Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
I'm hesitant to call this a review. But it's more of a review than my Looking for Alaska post. So we'll stick with review.
ReviewI'm not sure how I can describe in words just how beautiful this book was. I feel like this entire post is redundant, because what can I say about this book that hasn't already been said? I don't think I'd go so far as to say this is the greatest book ever. But it was pretty damn beautiful.
Predictably so, I cried. A lot. That ending could no have been more perfect. Maybe it's just me that thinks that. I don't know. But it was beautiful beautiful beautiful. And while I had hoped for it, it was not what I had originally expected. Not by a long shot. I don't want to ruin absolutely anything because I decided to make this thing a review. But I will say that I was caught off guard. My friend said she wasn't devastated because they both have cancer and cancer is never really cured. I think, that doesn't even matter. I agree with Hazel's dad on this. It's hard to reconcile that these things happen to good people who don't deserve this in the least. But it does.
Part of the beauty will always be the humor John Green seems to put into everything he does. Hazel was funny, unique. There were a few instances where I didn't agree with her. She wasn't always right, but then again - who is? She was real. And that's what matters.
Maybe all cancer books are the same. I haven't read enough to say one way or another. But the three most recent ones - TFiOS, Side Effects May Vary, and Before I Die - were all so vastly different. And I they all had their own way of dealing with death, but also life.
In TFiOS -
Hazel needs an oxygen tank, takes a drug that prolongs her life, but is guaranteed nothing. Which really doesn't make her much different from the rest of us. Who really knows when they're going to die? No one. Some just have the advantage of knowing that they will probably die sooner than later.
Augustus has a bit of a hero complex. He wants to be something amazing. Meaningful. He wants his life to have worth. He's missing a leg. Isaac has to have his eyes removed. And there's the whole girlfriend/ex-girlfriend issues with both of them.
There are just so many problems that seem heightened because they are all sick. They might die tomorrow. But any of us could die tomorrow. So what do we do with today?
We get our hopes up, we get let down. People lie in an attempt to save us from pain. People get hurt anyways. We travel halfway across the world, searching for an answer to something because there is no answer for anything else. We do not know what kind of world we will leave behind. We don't know the effect we have on people.
The whole title comes from the Shakespeare quote:
And as John Green pointed out, this is not necessarily true. I agree. But only so far this - the universe certainly has its share of fault. But we have the rest.
PS: sorry it's long. Part review, part discussion-y stuff