I know, I skipped last week because I was traveling. And because this chapter is just horrible.
They finally get to Amsterdam, which should be a cause for celebration but isn’t, because everything there seems to be conspiring to make me hate the Netherlands and everyone who lives there. Words cannot properly describe the level of stupidity and pandering that this chapter reaches, but I promise you, it’s dumber than what you’re imagining.
It’s bad, is what I’m saying.
And the worst part is that there’s so much garbage here, it’s definitely going to have to be split up into 2 chapters. Which means I get to spend twice as much time in this awful place, with these awful people.
It’s going to be a rough one, folks. If you thought last time was bad . . . you’re right, but this still sucks and I don’t wanna do it.
Okay, enough procrastinating with gifs. Let’s get this over with.
So we touch down in Amsterdam—finally—and immediately find a cab, because that’s convenient. (Though to be fair, having to sit through 20 pages of “we couldn’t find a cab and it somehow symbolizes my deep inner struggles” would’ve been worse.) And the cabbie is a delight:
“You are Americans?”
“Yes,” Mom said. “We’re from Indiana.”
“Indiana,” he said. “They steal the land from the Indians and leave the name, yes?”
Who on earth says something like that? Are the Dutch just rude people with no sense of boundaries, or has this guy had a really bad day?
Apparently neither, because no one else seems to think it’s odd. To be fair, it sounds exactly like something anyone else in the book would say, so I guess it makes sense that they’d be cool with it. I’d complain about how Green couldn’t write a unique voice if his life depended on it, but . . . wait, I just did.
We drove over a canal and from atop the bridge I could see dozens of houseboats moored along the water. It looked nothing like America. It looked like an old painting, but real—everything achingly idyllic in the morning light—
Wow, that’s quite a beautiful description. Maybe I was wrong, and Sunshine will absorb the culture and history of Amsterdam enough to have a new understanding of and appreciation for the world, and . . .
and I thought about how wonderfully strange it would be to live in a place where almost everything had been built by the dead.
Well. That was creepy and morbid. Let’s just pretend she didn’t say that and keep going, because when she gets all attention-seeky like this, it’s best to ignore her.
Besides, we have another gem from the most philosophical cabbie ever:
“Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.”
Doesn’t that sound exactly like something Mr. Psycho would say? No, really, try this:
Works perfectly, doesn’t it? Apparently this guy is just driving taxis to pay for his doctorate in bullshit.
They get to their hotel, the . . . Hotel Filosoof — wait, there’s no way that’s a real place, is it? Turns out it is, although it’s actually called Hotel De Filosoof. But that’s okay, Green; you have a net worth of $5 million, you just sit back and let lesser authors do that pesky “research” thing.
Speaking of research, turns out that hotel offers a package called the “TFIOS Experience.” Errybody wants that sweet Green green.
On the desk we found a wicker basket full of presents from the Genies: wooden shoes, an orange Holland T-shirt, chocolates, and various other goodies.
Genies went all-out, didn’t they? You’d think the 3-day trip, 2 extra guests, and a stay in a hotel in the heart of the city would be more than enough expense, but I guess these guys just had cash to burn and said, “Hell, everyone likes wooden shoes, right?”
Sunshine passes out, and when she comes to her mom is just sitting there, reading. (Mr. Psycho, who has his own room on a completely different floor, apparently has been twiddling his thumbs or buying hookers for the last several hours. We don’t know, and no one cares.)
“Mom,” I said, “you didn’t have to stay here.”
She shrugged. “I know. I wanted to. I like watching you sleep.”
Also, it can’t be fun to wander the city by yourself. Though it seems that’s just what she’ll be doing, because our breeding pair have a date:
“Yes without me. In fact, you have reservations at a place called Oranjee,” she said. “Mr. Van Houten’s assistant set it up. It’s in this neighborhood called the Jordaan. Very fancy, according to the guidebook. There’s a tram station right around the corner. Augustus has directions. You can eat outside, watch the boats go by. It’ll be lovely. Very romantic.”
That’ll be an uncomfortable evening. Speaking of things that make me squirm, is anyone a little weirded out that her mom seems to be trying to get Hazel laid?
Oh, so Sunshine recognizes it’s creepy, too. That makes me feel better.
“I’m just saying,” she said. “You should get dressed. The sundress, maybe?”
Moms: Please don’t suggest clothes that you believe will make your daughter most bangable. It’s icky.
One might marvel at the insanity of the situation: A mother sends her sixteen-year-old daughter alone with a seventeen-year-old boy out into a foreign city famous for its permissiveness. But this, too, was a side effect of dying: I could not run or dance or eat foods rich in nitrogen, but in the city of freedom, I was among the most liberated of its residents.
Yes, I am marveling at the fact that your mom seems to be pimping out her daughter, but I’m also a little surprised that you haven’t told her what went down with Gus — which would keep her from constantly trying to get you alone together. Maybe I’m just close to my mother, but that’d be the first thing I’d mention, partly because I’d like some advice and partly so that she’d avoid situations like this, which can only be awkward for everyone involved.
And wait, I thought the only reason Sunshine could come to Amsterdam was because her mom would be there the entire time to make sure she’s okay. Isn’t leaving her without an adult in the middle of a strange city the exact opposite of that?
Well, since she’s basically already told Mr. Psycho that she doesn’t want anything to do with him, I’m sure Sunshine won’t go out of her way to look sexually appealing or —
I did indeed wear the sundress—this blue print, flowey knee-length Forever 21 thing—with tights and Mary Janes because I liked being quite a lot shorter than him. I went into the hilariously tiny bathroom and battled my bedhead for a while until everything looked suitably mid-2000s Natalie Portman.
Are you into this guy or not? Why don’t you want to go on this date less, considering how weird it should be? Seriously, this subplot is giving me whiplash. Stop Ross-and-Rachel-ing it when we all know you’re going to get together. It just wastes time!
You’d think that this would be a good time for Sunshine to monologue a bit as she gets herself ready, let the reader dive into her thoughts about whether she likes Gus and what she plans to do about it. You know, maybe find some semblance of logic in her bipolar behavior? But nope! It’s date time:
“Hello?” I said through the door. There was no peephole at the Hotel Filosoof.
“Okay,” Augustus answered. I could hear the cigarette in his mouth.
All we needed was a “Hazel Grace” to make this Mr. Psycho’s Greatest Hits.
I looked down at myself. The sundress offered the most in the way of my rib cage and collarbone that Augustus had seen. It wasn’t obscene or anything, but it was as close as I ever got to showing some skin. (My mother had a motto on this front that I agreed with: “Lancasters don’t bare midriffs.”)
Well, it just became 10 times creepier that she wanted you to wear it so badly.
I also appreciate that bit about how she’s too good to show her midriff or skin in general — not because she’s self-conscious about her body, but because she just doesn’t do it. Slut-shaming is fun because it makes you feel better than others! 😀
Please. Like Sunshine needed another way in which to be superior.
I pulled the door open. Augustus wore a black suit, narrow lapels, perfectly tailored, over a light blue dress shirt and a thin black tie. A cigarette dangled from the unsmiling corner of his mouth. “Hazel Grace,” he said, “you look gorgeous.”
Aaaaaand that’s Bingo! This guy’s almost a parody of himself at this point. Does anyone take that cigarette thing seriously? I think after a half-dozen times of him doing it, I’d just start slapping it out of his mouth and telling him to stop being such a pretentious ass.
Who cares? It’s time for their night on the town and oh boy is it magical!
As we walked through the crowded tram, an old man stood up to give us seats together, and I tried to tell him to sit, but he gestured toward the seat insistently.
And now we’re starting to reach the part of this chapter I hate the most: these 2 are so special that literally everyone goes out of their way to show them how special they are. We’re just warming up with the old-guy-giving-up-his-seats, and I can even be generous and assume it’s because of the oxygen tank (though did Gus really need a seat, too? Can’t he stand over her instead of making the geriatric do it?), but believe me when I say it gets much, much worse.
No, that’d be awesome. Though it is disturbing how similar they are, minus the self-awareness.
The hostess’s eyes lit up as Augustus and I walked toward her.
Either she was told that two teenagers, one with a limp and one with an oxygen tank, would have a table (which is a weirdly specific and unnecessary thing to point out, considering it was set up by Van Houten’s assistant who doesn’t know the specific circumstances of their cancers or appearances) and she’s weirdly happy about it, or they’re so beautiful that she immediately recognizes them, because who else could have made that reservation?
“Mr. and Mrs. Waters?”
Ew! Van Houten had to give the restaurant that name, and since he knows that they’re not in a relationship together, treating them like they’re married seems like he’s intentionally putting pressure on her to fall in love with him . . . which is terrible. Gus doesn’t seem surprised by this address, so it’s possible he’s in on it, which is even worse. What is with all these adults trying to push these kids together? And how can Mr. Psycho be “in love” with Sunshine and support this kind of behavior?
“I guess?” I said.
That is not the correct response. (For a better one, please see any of the gifs above.)
“Your table,” she said, gesturing across the street to a narrow table inches from the canal. “The champagne is our gift.”
Of course it is. Because they’re so magical and perfect and blah blah blah I’m going to go watch something else, bye.
Soothing, isn’t it? Let’s just listen to this 17,000 times instead of reading any more of this stupid, obnoxious —
There’s a long description of the scenery and then they finally sit down and will hopefully have some meaningful conversation:
“Okay,” he said.
“Okay,” I said, and we clinked glasses.
You tried, Green.
Hold on . . . if this is their “always” — which basically means their “I love you” — why does she keep saying it back to him? Does she love him or doesn’t she? In fact, why isn’t this scene a lot more uncomfortable than it is, considering the last time they spoke she rejected his proclamation of love? I’d kill for some consistency here.
I took a sip. The tiny bubbles melted in my mouth and journeyed northward into my brain. Sweet. Crisp. Delicious. “That is really good,” I said. “I’ve never drunk champagne.”
That’s not how you respond to your first taste of alcohol, especially when it’s champagne. I’d buy it if this was a wine cooler or a daiquiri or something, but champagne?
It’s dinner time! (For these guys. I decided to wait to eat until I finished this post because I’m a frigging moron.) The waiter shows up and says some stupid crap that sounds exactly like the other stupid crap every other character says, then takes their order:
“Welcome to Amsterdam. Would you like to see a menu, or will you have the chef’s choice?”
I looked at Augustus and he at me. “The chef’s choice sounds lovely, but Hazel is a vegetarian.” I’d mentioned this to Augustus precisely once, on the first day we met.
Well, seeing as that was like a week ago, it’s not that impressive that he remembers. I remember that, and I read that chapter back in November.
“People always get used to beauty, though.”
“I haven’t gotten used to you just yet,” he answered, smiling.
Dude, she turned you down. I know she’s inconsistent, but the only direct response you’ve gotten is a “no,” so back off.
“Thank you for wearing that dress which is like whoa,” he said.
Pick a tone of voice and stick to it, please. When you spout all sorts of philosophical bullshit, coming out with phrases like that just sounds like you got hit on the head or something. You’re a nerdbro, Mr. Psycho, not a frat boy; we’ve come up with these terms to conveniently divide douchebags into their proper niches, so stay on your side.
I shook my head, trying not to smile at him. I didn’t want to be a grenade. But then again, he knew what he was doing, didn’t he? It was his choice, too.
But . . . if you didn’t want to encourage him, why come up with your own version of “always”? Why come to Amsterdam with him? Why agree to go on a date, and then make yourself as sexy as possible (no, forgive me, not sexy because she’s too good for that)? If you’re a grenade, you’re kinda rolling yourself in his direction, aren’t you?
On the other hand, if you love him and are scared, why not just say it? Or is this a bizarre new definition of love where you get all hot and bothered, but don’t trust them enough to be open and honest about how you feel?
We’re way past the word limit and not even halfway through the chapter. Let’s just wrap this up and —
Some people in a lacquered wooden boat approached us on the canal below. One of them, a woman with curly blond hair, maybe thirty, drank from a beer then raised her glass toward us and shouted something.
“We don’t speak Dutch,” Gus shouted back.
One of the others shouted a translation: “The beautiful couple is beautiful.”
Well, what do you say to that? Annoying meme is annoying and dates this book instantly, and . . . are you kidding me?!
I’ll only buy this if the Genies orchestrated all of this because Mr. Psycho is dying and guilted them into it. I refuse to believe this nonsense isn’t staged, because it’s just the worst of all the everything and I’m forgetting how to words because I’m so annoyed and this crap has kept me from my dinner for 2 hours and we’re done. Bye, Green. You’ve beaten me this time, but I’ll be back.