June 3, 2014

I'm feeling filosoofical

Green, John. The Fault in Our Stars. New York: Dutton Books, 2012.

Here's the trick: make plans to go to the movie adaptation of a book in a week. Then, bang, you can finish a book in two days! It helps, of course, if the book is funny, cute, sad, and totally easy to picture as a movie.

The Fault in Our Stars is all of these things. My godmother said I'd like it because there would be crying. She knows me too well. (I'd also been tipped off by the movie trailer and Buzzfeed, not to mention the friend with the movie plan.) I kept track of the passages that made me tear up, luckily mostly at home except for one bit of awkwardness before yoga class. There were eleven. That's not too bad for a 300-ish page book, and it indicates that I'll be bawling through the movie.

There were also an even greater number of passages that I highlighted because I just plain liked them. Beguiling is probably the proper word for this sixteen-year-old girl with likely-terminal cancer, a voracious appetite for literature, an independent mind, and a snappy wit. (She calls a hospital a "prematorium" and makes keen observations about broccoli and chocolate.) Certainly her new friend Augustus is beguiled, and how they fall for each other ("slowly, and then all at once," in the oft-quoted phrase) is the focus of the story.

The side plot, in which Hazel and Augustus search for more details about a book they love, reminded me strongly of Sophie's World. The comparison to that meta-novel about philosophers and dreams and other disturbing-if-you-let-it stuff seems odd, but they do stay in the Filosoof hotel in Amsterdam, and there's a story-within-a-story that they identify with, and plenty of educational value in the main tale. Maybe I should hunt down John Green and ask for an explanation like Hazel does with her author. Okay, maybe the similarities aren't that epic and it's just a vibe, but both books are oddly engaging and seem destined to stick with you for a while. And, as I imposed Sophie's World on a class of college freshman as an instructor, so now I impose The Fault in Our Stars on you. Or at least the movie.

Rating: ***1/2 (at least--I'm contemplating 4 and may come back)

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