Ever since I’ve delved into stories, in the form of video games, movies, books and songs, I’ve had a great disposition towards stories which are real, deep and heartfelt. There is a lot of variation in the presentation of stories in all the mediums; but the emptions, or what the story makes you feel when presented to you remains constant. If a story is well executed, it will make you feel things. Make you cry, or cracking up with laughter, or put you in a deep state of thought. It could be a movie, a video game, a song or a book.
Like I said, I have a soft spot for stories which are real, deep and heartfelt. These are often stories which revolve around characters. Show them growing, having beautiful interactions. Movies about human will and love, and which tear you up or leave you with a single tear at its sheer beauty. I haven’t been able to put it exactly. But stories which leave a deep impact on you, especially emotionally.
The Last of Us in video gaming. That game is a masterpiece. I have played over 200 games by now, from 2005, on the Gameboy, Gamecube, PSP, PC and PS3. Never have I ever played a game remotely like The Last of Us. Its story, its direction, its execution. I remember applauding and having a single tear at the corner of my eye when I ended this game. Naughty Dog (the developers of The Last of Us) managed to make a game and redefine what a game could make you feel. Never before had a game left such a deep and lasting impact on me.
Movies like Good Will Hunting, Wall-E, Filmistaan, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Up in the Air, Dil Dhadakne Do, Piku, This is Where I Leave You have drawn and mesmerised me. They are beautiful films with stories about the human condition; with amazing character development and inspiring or amazingly emotional dimensions.
These movies are amazing. However my disposition for story has often lead me to alienate various other fantastic movies. Which may have amazing direction or cinematography but not so great in story, such as Gladiator, Zootopia to name a few.
In terms of books, there are only two. Two books, which have stories so powerful, so impacting, you felt for their characters and were as much a part of their problems as they were. I’ve mentioned this in a number of articles. One if A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. The second one is The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green.
I’ve mentioned in various articles before how much I love this book and the bar at which I keep it. It’s a beautiful book.
At its basest, The Fault in Our Stars is a tale about life, not cancer. It uses the background of people with cancer to shed light about life. It talks of such vivid and real concepts and describes them perfectly. “Funerals are for the living”, “Depression is not a side effect of dying. It’s a side effect of cancer”, “Pain demand to be felt”, “I’m on a rollercoaster that only goes UP”.
I cannot describe how much a lot of these quotes and concepts have impacted me. I remember, me reading to my friend (now my girlfriend) and she reading me back our favourite verses from The Fault in Our Stars. It was a beautiful talk.
Then there are the characters. The book has two types of characters: those with cancer and those without. Most of the characters without cancer are in some way related to the characters with cancer. The characters are real, their sufferings as real and painful and heartfelt as those with cancer. All the characters, with and without cancer are all reeling from the side effects of life. John Green beautifully explains that with every sentence.
Hazel’s mother was one of my favourite characters in the story. Her character was powerful. A parent whose child has cancer and she knows her child will most probably kick it from cancer. She embraces it and chooses one of the most beautiful, poignant way of reacting to it. Even though that particular dialogue is never given that much attention whenever we talk about this books greatest scenes, it is exceptionally moving and powerful.
The Fault in Our Stars also does something which happens rarely in the world. It talks about people with a disease like normal people. Not people who are less than anyone because of a disease or deserve our pity.
At the same time, it’s not a preach about cancer. It’s simply a story about people, with cancer.
The emotions of this book are very well written and powerful to say the least. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. I know a lot of friends who’ve cried at this book, who’ve sat thinking about their own feeling, while or after reading it.
I feel the same intensity of emotions on each of my five reads of this book.
While there are a lot of heavy memories for this book, there are also a lot of lighter ones associated with it. While also being one of the most emotionally intense stories, it is also one of the funniest and hilarious ever. A lot of the humor comes from Gus, with his combination of wit, spontaneity and word play. This doesn’t mean other characters don’t have their moments. They all get their moments to shine comically.
I laughed and I chuckled and I giggled a lot of the time reading The Fault in Our Stars. The Fault in Our Stars even doesn’t cheapen humor or depreciate it as a place holder or make it feel inappropriate or sheepish, which most modern stories tend towards. It has the best use of humor I have ever seen in a book. It made me laugh even at the most intense of moments without undermining the emotions or the laughter. The humor worked very organically.
With its combination of emotion, humor, reality, life and characters, The Fault in Our Stars stands as one of the most complete novels of this decade. It has a delicate sensitivity towards cancer; never mocking, caricaturing or exaggerating it.
It is a book everyone must read once in their life.
Now, most people will disagree with my next few words. Because we often reserve this word for movies, or games or novels or songs which are revolutionary, defining, usually epic in nature. Words we don’t often associate with Young Adult Fiction. We’ve used this word for The Godfather, The Empire Strikes Back, The Last of Us, Uncharted 2, and Half Life 2. The Fault in Our Stars is a masterpiece.
I’ve had this post pent up in me since the day I revived this blog in 2016. This is the Book Recommendation I have wanted to write since the beginning, and I’ve finally found the impetus to do so after watching the terrible movie adaptation( Lol!).
But this book is amazing. Absolutely amazing. I hope all my feelings regarding this book have been properly conveyed to everyone reading this article. This one, and this book, are close to the heart.