16 June 2014

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

Title: The Fault In Our Stars
Author: John Green
Genre: Contemporary YA
Rating: 5 Stars

The Fault In Our Stars had been on my to-read list for quite a while. I hesitated to read it because I do not really read contemporary YA and because of the hype surrounding the book. I think I owned the book for several months before I finally decided to read it earlier this year. I knew that I wanted to read it before the movie came out (which is actually my impetus for even doing a review for a book I read months ago) so I finally decided to give it a chance.

I liked Hazel from the start, but when I met Augustus, I was totally smitten. Not in a swoony "I want to date you" kind of smitten, but more of a "he says such awesome things" smitten. I think every quote I love from the book belongs to Gus. From the famous "I fear oblivion" to "My thoughts are stars I can't fathom into constellations," Gus has the best lines in the book. Well, there is one from Hazel, but I will save that for later.

I was really drawn into Hazel and Gus's story; it felt real, it was believable. Okay, so maybe taking your sort-of dying girlfriend to Amsterdam as your final wish was a little far-fetched, but I went with it, because what happened when they were there was not. The emotions and feelings were real. I am not ashamed to admit that I cry when I read, and when Gus confesses to Hazel that his cancer is back of course I cried. And I cried several more times before the book ended (and thankfully it did have an ending, because I was afraid it was going to follow in the footsteps of An Imperial Affliction and end in the middle of a sentence or something).

"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 ... which you can't tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal."

This book somehow made it into my heart. It stayed in my head for days. And while this book, for me anyway, is not described by either feeling above, I do think it is a book that people should read. Before seeing the movie.

The book also reminded me of when I volunteered at Kid's Village (Give Kids the World). If you do not know, it is a village set up for families of kids who want to visit Disney/Orlando as their final wish. The families are allowed to come and stay for absolutely no charge. They stay in a villa with a kitchen, a living room, and a few bedrooms (that depends on family needs). There is a pool with access for wheelchairs (well, the entire village is accessible), an ice cream parlor, a castle with an arcade and games, and a train that travels around the village. I am sure I am forgetting some other aspects of the village, but just know that it is a place where families can escape for a week and not have to worry about anything. I began volunteering in middle school. I would go on Saturday mornings and prepare the villas for families by picking out several toys and games from the prize pantry and sticking the fridge with items like milk, bread, peanut butter, and other food and snacks (I remember Lunchables being one of them). By the time I was in high school, I was volunteering in the castle, the ice cream parlor, and as either Mayor Clayton or his assistant, visiting the children and tucking them into bed at night. I loved volunteering there, and it gave me an appreciation for organizations like the Make a Wish Foundation that are able to provide that for families. So although Gus makes fun of Hazel for wasting her wish on Disney World, there are many families for which that wish was certainly not a waste. When I worked in the theme parks (and yes, at one point I worked for Disney, Sea World, and Universal) even though it was part of our training to go out of our way whenever we did see the kids with their GKTW buttons pinned proudly on their chests (not to call them out or anything, just to treat them extra special), my volunteer experience gave me a slightly different perspective.

I do not give out five stars very often. But The Fault In Our Stars earned every one of those stars.