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25 June 2014

The Fault in Our Stars, Honesty Time

If there was a guide on how to anger the whole internet, criticising The Fault in Our Stars would probably be in the first page of the handbook. I've been debating about whether to write this post for a long old time. I read John Green's The Fault in Our Stars last year after hearing the name thrown around a lot. I didn't know much, if anything, about John Green at the time of reading it, and before I'd read it I actually had no clue what the book was about. But now The Fault in Our Stars has turned into a worldwide phenomenon. And as the months turned to weeks turned to days until the release of the film, I've been left with one burning opinion which I've kept hidden from everyone. I didn't want to be thrown abuse on Twitter or argued down on Facebook. Now though, I've decided just to come right out and say it. John Green's, The Fault in Our Stars, is overrated.  Before you all gasp and turn off your laptops, never to read Alice's Antics again, I think it would be lovely if you just let me explain myself.

When I first read the book, I really wanted to like it. I loved the concept of the story and for me the problem is definitely 100% not the fact the two main characters have cancer. I know some people say it's romanticising cancer, but to me I definitely don't think it is. The book is simply a book about two teenagers who happen to have cancer, as opposed to two cancer patients who happen to fall in love. And if you think people look up to the book so much it makes them aspire to have cancer, then you definitely do not understand people. I know some very big fans of the book, and none of them think having cancer is a form of finding love. It's awful to say, but very often when someone is diagnosed with cancer, or any form of illness, people stop seeing the person and start to see the disease. I can vouch for this from my own mother who battled and overcame breast cancer when I was younger. We later moved to a different part of the country, something we were always planning to do, but after my mums diagnosis, moving away when she was cleared meant we could leave behind a lot of reminders. Later, she told me ''It's hard to carry on living life normally when you aren't treated like normal. I would go into a party and people would greet me and ask how I was, and when I said I was fine, they would then stop and say, 'yes, but, how are you?' ''. This is almost a direct quote from the conversation we had as it stuck with me so prominently. So for John Green to create Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters and give them a life outside of the cancer unit, it's something I highly commend. It opens up people's eyes to the people behind the sickness, which is a very underrated trait of the book.


But here's where all the fuzzy 'I love John Green' club comes to a close. I understand books need to be entertaining for them to sell, there needs to be a beginning a middle and an end, there needs to be a plot twist or a climax, or something in the middle. But why did he have to choose such an unbelievable scenario such as going to Amsterdam. Why could John Green not have written a beautiful love story about two cancer patients and made it all seem feasible and possible to, well, real life cancer patients? If you want to write a book from the point of view of somebody who has cancer then great, but you don't need all the fancy bits and unrealistic adventures to make the characters life worthwhile. People are so focused on how beautiful this love story is,' a modern day Romeo and Juliet', they are overlooking how these kids hopped on a plane to another continent. Met an author of a book. And kissed in Anne Frank's house, of all places. This in itself got to me a bit, I think John Green intended for the characters to be thinking 'there's so much bad in the world, let's make the most of what we have', but by setting this kiss in such a pivotal setting, where a real, breathing girl and her family, a long with millions of other Jewish people at the time, were captured, for me, it just seemed disrespectful. 

There were moments in this book, I laughed out loud, but half of the time I sat there feeling like I was reading one massive Tumblr quote. Which as it turns out, is exactly what half the book became. It's the first book I've ever read where I've hated the actual writing style of the author. I've read plenty of 'bad' books, especially those free ones you get on kindle. But they're bad because of the story line, or because the author has zero talent. John Green has got talent, and he can write a book, but in this one I feel like he just multiplied everything by 1000 and it didn't work at all for me. Particularly, when the pair are en route to Amsterdam, Augustus Waters delivers the perfect declaration of love to Hazel Grace. In fact he does not stutter, does not mumble, he doesn't even use colloquialism's, and it's not because Augustus Waters is a super human, and you couldn't even use the fact he's just found out his cancer is terminal... surely this would make him more nervous.... it's simply because John Green knew his target demographic would lap it up. He's a man of the internet, he knows what teenagers and young adults love, he gets the humor of Tumblr and the idolisation of Youtube, and he used this to the biggest advantage possible when writing TFIOS.


I'm not a literature snob, I will read anything from Shakespeare to Charles Dickens to Jodi Picoult to, obviously, John Green. But I couldn't keep my silence about my opinion anymore. Maybe I just find John Green's writing pretentious, I don't know. I know it's the most popular book going at the moment so I am sure sure sure people will have a few words to say on my opinion. And that's totally fine. But please don't criticise and say I'm 'wrong'! Everyone is entitled to their opinions, The Fault in Our Stars just wasn't my cup of tea. I honestly could have sat and written for hours but I found this post really difficult to write as my brain felt a bit all over the place, so I've kept it to a minimum (you should all know by now my minimum is most's maximum) and hopefully it all came out in ordered, structured sentences. I will still go and see the film, and I still cried at the end of the book, which shows despite all my criticism's I did have an emotional connection with the characters. Although I also cry at everything ever, so who knows really. 

I hope you don't mind this rant excuse of a post. I feel like calling it a book review would be too generous! Feel free to suggest to me any books, even if they are by John Green (I've heard Paper Towns is quite good). 

Ciao for Now! 
x

7 comments:

  1. I completely respect your opinion Alice. I'm pleased that people like you can say you have criticisms of the book because how boring would life be if we all liked the same things?!

    I feel like I have a much more of a connection with the book than the average person because I am dying and there are things that John Green got absolutely spot on from my point of view like the wearing of oxygen and hating my lungs for not doing their job properly, the climbing up the stairs and wanting to do that by yourself, the feeling like a grenade and then the portrayal of Gus getting his infection, I know exactly how that feels and how painful that is. But like you I have criticisms of the book too and you definitely shouldn't feel like you should have to hide your opinion.

    Great Blog Alice!
    Much Love
    Stacie xoxo
    http://stacie-lifeisworththefight.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  2. I, to some extent agree. The things is, I read the book in mid 2012. The reason I read it is because someone told me to and proclaimed it as "the best book ever!" I wish thoroughly let down, I am an avid reader and although as I've been growing older I find less and less time for it, I do still enjoy reading. I have read so many books that tfios is just "alright." It does not live up to the hype: sure John Green has a knack for words, and I do very much enjoy vlogbrothers, I just find tfios (and most of his other books for that matter), not worth the hype. Despite this, I did think that the movie was a spot on (well-almost) adaptation of the book-it's just that both weren't spectacles. Love your blog

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  3. I agree with everything you've said, recently read this book and had a horrible niggling feeling about it because I just didn't understand the 'hype' about it but couldn't quite put my finger on what I didn't like about it. But this blog post has sort of opened my eyes to what disappointed me in this book.

    It was such a good premise for a book but its almost like John Green cheapened it by making it a little too cheesy for my liking. But I guess what he did worked because many people out there loved the book and I dread to think how much money he's mad.

    I would definitely not say it was a 'bad book' but I don't think I would read it again which is a shame.

    http://skindeepchatter.blogspot.co.uk/

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  4. It's so strange, earlier today I've had a conversation with a friend who also didn't like this book and also thought it's overrated. I am still reading it, so don't really have an opinion yet but it's so refreshing to hear a different opinion because everyone keeps telling that this book is amazing and not everyone dares to criticize it :)
    Miglė x | Meet Me On The Balcony

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  5. I've been a John (and Hank) Green fan since about 2008, when I first discovered vlogbrothers and Looking for Alaska. I really liked TFIOS when it first came out and have reread it a few time since the initial read. I agree with a lot of your points; it's cheesy and definitely overhyped, especially with the movie. It went from being a book that no one, at least in my circles, knew about to something that everyone was quoting everywhere. Some of the more meaningful quotes of the book turned into tumblr posts that took away from their meanings.

    In regards to other John Green novels I suggest Looking For Alaska (my personal favorite), or Will Grayson Will Grayson. I'm not a big Paper Towns fan as it's too similar to Alaska, but it's not a bad read.

    shanssoapbox.blogspot.com

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  6. To be honest, I was a bit hesitant to order this book considering its genre - Young adult literature..but I just couldn't ignore the "buy" button after I read it was John's best work until now.... I am extremely glad I bought this masterpiece...

    It's difficult to find a book which entertains and preaches you at the same time..(In a non-preachy way..) ...but this one went way beyond my expectations...it made me changed the way I looked at life...It made me realize that life is too short to indulge in its trivialities...It made me laugh and cry at the same time... it made me envy Hazel and Augustus that they knew more about life than I do...

    This is a book meant to be read over and over again...

    This will be my "An Imperial Affliction"...

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  7. One of the most lovable love story ever. The love between Hazel Grace and Augustas waters is amazing.

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