Cover to Cover: The Fault in Our Stars, Ch. 14 Part 2

It’s time for Cover to Cover: Let’s See if Anything Actually Happens This Time Edition!

Not likely, I know.
Not likely, I know.

Last week was nothing. Literally there were no interesting plot developments, character growth, or impromptu dance numbers from beginning to end, and it was only with the help of a lovely woman named Katie that I managed to get through it at all.

It was boring, is what I’m trying to say.

Luckily this time stuff . . . happens? I think? It’s kinda hard to tell with this novel, but I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to consider the second half of this chapter an entertaining and hilarious diversion.

Shut up, we have to do this.
This more accurately sums it up.

WAIT! Before we begin, I must admit a few things that I — and more importantly, John Green — was wrong about. Apparently he knows about as much about flying as he does about video games and not desecrating monuments to the dead, because I got a message from Some Guy on Facebook (yes, that’s his real name), who was less than pleased with the chapter:

Things I did not know for $200, Alex.
Things I did not know for $200, Alex.

Thanks, Some Guy! (Seriously, Matt studied Aviation Management with Flight, whatever the hell that means. He’s a smarty, and I always welcome a chance to point out ways in which Green fails as a person.)

Anyway, Katie and I last left our lovebirds sitting around with Isaac, doing — you guessed it! — nothing.

bored

The adults headed down to the basement to commiserate or whatever

Sure, just assume they’re being self-pitying. Because as we all know, parents of children with cancer are so needlessly melodramatic and selfish.

Augustus turned his head to us, the waking up slow. “How’s Monica?” he asked.

What about asking how Isaac is, dude? He lost his vision, and all you can think of is to bring up the girl who dumped him as a reminder that oh yeah, that’s another thing he doesn’t have!

Insensitive douche.

up yours

Turns out Monica hasn’t spoken with Isaac. As someone who broke up with a significant other for emotional-health reasons, I really sympathize with her. When a relationship’s ending isn’t mutual (or amicable), the best thing to do is cut off all communication; otherwise, it’s like you’re rubbing it in their face that you’re not in their life the way they want you to be.

“Being friends” is one of those concepts that really only works if you were friends before, the breakup was something you both agreed on, and/or you’re a masochist who wants the heartbreak to be drawn out for as long as humanly possible. It’s kinder to just end things completely, like ripping off a Band-Aid.

“She hasn’t even, like, texted you to ask how you’re doing?” I asked. This struck me as an unfathomable injustice.

“Total radio silence,” Isaac said.

“Ridiculous,” I said.

Or not.

. . . oh
Never mind then.

“I’ve stopped thinking about it. I don’t have time to have a girlfriend. I have like a full-time job Learning How to Be Blind.”

You know, that’s a rather mature way to look at it . . . surprising coming from Isaac, but maybe losing his vision gave him a new perspective on things. A new way of seeing, if you will.

can't say that
Somehow I think I’m going to get a lot of mileage out of this gif.

But okay, this makes sense. I guess the best thing to do would be to stop thinking about it, let Isaac move on at his own pace, and spare his feelings by not fixating on it like a dog worrying a bone for your own selfish sense of justice.

Then out of nowhere Augustus said, “You can’t just not contact your former boyfriend after his eyes get cut out of his freaking head.”

Okay, let me lay a little truth down for you idiots, from my disastrous love life to yours: it would be cruel to contact Isaac immediately after losing his eyes. All it would accomplish is giving him false hope that you’ve suddenly fallen back in love with him, only to have it crushed by the reminder that nope, you really don’t want to get back together. Maybe she could have the family send a sympathy card, but nothing else. Let the poor kids get on with their lives.

“Just one of—” Isaac started.

“Hazel Grace, do you have four dollars?” asked Gus.

eye roll sigh

Oh dear.

This is . . . The Egg Scene. It’s not as infamous as the Anne Frank Scene for obvious reasons, but it’s one of those times we realize that Gus is basically just human garbage, and in fact hearing Katie rant about it was the reason I contacted her in the first place.

You see, he decides that it’s in Isaac’s best interest to go egg his ex-girlfriend’s house.

Yes, despite the fact that Isaac seems more or less over Monica, despite the fact that it’s a crime, and that it’ll only serve to make Isaac (not Sunshine or Mr. Psycho) look bad in the eyes of everyone with a brain, Gus just feels too gosh-darn frustrated that justice hasn’t been served to this high-school girl who’s done nothing actually wrong.

None of this has anything to do with Isaac, what he wants, how he feels. It’s all part of Mr. Psycho’s hero complex, a desperately selfish last-ditch attempt to do something that’ll make him feel important, even if that “something” is terrible.

He’s a bad person, is what I’m getting at here.

stephen-colbert-angry

Well, it’s off to commit vandalism! Let’s go!

I drove. Augustus rode shotgun. Isaac sat in the back. We stopped at a grocery store, where, per Augustus’s instruction, I bought a dozen eggs while he and Isaac waited in the car.

Did you tell your parents where you went? Because I don’t think they’d be cool with their blind, crippled, oxygen-toting children disappearing in the middle of the night without a word.

It is another testament to how adults only exist in this story to serve the teens’ needs (except for when an adult is meant to outright cause a snafu or wreak havoc, which is then purely for plot advancement). This book repeatedly balks at realism time and time again. In Green’s world, sick teens are free to run amok while the parents are suspiciously missing. They’re encouraged to do things that would jeopardize people’s jobs (Stupid Stewardness) or commit crimes (the egging).

And then Isaac guided us by his memory to Monica’s house, an aggressively sterile, twostory house near the JCC.

Wait . . . the house is like her! Because she’s a terrible person we’re supposed to hate! She’s a sterile, cold-hearted bitch, and her house reflects that! It’s a metaphor!

I don't know if you guys would've gotten it, because it's so subtle.
I wasn’t sure you guys would get it, because it’s so subtle.

Monica’s bright green 1990s Pontiac Firebird sat fat-wheeled in the driveway.

“Is it there?” Isaac asked when he felt me coming to a stop.

“Oh, it’s there,” Augustus said. “You know what it looks like, Isaac? It looks like all the hopes we were foolish to hope.”

It looks like a goddamn car. Stop being a tool.

A . . . pretty badass car, actually. Now I want them to egg it even less.
A . . . pretty badass car, actually. Now I want them to egg it even less, though if she parks like that I might have to give permission.

“So she’s inside?”

Gus turned his head around slowly to look at Isaac. “Who cares where she is? This is not about her. This is about you.”

No, it’s about you, but close enough.

Anyway, they egg the car, a scene that wouldn’t be bad if it weren’t so awful. There’s even a decent line:

I watched through the mirror as Gus helped Isaac out of the car, the two of them leaning on each other at the shoulder then tapering away, like praying hands that don’t quite meet at the palms.

See? That’s kinda nice. A little poetic, not too hamfisted. Solid writing, Green.

Now if only we could get rid of all of . . . this.

Yes. Yes I did.
Yes. Yes I did.

I rolled down the windows and watched from the car, because vandalism made me nervous.

At least she knows it’s illegal. No word on its moral wrongness, however, so no points. How does anyone think this is a good idea?

Many people who eat up this book seem to like to cheer for the underdog (even when it is outlandish). What is a better underdog than a cancer kid? (In this case, three of them!) This is why people cheered at this scene in the theatre and why people mentally think “YES” when reading this scene; classic teenage hijinks meets cancer kids. It’s the perfect recipe to celebrate. No adult will stand in their way! Hoo-ray!

Now I understand! Wow, this is such a fabulous scene that’s so easy to relate to!

Oh, who am I kidding?

it's a mess

They take a picture to capture this charming moment . . . because they apparently have no comprehension of what “incriminating evidence” means, but are interrupted by the appearance of Monica’s mother.

“What,” asked the middle-aged woman a moment after I’d snapped the picture, “in God’s name—” and then she stopped talking.

“Ma’am,” Augustus said, nodding toward her, “your daughter’s car has just been deservedly egged by a blind man. Please close the door and go back inside or we’ll be forced to call the police.” After wavering for a moment, Monica’s mom closed the door and disappeared.

To call the police, right? I’m assuming that’s where she went, because this is illegal and no amount of Mr. Psycho’s blathering makes it okay.

What did Monica’s family members ever do to any of them? They egg Monica’s car because she got out of the relationship, and they’re going to punish her poor parents and damage their property? Are they total narcissists?

girls_shosh_narcisist
Yes. That’s actually come up before.

Isaac threw the last three eggs in quick succession and Gus then guided him back toward the car. “See, Isaac, if you just take—we’re coming to the curb now—the feeling of legitimacy away from them, if you turn it around so they feel like they are committing a crime by watching—a few more steps—their cars get egged, they’ll be confused and scared and worried and they’ll just return to their—you’ll find the door handle directly in front of you—quietly desperate lives.”

I love how they judge other people as inferior, and then turn around and whine about how much it pisses them off when others might be judging them.

WPrSv

I don’t really blame Isaac. He’s just gone through the worst surgery of his life, he lost one of his senses, and he is the one being egged on by two completely demented rabblerousers. I love how Gus threatened Monica’s mother with the Cancer Three calling the police. He is completely mad. The fact that Monica’s mother just went back inside, la la la, just shows once more how Green is absolutely not on planet earth. Normal human behavior is devoid in TFIOS.

I’m going to assume that at the end of this chapter, these three return to Mr. Psycho’s to find their parents furious and the police outside the door, having been called both by the adults and Monica’s mother. Because in the real world, actions have consequences, and what they did was illegal, mean-spirited, and oh yeah, illegal!

I never took another picture of him.

At least you’ll have his mug shot to remember him by.

Okay, this nasty, stupid, what-am-I-even-looking-at? chapter is finally over. Hearty thanks to Matt and Katie for helping me illustrate why Green is just the worst, and I’m going to go kill everything now.

It's okay. If I say enough stupid bullshit I won't get in trouble!
It’s okay. If I make up enough bullshit, I won’t get in trouble!
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7 thoughts on “Cover to Cover: The Fault in Our Stars, Ch. 14 Part 2

  1. How the egg scene would have played out if I was Monica’s mom:

    I’d go back in the house, go out the side, turn on the hose on full blast and hose those kids and wash the car at the same time while singing “Singing In the Rain” loud enough for the neighborhood to hear. And I would suffer no consequences like all the other characters in this book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Words cannot describe how badly I wish this had happened. That wouldn’t even have been illegal or “wrong” or whatever, and would’ve been a much more harmless prank than the one they’re pulling, but would still teach them a lesson for being little shits. I desperately wish you were Monica’s mom.

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  2. Do you want to know what it is about this book that makes me so very, very angry? It’s that Green clearly thinks he’s being clever…but I can see the much, much cleverer book this this book has the potential to be and it drives me up the damn WALL.
    Like, if you got rid of the romance plot entirely, made the entire story about Hazel Grace reading An Imperial Affliction (complete with excerpts), starting to over-identify with the characters, over-investing, buying a pet hamster with the same name, dressing the same as the character, all in the hope that Clare survives…then Hazel’s condition starts to deteriorate, even as Clare’s does. She reaches the end, with a lack of closure, and is told she has no time left. She is offered something by the Make A Wish, and chooses to meet Van Houten. The book closes on the meeting and her violent rejection of his claim of Death of the Author, and we read it both as a young woman attempting to reject her destiny, and a character rejecting the author.
    AND THAT WOULD BE AWESOME. But Green thinks that writing his would-be Twilight rip-off complete with Mary-Sue (note: my definition of Mary-Sue is one to whom no consequences ever occur for her actions, and that sums up Hazel Grace *perfectly*). It’s just…urgh.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You and The Giddy Owl have this amazing and frustrating ability to write a much better book that is buried beneath all of this crap, and desperately making me wish that I was reading your version instead. That actually sounds like a great read!

      Like

      • What really bothers me though is that it’s like Green is *taunting* us. Hazel Grace has mentioned the concept of ‘hamartia’, which like, I don’t know how the States system works, but I only discovered it as a concept as a first year English Literature student (I do apologize if you know all this already, I’m just working through it to explain why I’m angry with Green). She also wears ‘Treachery of Images’ as a shirt, and understands the principle behind it: when we look a painting, we are not looking at the object, we are looking at the image of the object. That was a concept that got brought up in 300-level English Literature, as a way to illustrate the distance between image and meaning, or diegesis and mimesis as it applies to graphic novels. And, like, I can buy that a cancer patient with too much time on her hands and a deep, invested love for a novel might start reading English Literature texts in an attempt to learn more about to how to understand it. I personally think it’s Green name-dropping concepts that are meant to apply to Hazel and her struggle rather than just letting the reader figure it out because how dare we let teenagers think for themselves, but whatever, I’ll play ball.
        So I’m somehow meant to buy that Hazel Grace understands the concepts of hamartia and diegesis, but does *not* understand the concept of Death of the Author, which at the end of the day is something that gets taught in Narratology 101? Or that you can just look up on TV Tropes? Um, no. Like, I can see what Green is *trying* to do with the Van Houten scene, but because he’s *way* too invested in the romance plot, it falls utterly, totally flat. It reads more like he’s trying to pull a satire on us: take a concept to it’s logical, violent extreme, with nobody calling it out on the basis that the reader is meant to know better.

        In fact, that’s what I am redubbing this book: American Psycho: The Cancer Edition.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Ooh let’s work off your story idea for a bit.

      I do like having Hazel over identifying with the character, the book excerpts, and buying the hamster–but instead have it be so that Hazel’s read this book over so many times that she could probably read it in her sleep. It’ll be a source of comfort for her, reading an excerpt here or there when she’s feeling more down than usual, but she never rereads the ending unless she’s reading the whole book. She meets Van Houten for a sense of closure but is rejected. She reads the ending of the book and writes in pencil how she would end it, but we never see what Hazel has written. Or you can see what Hazel has written, and it’s a final reflection of Hazel’s view of her own death before she kicks the bucket.

      I would keep the romance, but it would need a looooot of work, depending on what angle you’re going for. Is he the smarmy jackass that Hazel falls for because he seems so much like the love interest in An Imperial Affliction? If so, that would explain how she’ll explain away so many of his…”imperfections.” Or she finally gets tired of his shit and breaks it off, realizing how miserable he’s making her, and he either a) continues to be a smarmy jackass, but at a distance or b) realizes what a fuck-up he’s been and actively tries to patch things up and not being a jackass. I don’t care as long as she dies first.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sooo . . . you guys are gonna rewrite this book for me, right? Post it on fanfiction.net or something? Because I seriously will need to read something amazing to help me heal from this terrible monstrosity.

        Like

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