I have a confession to make. I’m pretty much in love with Augustus Waters which, were he real, would make me a total cougar as, in the book, he’s just seventeen.
I also love everything about the book. Well, pretty much everything, as there are a few things I didn’t like (but we’ll get to those in a minute).
It grabbed me from the first line and held me, quite literally captivated, until the very end (and I had to read the very end at least a dozen times, as it’s just so bloody perfect).
The writing’s stellar. It makes you smile, chuckle, laugh out loud. Makes you love the characters, most of the characters – even Patrick, poor Patrick – pretty much instantly. Even the characters you don’t love instantly – actually downright pretty much dislike instantly, such as Peter – you find yourself stopping and pausing, just to drink in the quality of the writing.
I’ve not enjoyed reading a writer as much as this since Andrew Miller (and, from me, that’s a major compliment; I am definitely in love with Andrew Miller’s writing).
The book deals with some major issues (cancer, death) but in such a charming way. A way that keeps the characters accessible and their viewpoints – and trials – understandable and relatable (even for someone who’s not facing either cancer or death but who does wake up some nights, in a panic, because I fear I’m not doing enough with my one wild and precious life).
It’s a book that celebrates life and love and being good.
It made me happy, even when I was crying sad, sad, tears.
It made me happy because – and, yes, I realise this sounds weird, as he’s a fictional character – I’m so happy people like Augustus Waters exist. Because people like Augustus Waters do indeed exist and it’s one of the first books I’ve read that champions people like him (and Hazel Grace). Intelligent, smart, inherently good and kind human beings.
Yeah, bad things happen in the book but, you know, we get a glimpse of the characters’ humanity and that glimpse – it made me feel hope, feel hopeful, and there’s not many fiction books that do that nowadays.
I even felt hopeful for Peter, despite initially despising him (when he was first presented ‘in the flesh’, as it were). Somehow, you just know his world’s going to be turned around after meeting Augustus and Hazel Grace and that just gives you, the reader, even more hope.
I can’t stress how much I loved this book.
Go and buy it as soon as you can and read it as fast as you humanly can (it won’t be that fast, as you will want to stop, often, and savour the words). [It’s worth the cost of the book just to read the line from Michael, Hazel’s father, which will grab you, haunt you and not let you go].
[Note: I’d seen the film before I read the book – I was put off the book by all the hype surrounding it, thinking it was one of those books that had great marketing but little substance. It’s one of those instances where the film is as good as the book and you won’t regret reading the book if you’ve already seen the film: the hype is backed up by a great deal of substance!].