"I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once."
Despite the tumor-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.
You know you're in for an emotional roller coaster if you pick up a book like this. Did I really want a repeat of Marley & Me? Those nights of having to flip my pillow over after soaking one side with tears, and then being a true masochist and going to see the movie...ah, the memories of being mocked by the dry-eyed children in the cinema as I was dribbling snot into my popcorn.
Luckily, this didn't happen with TFIOS. Not that I didn't cry, just that I read it so fast there wasn't the night after night of torture. It's a tough read making it difficult to recommend in fear of my friends disowning me after having their heart wrenched out and repeatedly stamped on. My advice? Go into this book knowing it's going to be sad. The ending isn't going to see the young couple skipping off into the sunset after being miraculously cured of cancer. The world doesn't work like that and Green is obviously keen to remove this protective shield often found in YA novels.
I really enjoyed the characters and the gentle dark humour throughout. Hazel and Augustus are believable as a couple and, although I think he falls a bit too hard and fast for her, their relationship retains a subtle sweetness rather than out-and-out teenage infatuation. One of the most powerful moments for me was Hazel referring to herself as a grenade that's waiting to go off. I imagine that's a very real feeling for someone in her position and it really struck a chord. Supporting character Isaac isn't just inserted for light relief either, with his story being even more heartbreaking at times than the novel's protagonist.
For an avid reader, there were no surprises and you can pretty much guess what's going to happen in the end. I'd never write a spoiler but the next sentence is as close as it gets so maybe look away now if you don't want even a slight hint. If you've read My Sister's Keeper, I think you'll see the ending coming a mile away. It's not about twists and turns though. This is a story about life, death, and all of the beautiful experiences in between.
If I take one thing from TFIOS, it's that no matter what life throws at you, you have to try and remain open to new possibilities. We all have the right to love and no one should deny themselves of it, no matter what the outlook is. All in all, this is definitely worth a read, just be prepared to shed a tear or two (buckets).