I have had the best and most awful weekend. As previously mentioned I spent quite a bit of time on Friday weeping about Jean Valjean. A completely legitimate activity, I’m sure you’d agree. On Saturday evening, Apocalypse Now was on TV, which I accidentally also cried at. This is much less legitimate, but I will try to excuse myself on the grounds that (a) I haven’t seen it before and (b) I’m clearly still very upset about Jean Valjean.
But then came Sunday and I read this:
And I felt ALL OF THE THINGS. I started off laughing out loud, quoting bits, being impressed at witty dialogue. Then I moved onto bawling. Yes, I knew it was coming – cancer teens falling in love is always going to end in tears. So many tears. And then I spent the next four hours watching John Green videos on youtube and now I must proclaim that John Green makes me feel like a teenage girl about how much I love him.
I read this in a few hours, it is clever, powerful, emotional and thought provoking about situations I don’t spend much time thinking about. Here are some snippets that (hopefully) might be interesting:
- The Fault in Our Stars has a fictional epigram like The Great Gatsby
- There is a hamster called Sisyphus (check your Greek mythology – I didn’t have to, my brother explained it)
- The title is taken from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings”. This is interesting by itself as usually when people talk about a fault in the stars, they mean it as though there is some predestined flaw that prevents something from happening. Obviously the words with the rest of the sentence mean something else altogether.
So yes, this is a book technically for teenagers. However, when I was a teenager I found books with this irreverent, witty, Dawsons Creek style eloquent chatter unrealistic and a bit intimidating. I wanted to know about things and be able to talk about them profoundly and have original thoughts but instead, along with pretty much all real teenagers I was jumbled up and shy and read a lot of books. Luckily for me, I’m not a teenager anymore, I’m fully fledged into my mid twenties and whilst I am still shy, I can get my words out. (Plus I now have the option of writing them down and putting them on the Internet.) My point is that I enjoyed John Green’s punchy style because I know teenagers don’t really talk like that but I also know that they’d kill to be able to. If this kind of dialogue and typing in capitals when EXCITED irritates you (an understandable opinion, but not one I share) then you probably won’t enjoy this book, even with its aforementioned cleverness and importance.
On a slight side note, if you were a teenager like I was and have retained a massive part of your introvertedness then I would also recommend Susan Cain’s Quiet. I read it towards the end of last year after reading Lucy’s excellent review and it is brilliant. I’m not sure why I never got around to writing about it in a separate post – perhaps I will. It is all about how introverts are sidelined in business and school environments because of our culture’s exaggerated worshipping of the gift of the gab. It is thoughtful, rang true and has encouraged me to be a tiny bit braver.
I won’t lie, I’m about to leave the house and I fully intend to come back with another John Green book. So as to not completely lose the tone of Charlotte Reads Classics let me assure you that I am currently reading The Great Gatsby (albeit because John Green mentioned it in one of the million videos I watched yesterday) and still have a post about Ethan Frome to write.
There will be classics again, I promise!