I wouldn’t say I was disappointed with this book, it was good. I just expected to cry and I didn’t.
This is a young adult novel about a girl who is diagnosed with cancer at the age of 13. When the novel begins she is 16 and is on a “miracle” drug which is stopping her tumours getting any bigger. Her cancer is being contained but she is not cured. She is also depressed. Who wouldn’t be? Her mum forces her to “get out more” and attend Support Group and it is there that she meets Augustus Waters – extremely attractive, one-legged cancer survivor. They fall in love.
You know when you pick up this book that a love story between two teenagers with cancer isn’t likely to have a happy ending but there is also a lot of humour in this novel.
I don’t usually do teen romance. The young adult books I read tend to be dystopian – Hunger Games, Maze Runner, etc – or fantasy – Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, etc – so this was new to me but I liked it.
I have to say, I found the teenagers quite pretentious but I am 29, and some teenagers are pretentious I guess. The dialogue had a bit of a Dawson’s Creek feel to it where everyone discusses their angst with four-syllable word monologues. But then, I watched all six seasons of Dawson’s Creek so I can’t really complain. I probably would have had a crush on Augustus Waters. I probably will when I watch the movie. NO wait, scratch that. I forgot, I’m 29.
Even more pretentious than the teenagers was the book they discussed constantly throughout the novel, An Imperial Affliction. I felt it was obvious from the quotes from the book and the author’s emails to Augustus and Hazel that he was going to be an ass.
The deterioration of Augustus seemed very realistic as did his feelings of disgust with himself. I think the way it dealt with the side affects and people’s reactions to cancer was very real.
I also thought that Hazel’s parents resentment of her spending all her time with Augustus at the end even though it was them who encouraged her to make friends was a very human reaction. Even though they probably felt terrible for thinking it they couldn’t help feeling that way. Their time with their daughter was precious and limited. They didn’t want to share it even though they knew it was selfish to think that way.
I think that the real story is about Hazel deciding to love and be loved even though she knows it can only cause pain in the end. At the start of the novel she is closed off from the world, content to stay in reading and watching reality tv with only her parents for company. She is a different person at the end of the novel.
It was a good book. It was a sad story but it wasn’t the tear-jerking masterpiece I was expecting. Maybe I was just in a cynical mood when I read it. It’s probably the media hype around the novel and it’s film adaptation’s fault. It had a nice message. Although the kids in this story are defined by their cancer, they do not let it be who they are and I would like to think and hope that in that kind of situation I would be able have the same attitude and courage.