Have you ever read a book that defies your ability to write a coherent review because ...it leaves you speechless? Yet at the same time with this overwhelming urge to tell everyone you've ever met to go read it right now, at this very minute? Have you read a book that made you laugh, and smile, and sigh, and then towards the end sob uncontrollably, with tears racing down your face and blurring your eyes...yet in a weirdly good painful comforting way that can't quite be described? And crying still five to ten minutes after the last page has been read? That twists and turns inside you and speaks weirdly to your soul? But somehow...you think, I can't tell anyone too much about this book, because it may spoil it? And you are weirdly worried that if people do go out and read it - they won't like it, they won't see what you saw...because your relationship with the book has become personal. The book has somehow worked its way into your heart and is now part of you?
Well...sometimes I think we land on books or pieces of art at just the right moment, and through those works...angels or god or the eternal Something speaks through or maybe just another soul connects with us...connecting us in turn with well so many other souls.
I will share these snippet of a paragraph with you - with no context and no spoilers, except that it is a letter from a fan to the writer of a book they loved:
I want to share more, but it is hard to without sharing the entire book. For even that bit above doesn't quite work if you don't know all that has come before it.
Almost everyone is obsessed with leaving a mark upon the world. Bequeathing a legacy. Outlasting death. We all want to be remembered. I do, too. That's what bothers me most, is being another unremembered casualty in the ancient and inglorious war against disease.
I want to leave a mark.
But Van Houten: The marks humans leave are too often scars. You build a hideous minimall or start a coup or try to become a rock star and you think, "They'll remember me now," but (a) they don't remember you, and (b) all you leave behind are more scars. Your coup becomes a dictatorship. Your minimall becomes a lesion.
On its face this is a story about two kids with cancer falling in love while hunting the answers to a book they love, which ended in the middle of a sentence. They search out those answers from a reclusive writer living in Amsterdam, who has an indescribable fondness for Swedish rap music. And yes, it sounds incredibly sentimental. And no, I'd never would have picked it up if it weren't for [personal profile] green_maia's suggestion that I try it - she sparked my curiousity. If she hadn't I'd never would have read this book and fallen in love with it. You should also know that I rarely cry at books or movies. I did not cry once when I read the Hunger Games trilogy - never known why. So it takes a lot to move me.
Also...plot-wise, the story tends to be predictable in places. I knew what would happen more or less. But in other places it is not predictable at all. It's a philosophical journey of mind and heart. Although that's not quite the right phrase.
I will state it is the best book I've read in five years. Or certainly moved me the most and changed me the most. Can a book change you? I don't know. Or does it just get you in touch with yourself? It made me see things I hadn't realized. And clarified things I had.
Such as it is ridiculous to believe that characters in a novel or tv series live on the writer who created them mind or head. The writer doesn't know what happened to them next. For the writer, those character's stories often stopped at the end of the novel, they don't continue past that. Or the writer doesn't want them to. That what we know of the universe is limited by our own imagination of it.
Yet all of this...sounds so mundane...so not quite right. Which is why I said, the book leaves me speechless. I want to discuss it, but I'm not sure how...without giving too much away, for it works best if you go into it with less information.
The Fault in Our Stars is a beautiful book...about, well, more than you'd think by looking at the description at the AV Club review or my words above. As the AV Club review states - the book should not work, it should fall into the sentimental treacle of a Lifetime movie, but instead it feels like JD Salinger (although I liked it a lot better than Salinger who I think is highly overrated) with a caustic female narrator that rivals Holden Caulfield (I liked her better than Caulfield). Proving that old adage you can't tell a book by its cover to be more than true.