I didn’t *love* Will Grayson, Will Grayson, a collaboration between John Green and David Levitan, I liked Green’s portion enough to be willing to try something else he’s written. Yes, yes, he’s apparently a Big Deal in YA but I’m fairly disconnected from YA and also from a lot of other genre fiction. His new book is The Fault in Our Stars.
It made me cry.
I seldom cry.
And I could not tell you when a book (or film) last made me cry or even feel a little misty-eyed.
Hazel Grace is a sympathetic narrator: she has accepted that she’s living on borrowed time* and even though she recognizes the unfairness and gets angry, she just keeps living. Community college, favorite TV shows, keeping up an awkward friendship with an ex-classmate, going to Support Group. She’s smart and snarky and a little bit unbelievably mature and verbose for her age, but still a great character.
And then there is Augustus Waters. He steals the book from her. Also smart and quirky and funny and an utter boy (although also a little too mature and well-spoken for his age, but forgiveably so).
While there is a very tender (and sexy) love story in TFiOS, this is absolutely not genre romance. There is no HEA; Grace reminds readers constantly by her very presence and the medical equipment she drags along behind her that there will be no ever after.
I’m not entirely certain what to think of the drunken, reclusive author who has a major role but only a small speaking part in the book. He’s a monumental jerk to Hazel and Augustus, but he also highlights the end point and limitation of works of fiction. Because fiction isn’t real, and even though a reader can imagine “what happens next”, it’s the author’s prerogative to write (or not) whatever the next is. And in his case, there was no next, despite how his opus ended.
In his author note at the outset of the book, Green warns readers not to read his personal life into the book, which I have not done. But the fiction within the fiction made me wonder about Green’s position on fan fiction and its role in his popularity (or not).
*In this, she reminds me of Cazaril in The Curse of Chalion, who when reminded by another character that he was carrying a demon within and would likely die soon, remarked that this made him no different than anyone else since life was uncertain and they could all die at anytime, his death was just a little sooner and more likely than those around him.