2014 EVENTS:
Holly Bourne, Non Pratt and James Dawson - 30th October
Becca Fitzpatrick - 15th November

Friday, 18 July 2014

GUEST POST: My Experience of 'The Fault In Our Stars'

Friday, 18 July 2014
I read the Fault in Our Stars by John Green around a year ago and I recently realised that I had yet to write a review for it.

(I’ve tried to make it as non spoilery as possible, but if you haven’t read the book and don’t me want to ruin anything, then go and buy a copy now and come back when you’re done)

So here it goes:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is my favourite book by a mile.

I have this weird thing with favourite books. I sometimes find myself getting weirdly jealous of people who have a favourite book that is obscure and that not many people know about, because I wish my special book could be something special to me and not something I hear about everywhere I go. TFIOS (The Fault in Our Stars) certainly does not fit that description. And for that reason, I sometimes (rather selfishly) wish that TFIOS wasn’t so huge and famous.

Now don’t get me wrong, John Green is a totally amazing person who totally deserves to be so insanely successful, and if The Fault in Our Stars wasn’t so successful, I’d probably never have discovered more of the beautiful collection of John Green books (such as Paper Towns and Will Grayson, Will Grayson) or have been introduced to the Vlogbrothers and the amazing community that is Nerdfighteria! I wouldn’t be able to see my favourite book on screen and I wouldn’t have such a vast community of fans that I can talk to about the book. At school everyone has their thing. You have the girl that’s obsessed with Niall Horan, the Tom Hiddleston stalker, the girl who fangirls every week about Teen Wolf and the ones who rave about Korean music.

And I am the TFIOS girl.

I’m the one that tells everyone to read the book, who informs them about the rest of John Green’s books after they are left longing for more, I’m the one who surprises them by telling them John Green also vlogs with his brother or who updates them on movie news. And it’s great to be the TFIOS girl.

But still I wish that TFIOS could be my special thing.

It’s kind of hard to explain why, so I’m using a quote to do so. In the book, Hazel says:

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like betrayal”

Which sums up my view of TFIOS!

Now you’re either going to completely understand where I am coming from, or you’re going to think I’m ranging from selfish to insane. But one day you’ll find your thing and you’ll understand.

But onto why TFIOS is my favourite book.
I relate to Hazel.

It’s that simple. (Well there are a few other key factors like the perfection that is Augustus Waters and the beautiful talents of John Green.) But Hazel is probably the main reasons for me.

When people talk about relating to fictional characters, they often mean because of their situation or interests.

When I say I relate to Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series, I say this because like Hermione:
  • I am a bookworm and love to read
  • I am a bit of a nerd
  • I have bushy hair
  • I tend to speak like Hermione a lot (If you know me, you’ll understand)
  • I live in England
  • I enjoy school (mostly)

…and so much more.
But with Hazel it’s different.

We connect on a much deeper level.

I don’t connect to her because
  • I’m sixteen.
  • I’m an American Citizen.
  • I’m living with Stage 4 Thyroid Cancer or anything even remotely like it.
  • I’m in a relationship, and have at least a smidgen of the love life that Hazel has with Augustus.
  • I’m like Hazel in a physical way.

Okay yes, arguably we do share traits. We both read, be both have brown hair, we’re both teenagers. But my point is that my connection with Hazel lies a lot deeper.

I relate to Hazel for other reasons.

And I don’t mean because we are both in love with Augustus Waters, or because she has experienced loss.

We think alike.

And unless you have experienced the same thing as me, you won’t really understand what I mean because I can’t put it into words.

Why else is Hazel an amazing protagonist?
Hazel is real.

She is the most real book character I have ever come across.

When I read TFIOS, It doesn’t feel even slightly like I am reading a book, because everything about Hazel is believable and you truly feel like you are there observing her life. She isn’t a character.

I think Hazel is real because of her flaws.
She makes mistakes.

Hazel says

“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”

And of course, this isn’t right, but it’s a mistake I’m sure countless of people have made.

It is a realistic human error, the kind of thing a teenager (like myself) struggling to grasp maths would make.

Anyway back to the mindset…

I feel like this whole book is a journey of Hazel trying to find the answer to one of the hardest questions on the earth,
What is the point in doing anything?

For some people, this question is easy to answer.

But for me, it’s impossible

I an agnostic and therefore I do not follow the religious answer to this question. I always thought that there is no purpose of life so we should just have fun and make the most of it. But then TFIOS got me thinking.

“There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.”

I find this quote from the book so fascinating.

I’ll have days, like today, where I will sit and scratch my non existent beard and try to find the reason for life,

But then I’ll have days when I’ll just ignore it all and that is actually quite a scary concept. That we can just forget something as huge as this.

Before I get even more sidetracked, I’m returning to this:
What is the point in doing anything?

At the beginning of TFIOS, I feel like Hazel is ready to die. She knows that death is coming for her and she’s not fighting back because she knows it is inevitable. She has accepted her fate.

But then she meets Augustus and gets taken on a whirlwind adventure.

Augustus gives her a purpose, a reason to go on and she is able to forget about the “inevitability of human oblivion” for a while.

And therefore, Hazel wants to live. She wants to experience new things (like Amsterdam) and to live like everyone else on the planet again. She struggles on.

“But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”

And maybe that is one reason why Hazel is so distraught when she looses Augustus.

She has lost the love of her life and a truly beautiful human being, but Hazel has also lost her purpose to life, the light that was guiding her through and that is an incredibly terrifying situation to be in.

And that is the answer to my impossible question.

I’m not trying to be cheesy and say that the purpose to life is love.
But we all have something that makes it worthwhile. Everyone has their own purpose, and I’m excited to begin the journey to find out what mine truly is.

I’m not going to get into how deeply moving this book is, because everyone who has been touched by it knows. Plus, I feel like people focus too much on the ending sometimes and not the rest of the book, so I’m going to stay away from it.

And I have barely started on the perfection that is Augustus Waters!
But I’ve probably gone on for way too long now.

Congratulations if you read it all the way to the end! And thank you!
To summarise:
  • TFIOS is SO much more than a book
  • Although I do wish it could be my special thing, everyone has to read it!
  • Hazel Grace Lancaster is my favourite fictional character of all time
  • John Green’s books are all beautiful, especially TFIOS
  • This book is real and truly believable
  • It has helped me to establish my beliefs
TFIOS is amazing!

It will always stay with me.

- Priya

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