Thursday, May 30, 2013

the fault in our stars

i just finished reading "the fault in our stars" by internet superstar john green last evening, and i found it to be a difficult experience. 

it was like listening to someone present an argument that you really disagree with, but being amazed at how well, or how beautifully, they stated their belief. 

but in the end, i'm still sad that he believes what he believes, and that the universe for him, isn't this incredible broken gift that doesn't point towards futility and nothingness, but beauty and life, the same kind of beauty and life that he has so wonderfully written about. 
(i just reread that last sentence and realized how convoluted it was.  what i mean is this: i am saddened by his despair, especially when he obviously has such an eye for beauty). 

it is a story of teenagers and cancer, and if you want to find out more about that part of the book, just look it up, well anywhere.  it has become a huge issue online about whether this is a cancer book or not, and whether green is using the disease as a literary tool for emotional manipulation, a la nicholas sparks.  and you will be likely to hear more about it, since there is a movie in the works starring several young up and coming actors, so there will certainly be all kinds of "entertainment weekly" buzz and such. 

who cares?

it is a terribly broken story about cancer and life and love.  in some ways it feels amazingly lifelike, which is almost certainly part of the draw of the book.  at other times it seems utterly fantastical, as when his teenage characters use phrases that have even the most academic adults scrambling to google.  always, though, it is well-written, quirky in the best way, and emotionally powerful. 

but in the end, what did it really say?  without giving anything away, i will simply say that i found this story to be amazing, but the conclusions of the characters (and therefore the author) to be desperately lacking.  lacking what?  oh, i don't know.  hope, for one thing.  i've dealt with many people in terrible kinds of pain and grief, and i think there is more to the story than what green has given us here as an option.  you begin to see it a bit in the compelling character of augustus waters, but it falls short.  it left me, at least, with a sense of despair. 

like john green, i believe the world is broken.  terribly broken.  his depiction of families dealing with cancer and the unbearable weight of losing their children prematurely is stunningly good.  spot on.  but the fault isn't only in our stars.  it is in us.  and the brokenness isn't the only thing.  it is one thing, to be sure, but my life has a gospel to share.  i have good news:  we are broken...and we are loved.  there is a Love beyond our love, a Life beyond our life.  there is, as augustus wanted so badly to believe, a capital-S "Something." 

and that changes everything.  even pain, cancer, and death. 


Cmilinovich said...

Finally. Someone who agrees with me! I was utterly depressed and saddened after finishing it. I asked my teenage book group why they liked it because I found NO HOPE at all in it. They liked the characters very much and thought it was believable; however, they did not see the negativity like I did. Maybe those of us who have seen cancer and have children look at it in a different way. I just don't want to read anything that hopeless again. I want to read more Tolkien..."There's always hope!"

Crafty P said...

See I got this at the library after hearing about it or seeing it on someone's shelf and then never read it. When I brought it up to my book club they told me what it was about and why we wouldn't be reading it (too soon/too close to home for my friend Rachel whose son has cancer) as a group.

Now, that said, I didn't read your whole post as I'm really curious about it still and wonder if I should read it at some point (I did read the first 2 paragraphs).

THAT said, I did read what this very intelligent Cmilinovich (ha! I know who that is, btw) just said and I may have to pass altogether. As a very optimistic and very pregnant chica, I'm thinking it's not going to go over well with me.
didn't shannon read it? what did she think. maybe you should do a he thought/she thought post sometime comparing a book you both read and who you both saw it differently/the same/blah blah blah ( I think these things are interesting at least... humor me)!

Gregory Milinovich said...

Crafty, shannon liked it more than i did. well, let me clarify, we both really liked it, in terms of style and dialogue and characters, etc. it is VERY well done, in my opinion (and in shannon's, too). but while i felt the worldview being advocated was one of hopelessness and nihilism, shannon came away with a different feeling, and thought it was latent with some hope (if i'm not putting too many words in her mouth at this point). i have no real advice about it, except to say that, for me, it was very much worth reading.