For the last year or so, all I’ve heard is people raving about this book. As you might expect, this set me up to believe this book was going to be amazing. I know I need to start some sort of mental clearing prior to doing pretty much anything because no matter what, stories seem to be regurgitated in one form or another and this is no exception. In a nutshell, think Nicholas Sparks. That pretty much sums up this book, and yet it doesn’t. There may be SPOILERS ahead, so read at your own risk.
Written from the first-person point-of-view, John Green weaves a bleak story of a girl with cancer who meets a boy who has lost a leg to cancer. The two hit it off and become friends and a little more. Hazel, our main character, is surrounded by a strong family base and a few friends, one who loses his eyes while she and her boyfriend Augustus get to know one another. The story continues with the two lovebirds getting closer and closer, though Hazel, realising her own mortality, tries to keep Gus at arm’s length. In an attempt to get her attention and prove they can be together, he uses his one ‘wish’ as a cancer kid and flies them to see her favourite author in Amsterdam. The trip doesn’t end quite as they had hoped it would, but the two do rekindle their romance. It is after that they escalate their intimacy that he tells her his cancer has returned. The last third of the book follows Hazel’s realization that it isn’t her mortality that she should have been worried about, but his. In classic Sparks’ stories, this too ends with her lover dying and she alone and heartbroken.
Despite my earlier proclaimed disappointment, I enjoyed the story. It was written well and the circumstances for the characters make you automatically compelled to root for them and feel Hazel’s loss that much more. Where I struggled was with something somewhat trivial, perhaps, the dialogue. I’m sorry, I wanted to be blown away by this book, I did, but please, tell me, if you’ve read it, what kids in their mid-teens talk like that? It was like Dawson’s Creek, but somehow more annoying. I challenge you to, instead of picking up the entire book, open it and just start reading, read a scene between Hazel and Gus and tell me you’re not put off by it. The trouble is, I was unable to suspend any disbelief reading this book. I think this is a good beach book, but that is the best I can say about it.