Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Published: January 10th, 2012
Pages: 318
Age group: Young Adult
Publisher: Dutton Books
Rating: 5/5 

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

Some books just leave you breathless as you hold it against your chest, with so many feelings and questions all wrapped up in one. That's exactly how I looked like when I finished this book. Hazel Grace, our terminal narrator has been on a face-off with Death ever since she was 12. And oh, she definitely knows what's up. One day she meets Augustus Waters, who's also had his share of fights and knockdowns. But there they were, still standing. 

I've had my share of reading books about the terminally ill. But in The Fault in Our Stars, John Green writes with such dedication and compassion that makes you feel for the character. It's something else to think about when these two characters are carrying and wearing Death on their skin and bones at a time in their lives where they deserve to live without that harsh reality. But, Hazel and Gus found each other at just the right time. 

They shared their experiences, they laughed, cried and I sure did a lot of crying and laughing as well. Augustus is a great character and provided a much needed companionship, humor and he reminded hazel to not let the cancer consume her and take away all her hopes and dreams. I loved his bravado and swagger even through his condition, but he also showed his vulnerable side. Another thing I loved was the thought provoking and witty conversations these two have each other that somehow surpasses their young age. To be honest, it baffles and inspires me at the same time. 

John Green did another fantastic job in handling the pace of the novel, and I felt so much for the characters and their voices that touched me. He seems to capture Hazel's struggles and thoughts so wonderfully that it felt like she is one of my best friends. By the end of it, I can't help feeling like I have lost her. That's how amazing the book is to me. 

Some of the sentences that went through my mind while reading this book was "Will I be remembered? Will I leave a mark?". I think those questions really relate to all of us. It made me realize that Hazel and Augustus wasn't on this truly dark, depressing journey of accepting death. In fact, it is the acceptance of life. Life isn't always fair, but life just is and we just have to roll in with the punches and do the best we can. We have to take time and appreciate before it's too late to realize the things we take for granted. 

The Fault in Our Stars is definitely one of my favorite books and taught me a lot. My heart was so touched and yet so exhausted by the end of the story but that's how I know it's a well-crafted one. This book depicts love, compassion, struggles, pain, loss but yet combined with just how strong the characters can be; they still retain who they are. 

From this book I take that the world is not really a wish-granting factory, but we just have to take these numbered days one at a time and keep on trying. 

"You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful.” - Hazel Grace

Friday, May 25, 2012

Featured Book and Author: Ugly to Start With by John Michael Cummings

Greetings, fellow avid readers. I am very well excited into this; recently an author has kindly e-mailed me about the possibility of me reviewing his newly released book. And of course I jumped at the opportunity.

John Michael Cummings is an American short story writer and novelist and most of his work are for young adults. With two nominations to the Pushcart Prize, and appearances of his stories in many literary journals, including North American Review, The Kenyon Review, The Iowa Project; his work is highly appreciated. One of his young adult novel, The Night I Freed John Brown has been known to be powerful and based on his own experiences on growing up.

Ugly To Start With is a collection of short stories, and ones he has asked me to review. And I truly can't wait to get started! Since semester exams are over, what better time to start! Here's the synopsis below:

Jason Stevens is growing up in picturesque, historic Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in the 1970s. Back when the roads are smaller, the cars slower, the people more colorful, and Washington, D.C. is way across the mountains—a winding sixty-five miles away.

Jason dreams of going to art school in the city, but he must first survive his teenage years. He witnesses a street artist from Italy charm his mother from the backseat of the family car. He stands up to an abusive husband—and then feels sorry for the jerk. He puts up with his father’s hard-skulled backwoods ways, his grandfather’s showy younger wife, and the fist-throwing schoolmates and eccentric mountain characters that make up Harpers Ferry—all topped off by a basement art project with a girl from the poor side of town.
The story sounds so awesome! And I've always been interested in reading stories from a boy's point of view. If you wanna know more about John himself, just click away! And below are the links if you want to get your hands on Ugly To Start With and many of his other books, including The Night I Freed John Brown

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