off. The novel’s strongest suit is its humor and dialogue and characters you wish you knew in real life. But it also provides some little plot twists that took me by surprise. In fact, I thought I had figured out how it would end by chapter 4, only to find out I was way off.
While I was reading (in one go, by the way, only taking a couple of toilet breaks… and yes, I admit I took the book with me even then *ahem*) this silly grin seemed pasted onto my face. John Green knows what it’s like to fall in love and he made me remember my teenage days, though not cancer-ridden, as full of feelings as this story.
It is with one laughing and one crying eye that I close this book (which unfortunately is not signed by the author, no matter what color sharpee) and go looking for the next John Green to read.
THE GOOD: Quirky, fast-paced read, lovable characters, funny dialogue, adorable story.
THE BAD: Tear-jerker, should not be read in public by people who cry easily.
THE VERDICT: Hand me more John Green!
RATING: 8/10 Awesomesauce