Publication Date: January 1, 2012
Hazel has been diagnosed with terminal cancer at age 12. Despite the drugs that promise her a few more years, she has accepted that she will die before most people.
When Augustus Waters appears at her weekly Cancer Support Group, Hazel realizes that her life is about to change.
This is my second time reading TFIOS. The first time I read it was in October 2013, and I read it because a couple of my girlfriends were raving about how great of a book it was. So I basically read it because of the hype and loved it because of that. Then, about a year later, I began questioning how I really felt about the book if I pushed aside the hype. Like, how would I really feel about it if I read it again. And when #BookTubeAThon rolled around with the challenge to read someone else's favorite book, I decided that it was time to re-read TFIOS. I knew that this is a lot of people's favorite book, so it completed the challenge and gave me a chance to see if I felt differently about the book 2 years after I first read it.
Really soon after starting it, I realized that I had missed several things the first time around. For example, the description of Augustus. I had initially imagined him with longer, wavy hair, but that's not actually how he's described. And when I tried to re-imagine him to fit the description, the image of Ansel Elgort kept popping into my head. I actually spend the first couple chapters of the book trying not to think of the TFIOS trailer and the movie cast as the characters. Finally, I managed to get my character image under control as was able to continue the book without thinking of Ansel Elgort or Shailene Woodley.
Not long after that, I felt like I wasn't enjoying the book as much as I initially did. It was something about the dialogue and characters that made me feel like I had a completely different view of them this time. I think that the first time I read the book, I glossed over a lot of things because of the hype, and didn't necessarily pay a lot of attention to the things that I noticed as I re-read the book.
Things like the dialogue and metaphors stood out to me a lot more this time because I took the time to seriously think about what was being said. Now, I'm pretty sure that everyone knows how famous John Green is for the metaphors in his books and how his characters touch on things that no one has really thought about before, but I did feel like some metaphors were ridiculous and others made no sense. The eloquence with which the characters spoke isn't foreign to me, I have some guy friends who are just as eloquent, but some things just felt overdone. Like when Gus is talking about basketball. That felt like a little too much.
Don't get me wrong, I still think it's a good book, and I still like it, but just not as much as the first time I read it. I've grown as a reader and a person since first reading it, which should be expected since 2 years have passed, and I think that has affected my opinion of the book. I found that while I did want to re-read it, I wasn't enjoying it as much and at certain times, felt like I just wanted to stop reading. It was really only after I hit the halfway point in the book that I knew that I wanted to finish it and that I definitely felt different about the book now.
I think that my initial questioning of how I truly felt about the book also played a part in this change. TFIOS is still my favorite John Green book so far, and I have a feeling that it always will be, but it might not be as great as I initially thought it was. Augustus isn't one of my book boyfriends anymore, and TFIOS is no longer on my list of favorite books. The time I've taken to really take into account my feelings about the book and how I see it have change my perception of it a lot, and I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing.
There were still plenty of things that I liked about the book, but honestly, I think that my first impression of it had been clouded by the hype and my girlfriends raving about it so much. The story itself is still meaningful to me for personal reasons, and I'll always remember it for that, but in many other ways, I just don't feel the same way about this as I did the first time around.
Okay. I may have lied a bit in those earlier sections. I wrote all of that before having finished the book, and it was my opinion and state of mind when I was 177 pages into the book. Here's the thing. The first half of the book doesn't really mean anything to me. It builds up this love story, gives you the background and establishes the premise, but it means little to nothing to me. However, the second half of the book is what stays with me. Even though some of my favorite quotes come from the first half, it is really only the second half of the book that I hold close.
The second half of the book holds meaning to me, so close that I didn't even realize it until the tears came. I didn't expect to cry, not when I already knew what was going to happen. But I did anyways. For an entirely different reason. For reasons more personal, more intimate. I cried, not for the ending, but for what it reminded me of. For how I felt.
The first half of the book isn't what holds meaning to me, it is the second half. And it will always be that way. Unless I can find some reason for it to be changed again.
So what's my conclusion? Do I like the book? Yes. This book means something to me in a way that very few books do. Did I enjoy it in its entirety? Yes. Do I still prefer the second half to the first half? I always will. What does this actually mean? It means that I know how I feel about the book, and that is that yes, I have changed as a reader and as a person, but TFIOS will always hold a special place in my heart because I understand it. So much more than I did before.
I can relate to Hazel. I never thought I'd say that, but I can. No, I do not have cancer. But I know what it's like to love someone who does.
Augustus Waters will always be Augustus Waters. The beautiful boy who inspired, amused, and brought laughter to everyone who read the book. He will always be a symbol in our generation of something more. Augustus will be a character that we think about later in life and realize that amidst his seemingly nonsensical sentences, there was actually something to it. Some hope that he was able to have. And he will forever continue to inspire.
5 stars. Do not be fooled by the rating I gave it, it is only because I have decided that this holds a place in my heart that be explained or understood if I gave it any other rating. However, the reasons for the rating are completely different this time around, and I will continue to hold to that.
If you haven't read this, I do think it is a good book to pick up. Despite how I feel about the first half of the book, the entirety of it does make for something that should be read and reflected upon. Believe me, I'm not trying to be eloquent or channel John Green in any way, this is simply how I feel.