Sorry nerdfighters, I can’t stand this book.
The hype train got me, and with the movie coming out, I wanted to give it a chance, but there’s a lot working against TFIOS and me. First, I knew the twist going in. That probably sucks a lot of the emotion out of the reveal. Second, I’m only just becoming a fan of the contemporary genre and I still don’t like melodramas. But unfortunately, the biggest problem with the book is the writing and characterization.
John Green has spent a lot of time waxing about how he doesn’t write manic pixie dream girls, and I’ll agree, Hazel is not a MPDG. No, in this book, Mr. Green has written the first manic pixie dream guy in Augustus Waters.
I was completely unable to invest in Hazel and Augustus’ love story, because Gus is so inherently unlikable. He’s vain, pretentious, and doesn’t listen to what Hazel actually wants. He continually calls her “Hazel Grace”, despite being repeatedly told it’s just Hazel, because it’s what he likes. He plans this way over the top picnic and puts her on the spot, without thought of what she likes, how the food tastes, or the fact that such a big gesture makes it impossible to say no. The only time the character ever feels human is as the plane takes off. That’s a huge issue.
I did like Hazel, though I wish she’d shown a bigger array of emotions. She faces crushing disappointment and loss with the same apathy she applies to being forced to go to her support group. I actually liked that she got mad at her parents, terminally ill people are allowed to get mad, I just wish there’d been a bit more. Still, she felt like an actual person, (of course that’s because she is and that’s a whole other kettle of fish,) unlike her “love” interest.
I’ll admit, I teared up twice. Once during Isaac’s pre-funeral eulogy and once during his actual eulogy. I liked Isaac. In those two scenes, I actually felt humanity in Augustus. Why didn’t his girlfriend make me feel those feelings?
There’s just too many problematic things in the book. Gus’s pushiness. Hazel’s passiveness. That fucking kiss. No, seriously, that kiss killed any chance this book had. I was disgusted. And to have the Dutch people clap at the disrespectful American teenagers? Cancer perks indeed.