I am so spoilt for choices to add some awesome quotes for the epigraph. But without a doubt, I have posted my most favourite dialogue of this book. Now, before I write the book review of The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, I would like to recollect the previous romantic book that has been heart touching. Of course, I have read a few books by Nicholas Sparks and Cecelia Ahern. So I know what is to be expected from this book. But this book has been anything but close to my expectations. Instead, it has exceeded them to a certain level. The book, like the few romance novels that I have come across, is based on the love story of two terminally ill star-crossed lovers.
Plot: The protagonist of this novel is a lung cancer struck teenage girl Hazel Lancaster. She is compelled and cajoled by her mother to attend The Support Group that is specially made up of other cancer-stricken members where they talk about themselves and share their stories with the rest of the group. Her favourite pastime is to watch America’s Next Top Model on TV or read and reread a novel named An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten. She has this tube kind of thing attached in her nostrils that supply her lungs with the oxygen through an oxygen cylinder that she carries along with her like a backpack. It is here where she meets another osteosarcoma cancer patient Augustus Waters through a common friend Isaac. Augustus or Gus (as he is fondly called) is a happy-go-lucky teenager who likes laughing and having fun. (PS. This has no relation between Bollywood movies like Anand and Kal Ho Na Ho)
Augustus befriends Hazel. They talk about their likes and dislikes. He likes playing Counterinsurgency with Isaac or read The Price of Dawn series. Gus involves in healthy flirting with Hazel and their chemistry begins to appear as the book progresses further. Gus pampers Hazel to such an extent that he uses his Genie wish to take Hazel to Amsterdam, Netherlands (to meet Peter Van Houten, the author of An Imperial Affliction)
The meet turns out anything but okay. They fail to convince Van Houten to let them know what happens with the characters of the story after they end. They even suggest him to write a sequel but fail miserably. Gus and Hazel fall in love with each other in spite of knowing the fact that neither of them would survive for long. On return from the Netherlands, Gus admits to Hazel that he has a relapse of cancer and it has turned worse than ever. He also talks of writing his own version of the sequel to An Imperial Affliction before he would die. True to his character of being jolly, he asks his friend Isaac and girlfriend Hazel to prepare a eulogy for him as he wishes to attend his funeral. Isaac narrates his speech to Gus about how he will miss him. Hazel speaks about the regret of not having Gus to deliver a eulogy at her own funeral.
Gus dies within a few days leaving behind his heartbroken family and Hazel to mourn. To her surprise, Hazel finds Peter Van Houten attend Gus’s funeral. He confesses that the protagonist of his novel An Imperial Affliction is based on his own child who died of cancer at the age of eight. He tells her what happens to the characters after the story ends. Meanwhile, Isaac talks to Hazel about Gus writing something for her in his last days. She realizes that the handwritten pages had been posted to Van Houten at the Netherlands. With the help of Van Houten’s assistant, she retrieves the pages wherein Gus has written a eulogy for Hazel, thereby fulfilling her wish.
My Take: Few readers like me have a soft corner for love stories wherein one of the lovers turn out to be terminally ill. The best examples that I can recollect from my reading list are PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern and The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. But this book is unique. The lovers in this book, Gus and Hazel, are terminally ill. They both know that they aren’t going to live for long. Yet they fall in love with each other and enjoy the simple moments of life. This book is not a cliché. The plot is refreshingly different. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry. Above all, it makes you feel ashamed of your wellbeing. It shows how the terminally ill are better heroes than us. In my opinion, it is a must read for the people who fall in love with romantic stories.