“So dawn goes down to day, the poet wrote. Nothing gold can stay”.
It is said that if you learn to accept rather than expect, you will have fewer disappointments. But I guess, it is human nature to expect. I had huge expectations of this book after the overwhelming amount of reviews, and the generous ratings it received. However, if I had to describe my thoughts about this book in a nutshell, it would be: Great Expectations + Average Reality = Huge Disappointment.
Let me start with the positives.
This book gave me a peek into the world of kids/teens who are battling disease. I had not read anything like this before, and it was part of the reason I picked this book. What I particularly liked was that despite the fact that the main protagonists are suffering from cancer, it is not just another Cancer Book. It is so much more. There are some really great thoughts expressed in a very beautiful way. It’s also engaging and well-written.
A concern that a lot of people seem to have with this book is that Hazel & Augustus (the main protagonists) do not speak like teenagers. I tend to agree. They think and act like teens. They just don’t speak like teens. The counter argument is that they are simply smarter than the average teen. However, I don’t think this has anything to do with being “smart”. Yeah, they are smart kids, they’ve been through a lot, and they’ve had to grow up fast. And while they are both smart, smart doesn’t necessarily mean speaking like a Yale literature major.
However, the single most disappointing aspect of this book is the subplot that involves the protagonist’s favorite writer – Peter Van Houten. He seems more like a plot device to hinge the book on. While the author was able to set up some wonderful sequences in Amsterdam (where Peter Van Houten lived), the interaction with the character himself seemed forced and false. Also, to make matters worse, he re-entered the plot several times, and not once did he redeem himself. It just got more pointless every time he made an entry, and my hope that this is all going to make some profound sense eventually- died like you fall asleep, slowly and then all at once (if you know what I mean :D).
Having said that, I really liked the plot, and felt that there was so much more potential. This is a shame, because clearly, John Green can write.
I wish that the protagonists could have sounded more like teens.
I wish that the Peter Van Houten track could just disappear from the story or at least make more sense.
I really wish that the story had ended differently…
But, like the author says in the book, “The world is not a wish-granting factory, my friend”.
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At one point in this book, the protagonists discuss their feelings on the afterlife. This made me think about my thoughts on this subject. I happen to believe that there is life after life, not in terms of heaven and/or hell, but something for sure. I haven’t worked out all the details in my mind – yet. 😛 But, I do believe in a world beyond ours. How about you? Do you believe in an afterlife?
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