Cover to Cover: The Fault in Our Stars, Ch. 20

DON’T MAKE ME DO IT, PLEASE!

Fine, I'll finish the damn post.

I’ve been procrastinating for so long because I don’t want to talk about this chapter. And why would I? It’s boring, it’s stupid, it’s manipulative emotional porn geared at hormonal teenage girls, it’s a massive waste of my and everyone’s time . . .

In other words, it’s classic John Green.

Thank you, Tom. I needed that.
Thank you, Tom. I needed that.

Last chapter we met Gus’s evil family, and the horror of their disgusting conformism — they’re bankers, for God’s sake! — left me so traumatized that I spent the next two weeks talking about literally anything else.

Never forget.
Never forget.

There was also some bullshit foreshadowing about the Last Good Day, which creates the kind of spine-tingling tension that can have readers unable to put a book down, skimming frantically to find out exactly what the mystery could be, piecing together all the clues to learn what these 3 strange words mean . . . all the way until you read the first sentence of the next chapter:

One of the less bullshitty conventions of the cancer kid genre is the Last Good Day convention, wherein the victim of cancer finds herself with some unexpected hours when it seems like the inexorable decline has suddenly plateaued, when the pain is for a moment bearable. The problem, of course, is that there’s no way of knowing that your last good day is your Last Good Day. At the time, it is just another good day.

Oh.
Oh. Way to milk that mystery, dude.

Oh well, who’s surprised that Green sucks at this point? We’ve got a funeral to get through! Did I forget to mention that part? Don’t worry, it’s just as moving as you’d expect. But first we have to get to that magical moment:

“Hi, Augustus,” I said.

He answered in the voice I’d fallen for.

As opposed to someone else’s voice? Does he usually do a Pee Wee Herman impression when you talk or something?

This is literally the best idea I've ever had.
That is literally the best idea I’ve ever had.

“Good evening, Hazel Grace. Do you suppose you could find your way to the Literal Heart of Jesus around eight P.M.?”

Well, I mean she just said about a paragraph ago that she couldn’t make it to your house today because “I was feeling a bit unwell myself,” which I’m assuming she shared with you, since she tells you everything. But sure, why wouldn’t she want to drag herself out in the middle of the night?

Well she does, of course, because who can resist the pure, undiluted sexiness that is our dear Mr. Psycho?

Screw Edward; THIS is the new face of our hero.
Screw Edward; this is the new face of Augustus Waters.

“Excellent. Also, if it’s not too much trouble, please prepare a eulogy.”

“Um,” I said.

“I love you,” he said.

“And I you,” I answered. Then the phone clicked off.

Sure, that’s the kind of request that needs no explanation whatsoever. Obviously.

But it turns out that her parents aren’t actually comfortable with their child disappearing for 20 hours a day to hang with some boy she met an-unspecified-period-of-time ago, and things get pretty nasty:

“Because Gus needs me for some reason. It’s fine. I can drive.” I fiddled with the BiPAP so Mom would help me take it off, but she didn’t. “Hazel,” she said, “your dad and I feel like we hardly even see you anymore.”

“Particularly those of us who work all week,” Dad said.

“He needs me,” I said, finally unfastening the BiPAP myself.

“We need you, too, kiddo,” my dad said. He took hold of my wrist, like I was a two-year-old about to dart out into the street, and gripped it.

“Well, get a terminal disease, Dad, and then I’ll stay home more.”

9db8bf10-9f3d-0132-e445-0e7954aeedc0
No, wait. Sunshine gets pretty nasty. My mistake.

On the one hand, I appreciate that Green is trying to portray the heart-rending emotional drama that Hazel’s parents must feel in trying to find a line between letting her make herself happy and spending the precious little time they have left with her. I specifically asked for this kind of character development earlier in the book, so shouldn’t I be thrilled that we’re finally getting it? I mean, I would be, except for the fact that Sunshine responds like the evil monster we’ve grown so accustomed to.

You think that just maybe she’d be able to look at how she feels about Mr. Psycho — so jealous of him spending time with other people that she acts like a possessive bitch around his sisters, and constantly whining about how there isn’t enough time left for them — and suspect that her parents might be experiencing some tiny shred of that same emotion? Not as much as she feels, of course, because nothing is as deep and beautiful as this could-be-as-short-as-2-week-or-as-long-as-2-years romance, but you’d expect her to have the ability to empathize with the people who’ve done nothing but sacrifice for her, all out of the kind of love that people write Oscar-winning movies about.

But nope. Instead, we get this:

“You were the one who didn’t want me to be a homebody,” I said to her. Dad was still clutching my arm. “And now you want him to go ahead and die so I’ll be back here chained to this place, letting you take care of me like I always used to. But I don’t need it, Mom. I don’t need you like I used to. You’re the one who needs to get a life.”

no words

“I don’t need you anymore, Mom, because I found a man! Now my life is complete!”

You know what? McGonagall-with-a-throw-pillow-on-her-head is right: I don’t have the words to express how much this exchange makes me want to slaughter everything and everyone in a 4-mile radius and build a giant effigy that reads “I hate John Green” in giant, blood-soaked letters, so let’s just move on.

(Was that too psycho? Gus has apparently been rubbing off on me. Thank God this book is almost over, or I might’ve turned into some sort of serial killer.)

Is it just me, or does "The Fault in Our Stars made me want to destroy all civilized society" make a strangely plausible supervillain origin story?
Is it just me, or does “The Fault in Our Stars made me want to destroy all civilized society” make a strangely plausible supervillain origin story?

All I wanted was an old-fashioned Teenager Walkout, wherein I stomp out of the room and slam the door to my bedroom and turn up The Hectic Glow and furiously write a eulogy.

Because other bands don’t exist in this universe. Seriously, what is with the 1-interest-per-person thing?

It took me forever to figure out what I wanted to say, and even then I wasn’t very happy with it. Before I’d technically finished, I noticed it was 7:40, which meant that I would be late even if I didn’t change, so in the end I wore baby blue cotton pajama pants, flip-flops, and Gus’s Butler shirt.

Well, I’m thrilled you told us that, because otherwise I’d spend the rest of the chapter wondering what color her pajamas were. Though we still don’t know if her shoes are the same color, which means I’ll be up all night haunted with worry about her potentially clashing. Because that’s what girls care about, am I right?

I walked out of the room and tried to go right past them, but my dad said, “You can’t leave the house without permission.”

“Oh, my God, Dad. He wanted me to write him a eulogy, okay? I’ll be home every. Freaking. Night. Starting any day now, okay?” That finally shut them up.

Wow, it’s almost like they’ve been incredibly understanding and lenient this entire book, and if you’d just explained the situation instead of turning into the bitchiest 2-year-old in history, we could’ve avoided this entire scenario. I mean . . . they’re parents. They’re allowed to set rules and boundaries for their underage, cancer-afflicted-when-it’s-convenient-to-the-plot daughter without us assuming they’re Hitler; it’s kinda something parents do.

But OH MY GOD, GUYS, they are just the worst, aren’t they? Good thing she shut them up with that amazing zinger, right? How dare they have the audacity to want to see their daughter every once in a while instead of letting her disappear at all hours of the night to bone her boyfriend?

5792188
No, stop, there’s only 5 chapters to go . . .

Well, she finally gets to the Support Group place, where she finds Mr. Psycho and Mr.-Psycho-in-training (Isaac for short) waiting. Because apparently someone so attractive and charismatic only has 2 people he cares about, and who care about him. He didn’t even invite his family to this thing. What, are you not even a little curious about what they’ll have to say about you, or is there another fake funeral scheduled for 9 p.m.?

Gus gestured for me to sit. I pulled a chair into the center of the circle with him as he spun the chair to face Isaac. “I want to attend my funeral,” Gus said.

Ooh, are we really doing this? I wanna talk! I have so much to say!

Pick me! Pick me!
Pick me! Pick me!

But . . . wait, no, this doesn’t feel right. We’ve been through such a journey: me, my readers, my many gifs, my guest bloggers . . . it’s been quite an ordeal for all of us. And this is a funeral — sort of — and what are funerals about if not being together with the people you love to spit on the grave of the deceased?

At least, that’s how they’ve always been in my family.

I asked around, and it turns out that they had quite a bit to say. And so I, along with my friends Will, Giddy Owl, and Katiedd, will join Isaac and Sunshine in taking this time to reflect upon our relationship with this story’s hero, and share just how we feel. And since I want this to be a community activity, if there’s anyone reading this who feels like they have something to add, please write it down in the comments or in a message to me and I’ll be sure to add it to this post, because we deserve it.

And more importantly, so does he.

mrFpT3
Let’s get this party staaaaaaarteeeeeeed! BYO DISCO-DICK!

But let’s get some of the ridiculous fawning out of the way first. Daredevil, you’re up:

Isaac cleared his throat. “Augustus Waters was a self-aggrandizing bastard.”

Uh, kinda stepping on the toes of my speech, there . . .
Uh, kinda stepping on the toes of my speech, there . . .

“Augustus Waters talked so much that he’d interrupt you at his own funeral.

This is actually . . . charming.

“And he was pretentious: Sweet Jesus Christ, that kid never took a piss without pondering the abundant metaphorical resonances of human waste production.

thats-good

“And he was vain: I do not believe I have ever met a more physically attractive person who was more acutely aware of his own physical attractiveness.

“But I will say this: When the scientists of the future show up at my house with robot eyes and they tell me to try them on, I will tell the scientists to screw off, because I do not want to see a world without him.”

And that’s pretty sweet. All in all, I’m very impressed by that speech, and wouldn’t want to follow him.

But it was way too generous, and luckily my pals and I have the clarity of vision to paint a more accurate picture of Mr. Psycho. (Guests, as usual, are in bold.)

Will kept things short and sweet . . . and poetic:

There once was a boy named Augustus,

Whose smug attitude would disgust us.

For more drama, the answer

Was terminal cancer.

Thus Green gave his fangirls a just fuss.

Also he made this.
Also he made this, which is one of the best things the world has ever seen.

Well, damn it; I want to follow that one up even less.

But there is so much more to say about our favorite psycho, so wipe the tears from your eyes and take a slug of something flammable, because it’s Katie‘s turn:

There are so many wonderful things to say about Augustus Waters. I want to first start off with discussing how Augustus taught me to never stop dreaming. Things that seemed impossible, he made possible. I learned from Augustus and Hazel Grace the concept of “cancer perks,” and I learned that a totally undeserved driver’s license can be given to someone even if their driving was confirmed to be terrible by the DMV. It was one of the first times Augustus showed me his amazing dreamy-guy abilities, but it would not be the last.

You, Augustus Waters, always showed me that life works out exactly as you want it with the exception of pesky cancer getting in the way. Not only did you make out in the Anne Frank House, you got applause by the spectators, who were also there to visit the historical site. Then you took a bow, showing that your classiness was infinite.

When his best friend, Isaac, lost both eyes to cancer and was still recovering from the final surgery, Augustus asked how he was doing. When Isaac answered in a tragic yet humorous way, Augustus promptly told him, “not to one-up you or anything, but my body is made of cancer.” Half serious, half making a joke himself, it doesn’t even matter. Everything he said was perfect and totally appropriate. Isaac will forever be blind and still faces the possibility of relapse, but that did not deter Augustus from reminding Isaac he was the one who had trumped him. Always the pensive one and the adorably competitive one, Augustus Waters.

Finally, I want to say to you, Gus, every time I’ll egg a house in broad daylight and rant to the home owner about it, I’ll think of you. Although, unlike you and your impossible luck in all ways except for “magical plot cancer,” I’ll probably be arrested when the cops will inevitably be called. It will be worth it . . . because it’ll just be “a little touch of” a criminal record.

bianca yay!
Yaaaasssssss! Come throoooough! (Wrong queen, wrong season. I don’t care.)

Now for my final guest, who has contributed so much to this blog through her guest posts, comments, and reassuring me that John Green really is as awful as I make him out to be, the incomparable Giddy:

Augustus feared being forgotten by the sands of time, and he did his best to not be forgotten by being an arrogant little shit that spreads misery wherever he goes like your average Youtube commenter, because people remember hurt a lot more vividly than average kindness. He’ll be remembered for his pain for a good long while, but eventually, the sands of time will rub out that memory.

It is a terrifying idea to imagine your existence being snuffed out, and the memory of that existence fading soon after. However, you exist now. Your existence has an impact on the past, present, and future, no matter how minuscule in the universe, much like the atoms that compose everything. You are the only one who will live with the entirety your existence, and that is what matters most.

And if you're stuck with someone like Augustus Waters for your entire existence, death would seem a bit like a break.
And if you’re stuck with someone like Augustus Waters for your entire existence, death would seem a bit like a break.

Still worried that people will forget you after you die? Don’t worry, you’ll be too dead to care.

tumblr_mewkr9H5B21qczv6m

Well . . . damn. I guess the only way to follow up that level of ironic twee hero worship is by giving you all a totally serious version. With that in mind, if we could have our terminally optimistic —

can't say that

— heroine, our ray of Sunshine: Hazel Grace.

“My name is Hazel. Augustus Waters was the great star-crossed love of my life. Ours was an epic love story, and I won’t be able to get more than a sentence into it without disappearing into a puddle of tears. Gus knew. Gus knows. I will not tell you our love story, because— like all real love stories—it will die with us, as it should. I’d hoped that he’d be eulogizing me, because there’s no one I’d rather have . . .” I started crying. “Okay, how not to cry. How am I—okay. Okay.”

I took a few breaths and went back to the page. “I can’t talk about our love story, so I will talk about math. I am not a mathematician, but I know this: There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that.

What about this infinity?
What about this infinity?

“There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”

Man, so you’re aware of how little time you have, huh? Do you think maybe your parents are at least as painfully aware of that fact, which is why they want you around more often? (Seriously, I’m not getting over that; it’s not like they said she could never see him!)

Oh, whatever. That’s melodramatic, mathematically incorrect, arrogant — epic love story? Really? — and so sappy that I can’t believe she made fun of Gus’ sister just for saying she hopes her son grows up to be like Mr. Psycho. Compared to this, that was about as fawning as a telephone book.

But it’ll make the emotional tweenage girls cry, and Green knows his living depends on pandering to emotional tweenage girls, so bravo.

kids

So I guess it’s my turn. We’re already 1000 words over limit, but what the hell, right? Funerals run long sometimes.

Gus, you are remarkable. You’re narcissistic, not nearly as intelligent as you think you are, and a little on the rapey side . . . but I’m not sure I can blame you for that. See, you’re a victim of a trope and a genre that does nothing but appeal to the base, hormone-ridden desires of young women too naive to realize that men like you are actually creepy, not romantic. Staring Sunshine down like you’re a starving lion and she’s a filet mignon before you’d shared a single word with her, talking cryptically and showering her with inappropriate compliments, almost-kidnapping her the first time you meet . . .

I wasn’t joking when I called you Edward Cullen, because that’s virtually what you are. You’re a sparkly vampire, and people will someday find you ridiculous (I hope). But you’re first found desirable, because you’re exactly like every YA romantic hero we’ve seen since the genre was created, and people want to immerse themselves in the fantasy of being the object of someone’s unwavering desire, someone improbably sexy despite no exercise and lots of cancer, witty and brilliant despite sounding like all your lines were culled from both Tumblr and those awful sites that advertise things like “The System,” romantic despite behaving like that guy who breathes loudly into women’s phones and sends OKCupid messages like “i think we belong togethr ur so hot” to 50 girls at a time.

But can I blame you for being so horribly written? Are you really the victim of the contrived genius that knows exactly what buttons to press to get girls to drool over you and buy your merchandise? Are you as disgusted with yourself as we are?

Probably not. I don’t expect that, even if you were capable of being self-aware as a fictional character, Green gave you the capacity to be self-aware as a massive douchebag, because you have no reason to believe that you’re as hateful as you truly are. That’s the magic of characters like you; it’s why you can make out with your equally-nasty heroine in the middle of the Anne Frank museum and be applauded for it, because you are so important that your universe revolves around your whims. No one exists but to please you, Augustus Waters, and that kind of life is so charmed that I can’t feel bad for you, despite the fact that I know you’re going to be worm food in less than 4 chapters.

The rest of us muddle along, making mistakes, loving, losing, but you’re free from all of that. No emotional attachments besides a girl who is basically an extension of your own personality, no financial troubles despite being in and out of the hospital more often than most part-time nurses, never seeming to suffer for your affliction until the last few chapters for the sake of melodrama. 17 years of pure perfection (minus let’s say 4 for cumulative cancer angst) is more than any of us mere mortals will ever get, and we don’t even have the luxury of whining about it or hating you, because then we seem like massive tools making fun of the kid with cancer.

You’re perhaps the perfect definition of inane fantasy, someone who can only exist between the pages of a novel, or behind the safe barrier of a screen. Not because the world cannot handle you, but you cannot handle the world. Out here, we would eat you alive.

So I won’t miss you, Gus, and I’ll find your death a relief and probably a little funny. You’re a prime example of bad writing, and you can’t control that any more than a spider can control how it’s going to make me scream when it sticks its furry little backside over the shower curtain. But that fucker’s gonna die anyway, and so are you.

Goodbye, you creepy, criminal, memorial-defiling, disrespectful, douchey, pretentious waste of ink and paper. We’d like to offer you a final salute the only way we know how: the Drunk way.

Will
Will
4slkbs
Katiedd
IMG_1387
The Giddy Owl

ody3q

Goodnight, sweet prince. May a flight of angels quote Swedish rap to you, and don’t let the coffin lid hit you in the ass on the way out.

Peace til next time!

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9 thoughts on “Cover to Cover: The Fault in Our Stars, Ch. 20

    • YOU MADE IT AWESOME! Seriously, this was so so SO much fun. The chapter was a big nothing (except for the awful parent thing) so it basically became us messing around and hating on Gus, which is one of my favorite things.

      And Will has a gift for intentionally terrible things. It’s a . . . strange gift, but we work with what we have, right?

      Like

  1. *slow clap* All of those guest eulogies were beautiful. And yours and Issac’s were also great. I’m not going to miss Mr. Psycho either. So many of my friends love this book and I once toyed with the idea of reading it since we share similar interests, but I’m much better off not reading it. Or anything else by John Green.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately, I don’t think it has much to offer if you’re not a weepy teenage girl. And personally, as a 20-something with a shriveled black heart, I couldn’t be less moved.

      Like

  2. Your little psychotic break finally made me realize what this book is. Long ago, I had a similarly violent reaction to the much lauded (and thoroughly vile) Bridges of Madison County. Looking at your reaction, I can only conclude, this book is Bridges for teens/tweens/semi-literate soccer moms/whatever.

    I know it would be closer to the truth to describe it as a badly written “reimagining” of Love Story suffering from Over-Used Thesaurus Syndrome, but for some reason, it reminds me more of all those other “Oprah’s Book Club” travesties that have made me despair of my one time dream of writing fiction. (Well, I still write, I just despair of ever finding a reader, much less publisher.)

    Or maybe it is a Nora Ephron film, just with cancer and traumatic brain injuries (Ephron is mawkish and cloying, but at least her dialogue sounds like something humans could conceivably say to one another… Though most would make little gagging gestures after doing so.)

    It is so difficult to come up with the perfect analogy. Not because it is unique, there were hundreds of “dying fiancee” movies in the 50s and 60s (and even later). But this one is, in a way, sui generis. Most tear jerkers aim proudly at the lowest common denominator, while this one has such terribly high aspirations (or rather pretensions), and has managed to make others take them seriously. It helps that the target audience are still mostly a bit unbalanced from the final stages of puberty, but it is still surprising to find a traditional tear jerker getting such praise. It is like someone comparing Sweet November to Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, it just feels so wrong it is impossible to explain.

    So, perhaps I should just not try,

    Liked by 1 person

    • TFiOS is beginning to receive a bit of a backlash, but it’s certainly not at twilight or 50 Shades levels, and I doubt it ever will reach that level of near-universal derision; Green denies that the popularity of his books have anything to do with his internet popularity, but I find that extremely difficult to believe.

      Never read Bridges (is that a Sparks book?), but it sounds pretty gross. Ephron doesn’t bother me too much because she never seems to take either herself or her stories very seriously, but that kind of popcorn romance doesn’t do much for me, either. The closest I ever got was The Devil Wears Prada (NOT the movie), which I think has a bit too much going on to be pure lady-porn — also, the main character’s life sucks — but even so, that kind of realistic-fantasy genre (which TFiOS most certainly is, though I think Green would vehemently deny that label) is hard to do well, and enjoying it requires a mindset of escapist beach-reading that I only occasionally find myself in anyway.

      Like

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