Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Bookworm: The Fault in our Stars by John Green

Crossposted from Goodreads.

"This book is a work of fiction. I made it up."

There are books that entertains, amuses, distracts and describes.

Then there are books that make you think.

I opened this review not with a quote from the narrative of The Fault in our Stars or even one famously said in the past that may be able to divine the impact of the story. But no, I used a fairly pedestrian quote from his Author's Note; a piece of writing that is sometimes only skimmed if observed at all. It is a fault of the impatient humanity in us all who is less occupied with the art of book-reading than simply getting to Point A in order to advance to Point B.

I had earlier opined that those who skipped or missed the contents of the Author's Note is a fool. I had since changed that opinion, but only because others may not value the thought behind it as much as I did, or else fail to observe the significance I found in it, in which case the Author's Note is therefore rendered meaningless.

Also, it's a young adult's book, and I cannot fault the young who feel, sometimes more than they should.

For me as an adult, in two paragraphs, John Green had forever obscured how I read the book, for better or for worse.

Because from there, I walked the tightrope between becoming emotionally involved and attached as some on GR obviously have based on both the reverent and enraged reviews, while also keeping in mind that the human emotions he was eliciting within us weren't from real people.

This whole world, this whole construct was a study in the abstract art of the seemingly opposite natures of love and death. And while he tried to tread carefully without patronizing or trivializing, from the start he knew that it is not a real interpretation of the real stuff people face every day, that for many it will trivialize or patronize.

But he never attempted or intended to make it such that it was or even could equal reality. Because imagination while powerful is not real.

The pipe is not a pipe. There is nothing here to either get angry at or sad or happy. Of course, you can get emotional with the idea, but then what really are you emotional about? If it is the presumption, there were none.

If it's because the story felt real or unreal to the point of it being an insult on your being, well according to the author, you're doing it wrong.

If the arrogance or maybe the irreverence didn't please you, well I can't help you there.

The book was engaging and simply written and yet exceedingly mature and complicated, the themes moving in-and-out of the fore at such a pace that I often had to stop and consider what I just read. So simply written, complicatedly thought, if you would allow for the visual paradox.

The primary characters were unrealistic is a huge complaint with some and would normally be one of mine. Between the perfect body of the ridiculously named Augustus Waters (Hazel Grace is passable, but barely) and the far too eloquent discussions of things that university students majoring in philosophy would fail to be able to qualify if even produce a counter-argument to.

But it didn't annoy me.

Instead I wondered if in creating the abstract, he allowed himself to write as if these teenagers did not suffer from our verbal impreciseness and poor grammar and was able to communicate as the voice in our head does, which is mostly far more intelligent than our mouth would ever be.

(Trust me, I do not communicate this articulately in real life.)

Additionally, with less than half the book to go, I started seeing that the stupid name(s) in addition to the 'body of the Adonis' (if you'd forgive the Twilight reference) was less so an attempt to ingratiate the romantics but more to make sarcastic reference to a common romance book trope, while additionally stressing how unreal this book is supposed to be.

(Nevermind the significance of an ellipses and when and where they are used in this book)

The book had its surprises, but none that stopped the heart and made you question the authority of the book: predictable and yet not without its thematic significance at every corner.

Predictable because it is a book about death and dying. Death is predictable because eventually everyone dies. It is life that is unpredictable. And yet it is a book directed at a crowd that for the most part does not know dying, cannot see death in their window or at their doorstep; those who are just starting life.

But it is also about love. And nothing is more unpredictable than that, without waxing philosophical on it.

Together they are two competing events, both tragedies and triumphs that are abstract opposites and yet strikingly similar things.

All this thinking did not stop me from feeling however. I did laugh, I did tear up, and I did get upset at times. Because my emotions were real, even if emotions were just as abstract as the novel itself.

Perhaps I am reading too far into this book, creating thought where there is none. Sometimes things are written because they just are and I am just a reader who fabricates and divines how to interpret it for myself and others, therefore making this story more than what it is supposed to be: made up.

I didn't have a fiction shelf on GR, largely because as a consumer of fantasy, the majority of my books are inherently fictional and so would turn out to be mostly redundant and frankly of little use.

Out of respect for the subject matter within this book however, and the characters and emotions that belong within it, I created a fiction shelf where this will reside.

Perhaps there will be others to join it. Life is unpredictable like that.


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