Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The fault in our stars

  • Pages: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile; First Edition edition (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525478812

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars. But in ourselves 

With a title inspired by Shakespeare's famous quote, how do I even begin describing this book. Immediately after reading it, a hundred thoughts raced through my mind but the one that screamed loudest expressed the deep sadness I felt at having finished the book. Considering the main issue that the book is based on, it is difficult to write a review that will do it justice, but I'll try.

At first glance, Hazel Grace appears very much like the typical 16 year old teenager. Bright, angsty and with an unconventional sense of humor, it's heartbreaking to read that she has terminal lung cancer with her cancer being suppressed by a particular drug. At a Support Group for Cancer victims, Hazel meets 17 year old Augustus Waters; handsome, athletic and perfect if you ignore the prosthetic leg his osteosarcoma left him. Together, Hazel and Augustus form an unlikely pair who fall in love and face life's most merciless killer : cancer. Like all good books, this one has a jarring twist that eventually left me sobbing and breathless. 

John Green takes a very realistic approach by baring a truly honest account of cancer stricken children. I found it particularly moving to read about the tangled emotions experienced by the parents, friends and of course the kids themselves. This is not a book about brave battles against cancer, and of survivors. Ultimately, it is a book about death, love and most of all living.

The Fault in Our Stars made me question a lot on the values and priorities we have in life. It's a jolting reminder of how fragile and precious life is. Seeing these very real issues through the eyes of teenagers makes the honesty even more heartbreaking. Throughout the course of the book, I asked myself if I could ever fall for a person who's terminally ill, if I could be as strong if my bright, young child were to be diagnosed with cancer, and would I have been able to make any decision at all if faced with those circumstances. 

The book has been categorized as YA fiction, but I think it's something relevant for adults as well. With characters that will resonate with me for a long time to come, I'm sure I'll be reading this book over and over again. You'll laugh, you'll weep, you'll hurt, but most of all you'll definitely remember Hazel, Gus and everyone so perfectly portrayed in this little book juggling huge issues. 

You have a choice in this world, I believe, about how to tell sad stories, and we made the funny choice 

John Green is a wonderful writer. He has the ability to use simple words to express really strong emotions.

" Sometimes people don't understand the promises they're making when they make them " I said. Isaac shot me a look.
" Right, of course. But you keep the promise anyway. That's what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway " 

It looks like 2013 has kicked off on a reasonably good start book-wise, with 2 authors that are new to me ( Jojo Moyes and John Green ) making it onto my list of Must Read authors. Have you read The Fault in Our Stars or are you planning to ? What did you think ? 

You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful 

My Rating : 5 / 5 stars 

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

*Read on the Kindle

Now that sure is a book with a long title ! Upon reading this in a flurry, I found it quaint and charming, yet biting and sarcastic in wit at certain parts. Comprised of an unlikely cast of characters, the story takes wild turns of imagination, with flashbacks of the now 100 year old Allan's life, and what an interesting life indeed. From chance meetings with the President of the USA, Winston Churchill, Stalin and Madam Soong May Ling, you know you're in for a ride.

I've been trying to come up with a proper way to introduce Allan, but words evade me. On the whole, he is quirky, eccentric and has a tendency to make very matter-of-fact statements. There are lots of funny parts in the book because of his affinity for telling the blunt truth.

At one point, the story seemed too ludicrous to be realistic, but for most parts, the main character seemed devoid of all normal emotions, taking things in stride as they came. However, it is this unfeelingness that leads to pretty straightforward observations such as these : 

" Revenge is like politics, one thing always leads to another until bad has become worse, and worse has become worst "

Another interesting point to note is that the book had vague references to history, after all, it is the recount of a 100 year old man's life, so there is bound to be mention of the key events that have happened in the past. It is a cheeky attempt at looking at history in a light hearted manner, but what I liked was the 'alternative' scenarios that the author cleverly included as part of the story.

I'm not sure if this is a book that I will read again, but it wasn't a bad way to kickstart the year.

Rating : 3.5 stars