At the start of the year I was wandering around a book shop with the boyfriend looking for something to read. Gone Girl was one of the titles that everyone was talking about, so I picked that up. Seeing that it was on the buy one get one half price offer, I figured it would be rude not to get something else and pondered it for a while. Sophie Kinsella had a new book out but it wasn’t a Shopaholic book,so I wasn’t sure. The boyfriend suggested The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. He’s one of his favourite YouTube stars and promised me that he is a good writer. Then I read the blurb on the back: “John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet”. Heartbreaking? I can’t handle any more heartbreaking books on the bus! And kids with cancer? It didn’t exactly sound like easy reading. But a recommendation is a recommendation and I vowed to give it a go. Besides, Jodi Picoult had great things to say about it: “Electric … Filled with staccato bursts of humor and tragedy.”
The Fault in Our Stars is another young adult book. When I read Paper Aeroplanes I was a tad ashamed at first. It was a bit like my film snobbery – I didn’t want to be seen enjoying something made for children. But if these books are aimed at ‘young’ adults (Stars, Paper Aeroplanes and Soulmates), then kids are growing up a helluva lot faster than they used to! The book is narrated by its heroine, 16-year-old cancer patient, Hazel. Her parents think she needs to make friends and make her attend a support group with other cancer-stricken kids. One day she meets 17-year-old Augustus, who is fortunate enough to be in remission (she, herself, is incurable) and is at the meeting to support a mutual friend. Friendship soon blossoms and Augustus’ feelings develop into something more but Hazel is adamant that nothing can happen because she’s ‘a bomb’ – at some point (sooner rather than later) she’s gonna blow.
It’s easy to dismiss young love as just that but when you know that this is all our heroine will ever experience, it suddenly becomes something more. And it’s heartbreaking watching their relationship develop, with everyone clinging onto every last shred of hope. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Along the way you also get a beautiful coming of age story, a flash of inspiration to live in the moment and dream beyond what you originally thought possible.
It’s a well-written story too; I was surprised to find that a grown man could write in the voice of a teenage girl so well. It was almost Dawson’s Creek-esque – like she was too smart and funny for her own good. It also reminded me a bit of Gone Girl, in that the female writer managed to write in two/three completely different voices so well.
The film is released 20 June, so if you’re looking for a sob-fest without the literature, you don’t have to wait long. I for one hate crying in the cinema, so I’ll probably wait for the DVD release. It looks like it’s worth giving it a go though.