Review: The Fault In Our Stars

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Goodreads

Title: The Fault in our Stars

Author: John Green

Published: Penguin Books, 2012

*Spoilers included in this review*

 

 

Back Cover

 

 

Despite the tumour-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

In Brief

 

 

A touching story of living life to the fullest when all is uncertain.

My Thoughts

 

 

Hazel is dying. She has thyroid cancer with lung mets. And she’s living as though it’s over already. Then one day she meets Augustus at her support group, and suddenly life is worth living. They are the kids at school that you want to have been friends with. The alternative-type, honest, just livin-their-own-life-with-no-concern-for-anyone-else type. As they get to know each other and we get to know them, I just grew to love them. And it sucks. Cancer sucks. Full stop. But this is a book that doesn’t focus on the whole cancer-teenager-dying thing, while still focusing on it. The focus is on living with cancer, not necessarily just dying of it.

I really liked this book. Really really liked. John Green’s writing is simple, clean, humorous and insightful. He writes with innocence, while showing us the depth behind the characters.

**SPOILER ALERT**

But what would a cancer book be without a relapse? So of course there it is. And time is short. So Hazel and Augustus try to make as much of the time they have as they can. And it’s sweet. I also think it was necessary to the story. This is a story about cancer, living with, dying of, grieving and moving past.

Rating

 

 

A+ – This book is AMAZING. It totally blew me away!

Recommend

 

 

DEFINITELY! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll question your own life choices. Maybe don’t read it on the train… and keep the tissues close.

Double Feature – If I Stay & Where She Went

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NOTE: FULL POST CONTAINS SPOILERS

 

Title: If I Stay

Author: Gayle Forman

Published: Speak; an imprint of Penguin, 2009

BACK COVER

On a day that started like any other…

Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, adoring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. Then, in an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left – the most important decision she’ll ever make.

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.

MY THOUGHTS

An interesting book. In a devastating car accident, Mia loses her parents and younger brother, and finds herself in a coma. NB: Not a spoiler. This happens in the first 15 pages. The novel is Mia’s struggle, during her coma, to decide whether to stay on this earth or move on.

That is the entire premise of the book – the whole thing takes place over her ICU stay. That said, this one was full of emotion. FULL of emotion. Do I stay with my boyfriend and friends, knowing that my entire family is gone and I have to learn to live without them? Or do I “follow the light”, go with my family, but leave my boyfriend and boyfriend to grieve for me, and not see how my life could pan out? Neither option is particularly appealing. Each comes with it’s own challenges.

Brilliantly written to pull on the heartstrings. An excellent choice for my first Gayle Forman novel!

 

Goodreads

Goodreads

Title: Where She Went

Author: Gayle Forman

Published: Doubleday; an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, 2011

 

BACK COVER

It’s been three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life. And three years he’s spent wondering why.

When their paths cross again in New York City, Adam and Mia are brought back together for one life-changing night.

Adam finally has the opportunity to ask Mia the questions that have been haunting him. But will a few hours in this magical city be enough to lay their past to rest, for good – or can you really have a second chance at first love?

 

MY THOUGHTS

When Mia was in hospital after a horrific car accident that killed her entire family, she made a decision. She made a decision to stay… but to leave Adam. This second novel follows both Mia and Adam three years following the accident, when they meet again. Once again, Forman makes you think and gives you all the feelings you didn’t know were inside you. Mia has had to deal with so much since the accident – and she dealt by avoidance. Now she can’t avoid any more. Adam is here and wants answers, and it is stirring up feelings she had hoped were gone for good.

I loved both these books – the many facets of one side in If I Stay, and the dealing with the aftermath in Where She Went. I read them back to back – in 2 days. I did them both in one sitting each – could not put them down. Forman is an excellent writer – just enough plot, great focus, character development over the two books. Absolutely recommend!

 

Have you read these two books? Did you love them?

The Secret History

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Title: The Secret History

Author: Donna Tartt

Published: Viking, 1992; My edition Penguin Books, 1993

BACK COVER

Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is the original American campus novel. When Richard Papen joins an elite group of clever misfits at his New England college, it seems he can finally become the person he wants to be. But the moral boundaries he will cross with his new friends – and the deaths they are responsible for – will change all of their lives forever. The Secret History recounts the terrible price we pay for mistakes made on the dark journey to adulthood.

 

MY THOUGHTS

The Secret History was first published in 1992. During my reading of the book, I originally actually thought it was older than that and I found it quite difficult to place the time setting of the novel. I thought it was set maybe in the fifties or sixties, based on some personality traits of the characters, and some of the references. However, there were other hints there that pointed me more towards the eighties.

600+ pages in this one, however I did read it relatively quickly. It was easy to read, well written and not a lot of what I think of as literary ‘dancing’ – wandering around a point and taking a long time to get from A to B.

It was pegged as “the original American campus novel”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this isn’t true, but I’m not sure I would have called it that as a selling point. It was set at a university, and the characters did attend classes. For me there were two major characteristics of ┬áthe plot – firstly the setting, where the group all met, and I suppose as a central point to help define their age, maturity, life stage, and what they have in common. Secondly the murder – we turned fairly abruptly to a crime focus.

I did enjoy the book. The main character is Richard, who changes colleges after commencing his studies in medicine and finding a, shall we say, lack of affinity for the medical profession. He stumbles across a group of students isolated from the larger student body, by their study of Classic Greek, and their eccentric tutor. Richard joins this class of only a handful of other students and becomes more and more entwined in their social group.

He makes friends with them somewhat out of necessity, as the Greek tutor requires them to study all of their subjects with him and him alone. As Richard has come along after the original 5 students had already established themselves, for the rest of the book he always seems just on the peripheries of the group. He narrates the book, sometimes for me more of an observer than an active part.

The book is an interesting study in behaviour, and how a major distressing event – in this case a murder – can cause the group to come to rely and depend on each other, and the stress that can cause on those relationships. Fascinating.

As much as I didn’t necessarily understand the choices these kids made, there was something about them I could relate to, sympathise with.

Me Before You

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Goodreads

Title: Me Before You

Author: Jojo Moyes

Penguin Books, 2012

 

 

Back Cover

Lou Clark knows lots of things

She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now, and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

 

MY THOUGHTS

When Lou loses her job at the Buttered Bun, she needs to find another one, and quickly. Her family depends on her. And totally take advantage of her, all the time. But anyways. So she ends up working for Will Traynor, formerly very active driver in life’s fast lane. The fast lane, however, was not kind, and an accident on his motorcycle robbed Will of not only the use of all 4 of his limbs, but also of the desire to live. So, employed by Will’s mother, Lou starts working with Will, trying to lift his spirits and get him to see that life is worth living. He has a nurse, so *all* Lou has to do is cheer him up. Harder than you might think.

 

Over the course of their friendship developing, they both learn a lot about themselves. And to be honest, they taught me a few things along the way as well. I don’t want to say too much about the details, but there are some big issues discussed in this book. It will make you think long and hard, and presents things from different perspectives. I really enjoy Jojo Moyes writing – this was the first of hers I’ve read but I may have purchased a few (read: all) of her others and am loving them.

This book is amazing. Everyone I know who has read it has loved it, and I’ve read stacks of glowing reviews. Do yourself a favour and read this one! It’s going into my top ten favourites, possibly of all time. I just LOVED it, and I’m willing to bet you will too. Do yourself a favour and read this one.