My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Fiction is not made up of real people for the most part. They are creations. I understand this, but part of great fiction is making the characters feel real. That said, none of the characters felt real. They felt like a false imitation of life. It felt like that quirky indie movie, that didn’t know the line between being quirky and endearing and quirky and annoying.
I hate Augustus Waters. I hate him with a passion. He is arrogant. He’s the kind of guy who if I did meet him, I would stare at him like a grew a third head and if the opportunity came up where I could viably punch him in the face, I would do so with a grin. There was nothing charming about him. He was smarmy. He was a bit pretentious. He was just someone who made me angry every time he appeared on the page.
It was so bad that I felt no sympathy for him. The fact that he became was just a plot point. My frustration with him overshadowed everything else.
Before I make this the Augustus Waters hate show, I need to mention Hazel. Initially she seemed like someone I could get down with. She also suffered a bit of the pretentiousness that Augustus did, but in a more manageable way. She still felt somewhat relateable even though my life situation has never in any way even remotely resembled hers. Hazel was a good girl, plain and simple. As a result the more she liked Augustus the more I felt like she was that cool friend who was making a bad life choice as I watched her drift further and further away.
I was really hoping that the side characters would be well developed, but they really weren’t. The friend, I can’t even remember his name, the one who went blind was amusing at times. Irritating at others, but I never got a real sense of who he was. He was mainly there for the occasional outburst, to make someone feel bad, or as a companion. I didn’t get any sense in the development of his character even though he he was provided what could have been a compelling arc. Hell, his story, if he was a bit more interesting probably would have been more interesting.
Hazel’s parents were also rather bland. I liked that they were involved. They were the kind of parents who where there. The kind who were cool enough, without trying to hard or being sticks in the mud. Yet, they didn’t feel fleshed out enough. We didn’t really get to know them. There was a hint at the end, but that was all. Considering there weren’t many characters in this, I was hoping to get more out of them.
I’m not a big book crier. I’m just not. Yet, I can generally tell when a point is particularly emotional. I didn’t get that with this book. Possibly because I felt so frustrated for so much of the novel.
There are two kinds of stories, plot driven stories and character driven stories. Often stories are a mix of both. That means there are two main elements that a reader can cling to. I didn’t relate to the characters and I didn’t relate to the plot. Thus the book didn’t work for me.
You might be wondering what I gave a book I clearly did not like 2.75 stars instead of dropping it lower. That is because John Green’s writing style was so easy to read that I breezed through the book. The writing flowed. It made sense. I never found myself getting caught up and having to re-read out of confusion. I may have hated this book, but I enjoyed the writing style immensely. It was the content that did not work for me.