I…had really high hopes for my first John Green book. Seriously. With everybody going crazy over him and how much they’re raving about how great The Fault in Our Stars is, I was like ‘Crap, is he the next Cornelia Funke/Joseph Delaney/Anne Cassidy?!’ (all belong to my list of favourite writers where very few make it as I’ve become a picky reader throughout the years). However, those hopes of mine were dashed once I’ve completed reading this book. Honestly, I wasn’t even pulled into the world of Hazel and Gus, and the ending made me feel like hurling the book towards a wall…which I didn’t because 1. I love books too much and 2. It’s my friend’s book.
Now, why do I not like this book?
The story is typical and expected. Two teens meet and fall in love. It belongs to like a long list of basic ideas where writers try to make said ideas more unique BUT what’s the twist? One of the teen’s a cancer patient, the other an amputee and that draws me in because I know that the story can either end in both surviving while building a beautiful world that revolves around them or it could end in one of them dying. Thing is, I don’t feel the emotions that are supposed to be felt in this book. I don’t feel Hazel’s pain. I don’t feel Gus’ death. I don’t even feel their love. And, usually, feeling what the characters are feeling isn’t hard for me because when they’re devastated by loss, I’m crying my eyeballs out. When they’re floating with joy, I’m laughing and smiling along with them. John Green didn’t write well enough in this book. Although comparing it to Twilight, Hazel and Gus are slightly better than Bella in terms of dishwater-boring-personalities. That’s only thanks to the sarcasm/wits/humour, though.
Then, comes the romance. Love at first sight is beautiful. Two survivors falling in love at first sight? Even more beautiful but…the love between Hazel and Gus doesn’t feel real. It lacks depth and now, you may argue with me about it because there’s a saying that says that love is blind but honestly, I just don’t feel it. Sure, Hazel’s a cancer patient. She can be like, to heck with being cautious and whatnot, I’m going over to the house of the guy I just met moments ago. That’s alright. In fact, I find Gus a really sweet guy too. The romance in this book just lacks the magnetic pull that drags me in.
Also, I believe that this book would’ve been better if there were lesser metaphors/philosophical ideas. Honestly, as much as I understand that there will be those due to Hazel’s nature, there should still be a limit. I admit, I skipped through more than a few paragraphs that had a bunch of these since not only was I eager to know what happened next, I knew that I’d kill a few of my own brain cells trying to absorb each and every word typed.
As for Gus’ death, the way it was written made it feel like another daily event that just passes by without anyone getting wind of it. It just…blended and faded into the background and I was like ‘…’ throughout the whole ordeal. I’ve been to funerals, I’ve lost the ones I love to cancer too but Gus’ death didn’t bring me the emotions I felt during those times. Not even a tiny bit. (Before you call me cold-hearted or whatnot, I’m not. In fact, you’re looking at someone who cries rather easily when faced with something sad or heart-warming). Oh, and let’s not forget the ending. I was expecting one with more than two words for the final sentence, or at least one that shares a bit more of Hazel’s thoughts. It felt like a cliff-hanger for me, hence why I wanted to chuck the book to the skies.
The only thing that I liked about this book is how quotable some sentences are.
Other than that, I’m hoping that the movie will actually be better than the book. Perhaps the leads can actually make me feel the characters and their story when the printed letters couldn’t. Maybe I’d even cry when I’m supposed to too.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars.