Cover to Cover: The Fault in Our Stars, Ch. 16 . . .

Hey guys, guess what?

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I found a graduation picture I actually look good in!

Oh, and I graduated, I guess.

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But I had to start grad school last Tuesday, and it’s hard as dicks.

Like, my brain is pure mush right now.

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Now don’t let that scare you, little babies who have to go off to graduate school in the near (or not-too-near) future; I’m taking condensed courses on things like metadata and curation and all sorts of stuff that won’t be terribly applicable as a grown-up. I’m sure you’ll be fine.

So in the midst of all this exhaustion and stress and information resource packages, to whom shall I turn to for comfort but that master of positivity and charm, Sir Jonathan of Greenington?

I told you. Mush.
These are the jokes, people. I told you: mush. Expect the gifs to do a lot of the heavy lifting.

Last week we enjoyed a pretty appalling chapter about Gus’ cancer doing . . . something, and how our main characters are just the worst people ever. It was a laugh riot.

This chapter is pretty depressing, because Gus is all cancer-y and not totally hateful, and it’s just . . . well . . .

I went over to his house about noon, after he had eaten and puked up breakfast. He met me at the door in his wheelchair, no longer the muscular, gorgeous boy who stared at me at Support Group, but still half smiling, still smoking his unlit cigarette, his blue eyes bright and alive.

Hilarious.
Hilarious.

So let’s get started!

She goes to his house every single day, because apparently that “Gus wants to spend time with his family” thing was only temporary, at least in the face of true love.

His parents were quiet, watching him, never looking away, like they just wanted to enjoy The Gus Waters Show while it was still in town.

Gee, wouldn’t it be interesting to explore their thoughts and feelings, seeing as they’ve been among the only sympathetic characters in this slog of a novel? I mean, I’d expect them to resent Sunshine monopolizing his time when they don’t have much left, warring with the desire to see their son happy, and learning to lean on one another in this difficult time, and stuff.

Yep, sure would be cool. If only I had the power to decide who we focused on . . .

gtfo

They go outside, and Gus is perfect:

Still athletic, in spite of it all, blessed with balance and quick reflexes that even the abundant narcotics could not fully mask.

They play video games, and Gus is perfect:

I sucked at it, of course, but my sucking was useful to him: It made it easier for him to die beautifully, to jump in front of a sniper’s bullet and sacrifice himself for me, or else to kill a sentry who was just about to shoot me. How he reveled in saving me. He shouted, “You will not kill my girlfriend today, International Terrorist of Ambiguous Nationality!”

They take sexy, romantic naps, and Gus is perfect:

When I got his face nose-touchingly close so 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.

They muse on the nature of life, and I think you can see where this is going . . .

Above us, the wind blew and the branching shadows rearranged themselves on our skin. Gus squeezed my hand. “It is a good life, Hazel Grace.”

Isn’t that magical? It makes you want to sit back and reminisce about all the good times, like when he kidnapped her on their first date, or when he stalked her, or tried to guilt her into sex, or when they made out in the Anne Frank House . . .

you're an asshole

Yeah, he can die anytime now.

Okay, I'm sorry.
Okay, I’m sorry.

Seriously, this chapter is just listing the many ways in which Mr. Psycho is perfect and charming, and it gets pretty boring about ten seconds in.

It’s funny, because I seem to remember something about how sick kids aren’t supposed to be all saintly because it’s not realistic, and how this book was going to transcend those kinds of “cancer book” tropes.

I think he mentioned it once or twice.
I think he mentioned it once or twice.

Kinda seems like turning Gus into pure, undiluted perfection goes against that, don’t you think? Just a little bit?

And it leaves me with nothing to say. I mean, you’ve read all the most interesting parts. Sunshine muses a bit on how it must hurt Mr. Psycho to not be a hero or whatever:

It crossed my mind to fake a choking incident or something so that he might give me the Heimlich. Maybe then he could rid himself of this fear that his life had been lived and lost for no greater good. But then I imagined him being physically unable to Heimlich, and me having to reveal that it was all a ruse, and the ensuing mutual humiliation.

It’s hard as hell to hold on to your dignity when the risen sun is too bright in your losing eyes

classy (not)
Yeah, that felt like something a normal person would say. And it was a totally natural transition, too!

Macho Man needs to be macho, and everyone is sad because he can’t be, despite the fact that he appears to be handling this better than any person, ever. At least Sunshine sucks at video games — because she’s a girl? I mean, I suck at video games, but it’s not exactly rocket science, and if you’re doing it every day I’d expect some improvement — so he can pretend to be special, which he definitely isn’t.

You know, aside from the fact that he’s so special literally everyone in the entire world has fallen in love with him (except me).

Nope, just your perfectly average ordinary boring sexy muscular philosopher video game whiz book nerd.
Nope, just your perfectly average ordinary boring sexy muscular philosopher video game whiz book nerd.

And now the chapter’s over. Huh.

Not really sure what to do now.
Not really sure what to do now.

Well, that was quick. We’re not even at 1000 words yet.

How long is chapter 17, again?

Oh, right.
Oh, right.

What the hell, let’s go for it!


 Cover to Cover: The Fault in Our Stars, Ch. 17

Last time was two seconds ago, so let’s just keep going.

She goes to his house, but apparently Green realized he’d made Mr. Psycho too perfect, because she gets a surprise:

I found him mumbling in a language of his own creation. He’d pissed the bed. It was awful. I couldn’t even look, really. I just shouted for his parents and they came down, and I went upstairs while they cleaned him up.

the struggle is real

Okay, those first two sentences were pretty powerful, but then Sunshine immediately makes it about her — because everything must be — and overreacts like crazy.

Honey, he’s sick and he peed himself. That’s kinda expected for someone who can’t walk on his own and for some reason still sleeps in the basement despite that having no bathroom or way to contact his parents. Have you never wet the bed before?

You . . . know he pees, right?

NOT PISS!
Hazel’s entirely-appropriate reaction to this situation.

See, this seems like the difference between infatuation and love. Supposedly Sunshine is so true love romantic adoration infinities whatever with this guy, but wouldn’t you expect her to be able to handle a little pee and mumbling?

Hell, half the guys I knew in college woke up like that more than once. But she can’t even look at him in his horrible shame!

get over it

This is the major conflict of the chapter, by the way.

“With each passing minute, I’m developing a deeper appreciation of the word mortified,” he said finally.

“I’ve pissed the bed, Gus, believe me. It’s no big deal.”

This is the dramatic thrust of 1/25th of the novel, so important that it couldn’t possibly be cut out for the sake of not boring us all to death. Feel the drama!

Hazel's reaction to finding out Gus also poops.
Hazel’s reaction to finding out Gus also poops.

“You used,” he said, and then took a sharp breath, “to call me Augustus.”

And you used to smile crookedly, Mr. Psycho. Who’s betrayed who?

Actually, she used to call you “Augustus Waters.” But now she doesn’t because it’s a pointless waste of syllables and she knows you better. Nicknames are actually considered an affectionate thing to people who aren’t entirely crazy.

But there’s an awkward break that doesn’t really end the scene, so that Green gets away without finishing that train of thought, and he jumps back in on another of Gus’ musings:

“You know,” he said after a while, “it’s kids’ stuff, but I always thought my obituary would be in all the newspapers, that I’d have a story worth telling. I always had this secret suspicion that I was special.”

Have I heard that before?
Oh, it’s his weekly “I want to die a hero” speech. I’d hoped he was too weak to keep making these.

Okay, I’m not being fair. This is actually rather relatable; I think everyone’s had that feeling that we’re better or more noteworthy than our peers. We’re the heroes of our own stories, and on some level we’ll always half-expect some sort of Hollywood moment to swoop in and fulfill the destiny we know we deserve.

That, or I’m just a massive narcissist raised on pop culture.

“I don’t care if the New York Times writes an obituary for me. I just want you to write one,” I told him. “You say you’re not special because the world doesn’t know about you, but that’s an insult to me. I know about you.”

really bitch?

By the way, it’s totally healthy to rely on someone you barely know so much that you want them to write your obituary. Not at all codependent or off-putting.

But of course, because if there’s anyone we should be pitying in this moment, it’s you. He’s gonna die before ever getting the chance to be special — or live long enough to realize the true value of an ordinary life — but you’re the one truly suffering.

“I don’t think I’m gonna make it to write your obituary,” he said, instead of apologizing.

How dare he not apologize for showing unhappiness at the thought of dying? What a jerk!

I get that it might be hard to have to sit by and know that you can’t make someone you love happy, but you have literally no right to make him feel worse about not fitting into the perfect dying boyfriend model you want him to be.

I genuinely can’t fathom this level of selfishness. She’s making him feel guilty that he isn’t happy about dying. I know she’s done reprehensible things before this, but . . . I don’t have any words.

Do I actually like and feel sorry for Mr. Psycho right now? Our Mr. Psycho? Psycho Mr. Psycho? How did we come to this?!

WHAT IS HAPPENING?!
WHAT IS HAPPENING?!

I was so frustrated with him. “I just want to be enough for you, but I never can be. This can never be enough for you. But this is all you get. You get me, and your family, and this world. This is your life. I’m sorry if it sucks. But you’re not going to be the first man on Mars, and you’re not going to be an NBA star, and you’re not going to hunt Nazis. I mean, look at yourself, Gus.” He didn’t respond. “I don’t mean—” I started.

“Oh, you meant it,” he interrupted. I started to apologize and he said, “No, I’m sorry. You’re right. Let’s just play.”

So we just played.

huh?

Did he just tell her she was right to insult and berate him? I get that Green’s going for a weird Saint Cancer Kid (despite saying that this wasn’t one of those kinds of books), but there’s a fine line between him being perfect and him validating her selfish, nasty behavior.

Maybe if I read it again it’ll make more sense:

“I just want to be enough for you, but I never can be. This can never be enough for you. But this is all you get. You get me, and your family, and this world. This is your life. I’m sorry if it sucks. But you’re not going to be the first man on Mars, and you’re not going to be an NBA star, and you’re not going to hunt Nazis. I mean, look at yourself, Gus.” He didn’t respond. “I don’t mean—” I started.

“Oh, you meant it,” he interrupted. I started to apologize and he said, “No, I’m sorry. You’re right. Let’s just play.”

So we just played.

wait what?

Nope. That’s the end of the chapter, and somehow we went from Sunshine being a despicable human being to Gus absolving her of her sins and them just . . . getting over it?

It took less time for them to get over him peeing himself!

idk wtf happened
Me, this entire post. And I don’t think we can blame the mush-brain for all of it.

 

Okay, that’s enough stupidity for me.

Hope you guys enjoyed these chapters, and we’ll see to what depths these characters sink next week!

katwalk
And to how much my mind will have snapped from the stress of being an adult!
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One thought on “Cover to Cover: The Fault in Our Stars, Ch. 16 . . .

  1. Y’know, it strikes me that this book could have earned a few, a very few, redemptive points just by having Hazel pause during this chapter to reflect that all those cancer tropes she’s been bashing may have been written because some of them really *are* true…and perhaps maybe some people chose to write about the experience they wished they’d had, rather than the experience they got.

    But of course that would require Hazel having a moment of reflection and empathy, and John Green might have to acknowledge that his is not the definitive Cancer Book (see, John Green? I can randomly deploy capital letters like a Victorian gentlewoman, too!) and we can’t have that, can we?

    Like

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