The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: My 3 Realizations and My Top 10 Favorite Quotes

          This is probably one of the last book reviews you'll ever read online about "The Fault In Our Stars" by John Green since many have already read and raved about it.  I was never the one to join any craze or trend so I could easily turn a blind eye even on distinguished "#1 New York Time's Bestseller" books like this.   But, my smart geeky but cool little sister who I avidly admire in literary aspects highly recommended this book so I decided to read it.

        I instantly became hooked just by reading the first line of this book.  It is a very well written.  Although I have poor imagination, the flowery words created beautiful imagery in my mind.  The plot is not only engaging but also meaningful. 

       At first, to be honest, I didn't think I could relate to a story that revolved around two cancer -inflicted kids.  But, I was wrong!  I don't know if it's a good or bad thing...  Although I'm not dying, I'm a lot like Hazel Grace Lancaster who observe, reflect and think deeply about everything around me.  Sometimes, I'm like Augustus Waters as well.  I'd want to believe in anything or "Something" rather than nothing.  I'd also like to stay as positive as I can no matter what.  I'd want to grasp and enjoy everything as much as I could.  I guess you can say I'm an odd mix.  On one side, I'm logical and scientific.  While, on the other side, I'm a person of faith who believes in things not yet proven.  I'm not speaking of just religion but spirituality, morality, spontaneity, miracles, love, life, after-life and everything in the universe that is so awesome that they are beyond our human comprehension.

      For me, what takes this book to another level is the intellectual conversations between the two characters.  They have such a nice tandem in comprehending and understanding each other.  It's not the typical mushy complimentary remarks you encounter in usual romance novels and perhaps even in real life because it comes with depth...   While Augustus Waters is quick to recognize and acknowledge their connection,  Hazel Grace was afraid and fairly in denial as shown by her thoughts that "I didn't think that Gus would...." and realized it only later.   But, as readers from an outside perspective, we could clearly see with their conversations, remarks and witty jokes that only they could understand that they have "Something."

      Like Augustus Waters, I'm not book-smart but I am intellectually-curious.  I'm often silent as I'm saving myself from typical day-to-day worthless chit chats and pointless blabbers.  But, deep inside I'm yearning for someone who I can share deep intellectual conversations with.  It's such a rarity to have someone who I can talk to intellectually and soulfully about anything.  Thus, I value those kind of people a lot.  

So being the deep thinker as I am, I feel that the book speaks to me so  I was able to realize these:

1.   We are all clueless

      Regardless of our physical attributes, age and other circumstances, we, humans, are so much alike more than we can ever imagine.  We are all clueless as to our purpose and reason for living and how death can take us all by surprise.  And perhaps, our part in our universe is way bigger than the tiny speck we really are.  So remember that if you feel lost, everyone else is as lost as you are.  They just don't make a big deal out of it.  You shouldn't too.

2.  We are capable of loving

       Although as the book has stated "The world is not a wish granting factory", we could believe in anything.   Even science cannot ascertain if love is real or not.  And, if we trace back history, it didn't exist in the past.   Yet, we are capable of it.  Love is proven by the fact that we could live our lives as easily, irresponsibly, selfishly and carelessly but we chose to do otherwise.   Surely, love has its blissful times but it comes with hellish times too.  And, many still choose to stick through it even to the point of their deaths.

3. "Being in love" is worth it

      While it is scientifically proven that we are biologically wired to be in love for pro-creation, being in love is still a mysterious phenomenon.  Science claims that an average "in love" phase last up to 2 years.  But, others are capable of prolonging it for the rest of their lives.  What you chose to believe and how you do it is all up to you.  But, one thing is true... "being in love" is worth it even if it's only for a short span of time because it will always leave a mark that we earned and will always carry with us.  Perhaps, the state itself makes time relative and irrelevant that many would not mind risking themselves of being a fool and getting hurt for it.

      This is, of course, my personal opinion. My little sister and I have different views on the matter.  While most people like my little sister have felt sad and even cried for the fate of the star-crossed lovers, I did not feel the same way.

      As I see it, Augustus Waters is more fortunate to have experienced "being in love" momentarily than those who have lived their lives longer but have lacked in that aspect.

       As for Hazel, I'm sure it hurt seeing Augustus turn miserable.  But, there was the fun and interesting part prior to that which made it worth it.  I may sound apathetic but, I could actually relate Hazel's case similar to those who just gone through a break up.  At the beginning of every relationship, everything is so perfect and blissful.  Once we gain consciousness, we see our partner transform into something worse than we could ever imagine and we give up and break up.  But, because we think that it is worth it, we are capable of moving on and once again trying out luck with our next relationship. The only difference is that in Hazel's case, Augustus Waters changed and left involuntarily and not due to the fading of feelings and change of priorities which makes it more difficult to move on from.  While, those who break up made their own choices that lead to their parting so its easier to deal with the fact that it was over.  In fact, before it gets really bad and violent, we can already put it on an end just by breaking up so we can save the good memories as we walk away.

My Top 10 Favorite Quotes
The basis of my realizations are mostly from my favorite quotes (apart from those included in the letter below)

1. Oh, I wouldn't mind Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to my heart broken by you

2.  There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There's .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. 

3.  That's the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.
4. But it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he has Cassius note, The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves that we are underlings

5. Some people don't understand the promises they're making when they make them 

6. Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.

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

8. Pain is like fabric: The stronger it is, the more it's worth

9. Our fearlessness shall be our secret weapon.

10. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it.

Augustus Letter to Van Houten
This is the most touching and beautiful part of the book for me.  It is a letter Augustus sent to Van Houten (which he could have sent directly to Hazel if only he only recognized that love itself is a verb or an expression that transcends beyond language.  But, understandly,  it is also love that can make us insecure at times.  It messes up our mind and heightens our emotions and push us towards irrationality because we feel that our loved ones are so special that they deserve nothing less than the best).  Underlined are my own personal favorites lines...
Van Houten,

I’m a good person but a shitty writer. You’re a shitty person but a good writer. We’d make a good team. I don’t want to ask you any favors, but if you have time – and from what I saw, you have plenty – I was wondering if you could write a eulogy for Hazel. I’ve got notes and everything, but if you could just make it into a coherent whole or whatever? Or even just tell me what I should say differently.

Here’s the thing about Hazel: Almost everyone is obsessed with leaving a mark upon the world. Bequeathing a legacy. Outlasting death. We all want to be remembered. I do, too. That’s what bothers me most, is being another unremembered casualty in the ancient and inglorious war against disease.

I want to leave a mark.

But Van Houten: The marks humans leave are too often scars. You build a hideous minimall or start a coup or try to become a rock star and you think, “They’ll remember me now,” but (a) they don’t remember you, and (b) all you leave behind are more scars. Your coup becomes a dictatorship. Your minimall becomes a lesion.

(Okay, maybe I’m not such a shitty writer. But I can’t pull my ideas together, Van Houten. My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations.)

We are like a bunch of dogs squirting on fire hydrants. We poison the groundwater with our toxic piss, marking everything MINE in a ridiculous attempt to survive our deaths. I can’t stop pissing on fire hydrants. I know it’s silly and useless – epically useless in my current state – but I am an animal like any other.

Hazel is different. She walks lightly, old man. She walks lightly upon the earth. Hazel knows the truth: We’re as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it, and we’re not likely to do either.

People will say it’s sad that she leaves a lesser scar, that fewer remember her, that she was loved deeply but not widely. But it’s not sad, Van Houten. It’s triumphant. It’s heroic. Isn’t that the real heroism? Like the doctors say: First, do no harm.

The real heroes anyway aren’t the people doing things; the real heroes are the people NOTICING things, paying attention. The guy who invented the smallpox vaccine didn’t actually invented anything. He just noticed that people with cowpox didn’t get smallpox.

After my PET scan lit up, I snuck into the ICU and saw her while she was unconscious. I just walked in behind a nurse with a badge and I got to sit next to her for like ten minutes before I got caught. I really thought she was going to die, too. It was brutal: the incessant mechanized haranguing of intensive care. She had this dark cancer water dripping out of her chest. Eyes closed. Intubated. But her hand was still her hand, still warm and the nails painted this almost black dark blue and I just held her hand and tried to imagine the world without us and for about one second I was a good enough person to hope she died so she would never know that I was going, too. But then I wanted more time so we could fall in love. I got my wish, I suppose. I left my scar.

A nurse guy came in and told me I had to leave, that visitors weren’t allowed, and I asked if she was doing okay, and the guy said, “She’s still taking on water.” A desert blessing, an ocean curse.
What else? She is so beautiful. You don’t get tired of looking at her. You never worry if she is 
smarter than you: You know she is. She is funny without ever being mean. I love her. I am so lucky to love her, Van Houten. You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.

         What makes this letter beautiful and sweet is how an ordinary boy like Augustus saw something special in an ordinary girl like HazelAugustus classified people based on their goal in life: (1) to leave a mark or a legacy or (2) to observe and appreciate it.  He really viewed their difference in positive outlook  when he could have done so otherwise.  Like if Hazel doesn't want to contribute to the world like most people, he could have viewed her as a selfish person or a useless being with borrowed time or even something worse.  But instead, he was able to enter her perspective and see it as something wonderful.  So the way I see it, everyone is ordinary, despite the looks, wits, similarities or difference.  And, then love mysteriously comes along and lends as an insight that makes someone (their whole humanity including their flaws) special. I mean seriously, if this was written by someone other than Augustus, Hazel would not have been beautified in such a remarkable way.

        I also liked that last lines.  When you think about it, it sounds a bit irrational and masochistic isn't it? But, it's true... Choosing to expose ourselves, overriding our fears and instinct for self-protection and making ourselves vulnerable to pain is one of the mysterious and ironic aspect of love.  Where's the irony you might ask?  Well, it's a choice (implying a voluntariness) but in reality, it hardly makes sense and is mostly baseless and illogical.  It is so illogical that some find it difficult to accept when they end up with pain and regrets.  But, there are lucky ones like Augustus who like their choices regardless of the outcome. I'd like to believe I'm like Augustus. =)   I take my time with my choices.  But unlike many who have a lot to consider (their age and other social factors), I only have one consideration: to be convinced that I'm his best option. 

*I dedicate this post to my friend Wayne, who like Augustus Waters, died of Leukemia at the age of 15.