Peter Van Houten with Augustus, the two end up on a Last Wish trip to Amsterdam to meet the author, who is nothing like they expected.
Your good, John Green. I do so love your books. And yes, there was some crying at the end, which is saying something, because I do not usually cry over books, even ones I really like. The only other book, besides The Fault in Our Stars that I was actually full out crying was Monsters of Men.
I've been having a little trouble writing about this book, which is why this review didn't come out before. If I say it's not a cancer book, would that make sense? Yes, it's about kids with cancer, but it's not about kids with cancer. It's really about how you live your life, whether lightly, or heroically, or just regularly. There were no dying children speaking like prophets, and there were really realistic portrayals of what cancer can be like at the end (it sucks).
And it was funny. One of the things I look forward to reading John Green's books is laughing out loud. It happened many time whiles reading this one.
I think the point that a lot of John Green's characters sound the same is a fair point. His characters tend to be very smart and snarky. They're quick with a comeback and do a lot of deadpanning and sarcasm. I don't care, because that is my favorite character. I love that voice and don't get tired of reading books that are written in that voice. What can I say? It's my favorite. I disagree that it's an unrealistic teenage voice. There are plenty of super smart teenagers out there that totally have conversations like this. I have met some of those kids. I think a lot of those kids were at the book tour. It's not like they're talking like college English professors (Dawson's Creek, anyone?), they're talking like smart teenagers. Which exist. Yes, a bit more polished than you might hear in the classroom, but it's a book. Moving on.
I loved that Hazel's parents were actual characters you could care about. There aren't very many real parents in YA books. Most of the time they're just off stage. Hazel's parents were very involved in her life. I loved that there were scenes of them eating dinner together, and we weren't just learning more about Hazel during those times, but about her mother and father too. They didn't fall into the "all adults are stupid" stereotype. Sometimes they were right when Hazel was wrong, and sometimes even though it might have been best, Hazel needed to do something else.
There are lots of spoilers coming up. If you haven't read the book yet, don't ruin it for yourself. Also, I'm going to say "fuck" a lot. You've been warned.
I knew something was going on with Augustus when he seemed to be in pain while in Amsterdam. The moment when Hazel realizes that she is not going to be the grenade, Augustus is, was a very powerful moment. I respect John Green for showing what things are like as someone who is very sick deteriorates. It's not all lying in bed, smiling serenely, imparting wisdom and taking sips of water. It involves throwing up and not being able to take care of basic bodily functions and feeling like you're losing your dignity. It was hard and sad to read, but I'm so glad it was there.
I had this horrible moment, right in the middle of Augustus' funeral when I suddenly thought, "Holy fucking shit. What if Hazel dies too? Yes, she has terminal cancer, and will eventually die, but I mean die before the book is over. You better not do that, John Green. YOU BETTER NOT FUCKING DO THAT!" And then I thought, "Holy fucking shit, what if he pulls an An Imperial Infliction and ENDS THE BOOK IN THE MIDDLE OF A SENTENCE! I will never forgive you, John Green. I WILL NEVER FUCKING FORGIVE YOU!" It's possible I had become very involved in this book.
Neither of those things happened. So, thank you, John Green.
I didn't quite buy the end when Peter Van Houten shows up for the funeral, and then sticks around to sneak into Hazel's car to try and talk to her again. I just don't think he cared that much, even if he was feeling kind of guilty. I was willing to go along with it, because I was very involved with the book, but afterwards thinking about it, it didn't really add up. But we needed to understand what his personal connection was to cancer. I had thought originally that perhaps he had cancer himself, but his child having cancer makes a lot more sense, and shines some understanding on to why he is the way he is now.
I was left at the end sad and happy at the same time. Hazel was going to be OK, I knew, or as OK as she could be, I guess. There was no getting around that she had terminal cancer, or that she'd just lost someone she'd loved. Hazel is pretty awesome though. Yes, I know she's a fictional character, but I'm wishing her the best.