So, a quick synopsis. Hazel has terminal cancer, but is being kept alive by a medical miracle drug. She watches America’s Next Top Model with her mum, rereads the book An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten and attends a Cancer Kids support group. At the support group she meets Augustus Waters, a boy who takes her out of her monotonous life and changes it for the better.
Now I’m aware that most of the internet has read the book, but I’m still going to keep this a spoiler free review.
I have been a fan of the vlogbrothers for a very long time and I’d heard a lot about John’s books and his writing ability from fellow Nerdfighters, however until this week I had not read one of his books. I cannot offer you an explanation as to why, but I can only an apology that I was so late to this amazing word of literature.
First of all John Green is a writing genius. From using Hazel’s name to symbolise that she is between life and death, to the descriptions of Amsterdam, to the plot twists which make you laugh then cry. This book has been superbly crafted and I plan not only to recommend this book to everyone, but to also give it as a gift to my friends and family as I feel everyone needs this book as it reminds you of the beauty and tragedy in life.
Now on to the thing that John Green does so extraordinarily well that it made me cry: capturing the voice of a young teenage girl with cancer. While reading tfios I had to stop several times to take deep breathes and to stop the tears, and I wish I was being over dramatic. I found Hazel’s voice to be exactly like mine when I was being treated for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2010, even some of the things she said felt like they had been taken from my 16 year old self. The idea of people thinking that you are strong and brave, when really you’re doing what you have to, or keeping your distance from your friends because you don’t want to hurt them.
In no way was my condition similar to Hazel’s, I was lucky to get away with a relatively ‘easy’ cancer, but her voice was so similar to my own that it not only proves the John Green is an extremely talented writer, but it also proved to me how far I had come. Comparing my perspective on life now, to the one I had in 2010 which was similar to Hazel’s, showed me that I had made progress which was contrary to what I thought every day.
I realise that this has become less like a review and more like a John Green appreciation post, but this is me telling you exactly how this book made me feel.
So thank you John Green for being such a talented writer. You created characters that pulled on my heartstrings and submerged into their world. But on a personal note, thank you for helping me perceive my past as something I can move on from, but that can still be a part of me.