Back in my Kwentong Popular class in College, we were told to give our pitch for a one-hour screenplay as a course requirement. Mine was about “star-crossed lovers,” who could just not become the couple that they were supposed to be because of what I called destiny.
An acquaintance introduced me to star-crossed lovers, and it gave me the thought that simply when a couple could never find the perfect time to be together, that is, when the female is single and the male is in a relationship or when both are single, but one should leave to pursue a career or has other priorities in mind, we could simply put the blame on the ever-fond destiny. I never resented my professor for telling me that that was not Destiny at work on the failure of the supposed-relationship. They, my/the fictional characters, are given the power, but they choose to not do anything about it, thus blaming it on the stars.
Needless to say, I was told by my professor that what I wanted was a false conflict and that, I should “Drop dead, ghurl.”
Naturally, John Green’s fourth solo novel, The Fault in Our Stars, reminded me of this fond University experience. I initially thought that I may have finally found [Don’t sing.] the heart-wrenching story that we could only blame on the stupid stars for not crossing right.
For the first time, John Green writes in the perspective of a girl, Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 16 year old girl who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when she was 13. I was rather excited to know how Green will place himself in the boots of a girl who has her days numbered. Then, we meet the most bankable [WHAT, Tin.] fictional 17-year-old character, Augustus Waters. You do know that I have this tendency to propose marriage to fictional characters. I may have asked Percy Jackson to propagate seaweed brains with me, but Gus is the real deal. He is gorgeous, witty, a nerd of video games, reads books, and, man, he is smarter than me.
Augustus probably speaks wiser than his biological age, and some may have raised their brows at this, but you see, John Green likes writing about smart people and it is one thing that I realized that what I liked him. It gives me the hope [Dear gods, hope and not just illusion] that teenagers still want to prove the world that they are not dumb as we thought of them!
“Right, that’s why I said tomorrow,” he said. “I want to see you again tonight. But I’m willing to wait all night and much of tomorrow.” I rolled my eyes. “I’m serious,” he said.
John Green has the ability to make the reader invest in his characters. This maybe his most ambitious novel to date. Not only did he write in a perspective of a girl, but also, he dealt with characters afflicted by Cancer. I may not be the best person to judge if his attempts to mirror the life of a teenager dealing with the traitor disease translate to the reality in TFiOS, but I was moved with the way he portrayed Gus in the height of his disease. I could not or did not stop myself from weeping when I saw teenager Gus become the the helpless, humiliated, and desperate character. His happy spirits got sucked from him, and it was, ahhh, sad.
When I got his face nose-touchingly close that I could only see his eyes, I couldn’t tell he was sick. We kissed for a while and then lay together listening to The Hectic Glow’s eponymous album, and eventually we fell asleep like that, a quantum entanglement of tubes and bodies.
Another thing that made me like John Green is how he puts philosophy in his works. Pudge made a mark on me, quite literal and figuratively, because of his desire to seek The Great Perhaps.This makes the fact that he writes about smart people crucial to exploring the human mind and beliefs. I don’t get the hate on Green writing about smart people. Would you rather read a story with non-thinking characters?
Hazel met Gus in her Cancer support group, where he was asked what is his fear. Without missing a beat, he said, he fears oblivion.
“Sure, I fear earthly oblivion. But, I mean, not to sound like my parents, but I believe humans have souls, and I believe in the conservation of souls. The oblivion fear is something else, fear that I won’t be able to give anything in exchange for my life. If you don’t live a life in service of a greater good, you’ve gotta at least die a death on service of a greater good, you know? And I fear that I won’t get either a life or a death that means anything.”
Have you lived enough to be remembered?
“All salvation is temporary,” Augustus shot back. “I bought them a minute that buys them an hour, which is the hour that buys them a year. No one’s gonna buy them forever, Hazel Grace, but my life bought them a minute. And that’s not nothing.”
It was amazing to read through thoughts of teenagers bent on unraveling the intricacies of Life and Death. Their days were numbered. Hazel would not be alive except for the fictional, miraculous drug of Green’s that she took regularly. They carried around the sign that they have Cancer–Hazel had a tank and Gus had a prosthetic leg. I’d rather say that these characters are not stripped of Life, but rather, the luxury of Time.
My University professor told me to drop dead in class because I accounted the innocent Destiny on my screenplay character’s lack of love, because, really, it was a matter of Choice. In this story of Hazel and Augustus, who were young, very sick, and in love, who do we blame for their tragic love story? For the strain of Time on these amazing, young people bursting with love? Can I finally curse Destiny for making me weep on this sad love story?
Everyone in this tale has a rock-solid hamartia: hers, that she is so sick; yours, that you are so well. Were she better or you sicker, then the stars would not be so terribly crossed, but it is the nature of our stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he had Cassius note, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in out stars / But in ourselves.”
It could have been easy. Hazel could have just cursed the the stars or Cancer for her and Augustus’ ordeals, but what made this story more raw was that, they have chosen to see the world in a much wider perspective. These two people who had every right in the world to be hopeless and be angry for seemingly having been punished, thought, although in a rather jokingly manner, that they could not blame Cancer for this. For, Cancer just wanted to live.
“Just like Pain. It just wants, and demands, to be felt.”
Ridiculous idea, I know, but I found it brave to accept things as they are, to live without finding someone or something to blame our misfortunes for. As Cassius told Brutus, as relayed by Peter Van Houten, and then Hazel Grace and Augustus, fate got nothing to do with this tragedy. But it was the universe’s non-ability to become a wish-granting factory.
We live in a universe devoted to the creation, and the eradication of awareness, Augustus Waters did not die after a lengthy battle with cancer. He died after a lengthy battle with human consciousness, a victim–as you will be–of the universe’s need to make and unmake all that is possible.
“Sometimes it seems the universe wants to be noticed.”
“That’s what I believe. I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it–or my observation of it–is temporary?”
Enough about Sadness. I do not only read Green because he, most of the time, writes sad stories that nurtures the Depressive in Me, but mostly because he always leaves me thinking. There are quite a few authors who have the ability to not only make you feel, but also make you think, and John Green is a favorite.
Other than the big questions about the way I am living my life, my woes, etc. [Believe me, this post is long-ass, but my list can top this] that Green left me after TFiOS, I was also grateful for having been introduced to a story love that was painful, but beautiful.
“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”
“But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”
Thank you, John Green, for this gift.
John Green signed my copy using a blue Sharpie!
This was during the time when he
ran out of green Sharpies, obviously.
Pardon the fan girl in me,
but this made me feel special. I know, I’m OA.