Disclaimer: While this review is highly negative, it is not senseless bashing. It is my honest opinion.
1. I'm sorry, but naming a character Augustus in 2012 is fucking ridiculous. Nicknaming him Gus doesn't solve that problem.
2. And making him speak like Shakespeare's fanboy every second sentence is even more ridiculous.
3. Why do these cancer patients never seem to actually have cancer until it's important to the plot?
4. Sex for the first time for a girl is NOT a calm, quiet, nice thing. It's usually pretty uncomfortable and even painful.
5. Kissing in the Anne Frank house isn't romantic or sweet, it's contrived and inappropriate.
6. Teenagers spouting paragraph-long monologues at the drop of a hat happens in real life exactly never.
7. Love at first sight? That's not cliched at all.
8. I don't think even a book-obsessed cancer patient would go halfway across the world from the comfort of her home just to meet her favorite author.
9. Underage drinking multiple times is something teenagers do, but probably not cancer patients, and it has no impact on the plot.
10. Seriously, this story actually would have been better if neither of the two mains had cancer. Just imagine Augustus getting into a drunk driving accident or something and it'll be pretty much the same story minus a couple dozen pages about actually having terminal cancer.
11. "Have a eulogy ready." Sure is convenient that Hazel's capable of composing a perfect one on the fly when she's certainly tearing up about the inevitability of her boyfriend's death.
12. Also, why? Why do you need a eulogy?
13. The main character Hazel is extremely unlikeable and not very realistic. She speaks nothing like a dying teenager would, and never seems bothered by her illness or the fact that she could die any day. Yeah, maybe she mentions it here and there, but something like that should be, I don't know, the CENTRAL THEME of a book about young people with cancer. On top of spewing pointless and often (in my opinion) very inelegant and meaningless metaphors, she has little personality besides loving Augustus and obsessing over her favorite book. I didn't see a fraction of my teenage self in her, or any other teenager I knew for that matter.
And her cancer isn't actually a very big part of the book. Aside from the beginning and the one time she passes out before heading halfway around the world, it's very glossed over. Considering it's terminal, that's not good. So much for the author trying to help us into the mind of a dying teenager.
So I didn't like Hazel because she's emotionless and tries way too hard to be smart with big words whenever she opens her mouth. That's not too bad, though. I don't like every major MC I see, I didn't like Peeta from THG or Soren from Guardians of Ga'hoole. What about the other main, Mister Augustus?
14. He's even worse! Augustus is even MORE unlikeable than Hazel! His habits of calling Hazel by her first and middle name and dangling a cigarette from his mouth weren't clever or quirky, they were stupid and pointless. He had very little personality, his cancer (which was fatal somehow) had even less bearing on the plot than Hazel's, and his feelings towards Hazel came out of nowhere. I wouldn't want this man within fifty feet of me in the real world, so the fact that every girl younger than me cried at the end of this book really says something about how easy it is to entertain young people.
15. The plot was as contrived as a bad fanfic. Girl has cancer, but she meets the man of her dreams and gets to meet the author she idolizes free of charge, and after the first kiss and sex immediately afterwards it turns out her boyfriend is actually a few weeks from dying because he didn't tell her beforehand (AND NEITHER DID ANY OTHER CHARACTER IN THIS BOOK).
16. The writing without the dialogue and monologues was decent. Simple enough to be read quickly and easily.
17. The dialogue was atrocious. Teenagers and even alcoholic authors do not speak in purple prose. Trying to read it was easily the most annoying part of the entire book and had no bearing on the plot, just the author trying to make his characters seem smart by making them say words with more than two sentences- but injecting enough phrases like "like" and "or whatever" to make them sound like teenagers! Yeah, not exactly accurate, but who needs accuracy when this is clearly a book of wish fulfillment.
18. In short, I almost hated this book. The only things that saved it were decent writing in places, a fairly interesting premise (that was executed terribly) and short length. I forgot a lot of it as soon as I closed it and I don't think I'll ever pick it up again. While this isn't the worst book I've ever read, it is by far the most overrated and overhyped. If this is what's considered award-winning, movie-adaptation-worthy YA literature these days, I'll switch to adult literature the next time I go to the library.
Reviewed by Grizzly Bear