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A well-written novel about the search for hope in a situation which seems to make no sense to anyone with a humane spirit: having cancer when a teenager. The characters are not presented as heroes capable of conquering any obstacle, but as real people, with their weaknesses and their doubts. This makes them much more believable and easy to identify with than if they had been presented in an idealised way. The story is longish, but I think that adds to the length of suffering which comes with cancer. At times, it is hard to hold your tears. I have read reviews that say that this is not a story written with the heart, that the motivation of John Green for writing this book is questionable: I personally do not see that,; I believe that this book has at it’s heart a real concern for the main topic as well as for the presentation of lives shaken by something so big and incomprehensible such as cancer at a young age.

On the other hand, some readers have pointed out that if a teenager is hit by such a catastrophic tragedy, the likelihood of him/her acting as if he/she were Socrates looking at death from a philosophical perspective and with a detailed and, I must say often witty, analysis of the moral and ethical consequences of what destiny has cast upon us is nigh on nought. Does this make the characters ‘not believable’? I would say more, Augustus, not just pretentious by name, though he seems to try to redeem himself and join us earthling patronisingly calling himself ‘Gus’, which reminds me so much of Drop the Dead Donkey, and, in the end, his language is not less ‘arsey’ and fake than the media ‘I’m not here’ bum-wipe of Sir Royston, is not just little believable, but obnoxious, irritating and annoying. I feel I’d like to tell him to shut his trap and start crying, give himself up to despair, act human.

This novel has certainly been a great commercial success, but I wonder how far it has fed off ‘good-ism’ and used a very serious topic to its advantage, and how far the story is really heart-felt. I strongly lean towards the former. I do not feel that there is any clue that Green has put any real emotions in the story, nor that there is any personal connection to its plot and characters…