I finally read The Fault in Our Stars. I was surprised. But probably not in the way you’d expect.
One reason I love Christmas holiday is the whole reading-by-the-fire aspect. A crazy music school life doesn’t lend itself well to much reading outside of required materials during the school year, so I quite enjoy some time to catch up on current (and not-so-current, such as a bit of Charlotte Bronte or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) literary favorites. This past Christmas included the New York Times Best Selling, soon-to-be-released-in-movie-form, tumblr favorite, The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green.
Well. It sort of did. I got a chapter in before I realized, after having enjoyed some blissfully intellectually challenging reads, I wouldn’t be able to stomach the “modern, young” approach to writing. At the time I thought I’d never pick it back up again (I even complained about how juvenile the whole thing was to my best friend.. and then quickly recanted as I admitted I’d only read the first chapter or two), but about a month later in a moment of Saturday morning weakness, I caved. Not wanting to crawl out of my warm nest of blankets and cats just yet, I pulled it out one more time.
I should probably say at this point that I in no way consider myself a book snob (although admittedly it sounds as so up until this point). I enjoy fluff books just as much as classics– probably more so sometimes if I’m completely honest. In fact, sometimes I find myself reading classics because I feel like I should, not because I want to. But then a lot of times I end up enjoying them quite a lot, so perhaps it pays off in the end. Anyway, it’s not that I’m saying The Fault in Our Stars (TFIOS) is fluff, but that’s just the point.
With it being critically acclaimed, so popular I’ve been assaulted with it practically since it was released, and highly anticipated in it’s newest form– movie adaption, well, I was sort of expecting something that would blow my socks off and then magically regenerate them as mittens. But I can’t say that’s exactly what happened. BEFORE YOU HATE ME, let me explain. And also let us take a second to imagine socks being reincarnated as mittens, because that would be pretty cool.
To be completely fair, I get that John Green’s writing is quirky and amusing. I get that this book is listed under the young adult section– the inference there being that it’s intended audience is somewhere between the ages of 14-17. I get that it’s a refreshingly frank look at cancer, something that has affected a huge amount of people, either personally or relationally (myself included). I get that his intent was to capture the characters and thought processes of teenagers, which he does quite well.
But somehow in the midst of that, I didn’t find the story all that endearing or well-portrayed. Endearing and well-portrayed enough for a “good” book sappy teenagers are bound to enjoy (which there is nothing wrong with), but good enough to capture the hearts of every twenty-something I’ve talked to in the past year and jolt it to a New York Time’s Best Sellers list for seven consecutive weeks? I’m not so sure.
Perhaps the golden egg of this book is its artistic treatment of terminal illness in the hands of a sarcastic, down-to-earth teenager doomed to die. Green certainly captures that character. If people were going on about that aspect of it and how clever Green is in his intentional adolescence, then I think I’d better understand the hype.
But that’s not what I’m bombarded with all the time at school and on tumblr and every time I go to a coffee shop (no really– pay attention next time you walk in a coffee shop. Guaranteed you’ll see someone with a copy of TFIOS tucked underneath their Mac like it’s their third lung. … OH MAN. No pun intended. My bad.).
Instead, people of legal drinking age everywhere are going on about how deep and insightful and romantic the story is. The few (admittedly) cute, quirky, or clever quotes included amidst the less-than-whimsical writing (which, granted, is probably a draw for some people) have been mercilessly superimposed over inspirational photos, some of which are seen sprinkled in this post. Even TFIOS tattoos are becoming common place among my peers. I guess it just makes me sad that my generation is so easily impressed, so easily caught up in a rather cheesy romance story, so quick to adopt what feels like an intentionally (and perhaps artistically?) shallow work. They truly are passionate about this story, and they make that abundantly clear through raving posts, hysterical youtube videos, and an impressive amount of tears.
So, while I do understand part of the novelty of it, I didn’t feel the writing was compelling enough for me to want to read another book by Green, nor do I think it deserves the massive (and I mean massive) amounts of hype.
Also, his frequent use of the word “nubbins” makes me uncomfortable. There’s nothing inherently wrong about that, I just don’t like the word because I’m dumb and have words that weird me out for no reason. It’s beside the point, but I felt I needed to get that out.
All that being said, no real judgement for those of you who have read and loved TFIOS, only a kind roll of the eyes and dramatic sigh. I’m not looking to start a war here, just simply state a personal opinion and perplexing confusion. I’m sure you have your reasons for loving, and by all means– share them in the comments! I may seem like a completely cold-hearted old soul, but I promise I’m not. Okay?