The Fault in Our Stars: Ch. 25, Part 1

So . . . life may have been a little rough the last few months. I’m not great at being all emotional and stuff, and people don’t come here for that, so let’s use an unfunny meme to explain my life since the last post:

October: Grad school is terrible and I hate everything! No time to blog, I got work to do.

Muchlater

November: I just got dumped. (Again. It was embarrassing.) Time to go man-hunting! I hear this online dating thing isn’t so bad . . .

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The internet is a disgusting place filled with terrible people.

December: Fuck men. Cats are better.

There was a lot of looking at cats during this time. I consider it my Cheezburger phase.

January: I’ve been kinda bummed out lately. But you know, I really need to take this time to focus on myself and the things I enjoy, jump back into my hobbies. I was so happy last year when I got to focus on the things I love, like writing fanfiction, knitting, bloggi —

Oh, is it time for the Spring semester already? Well gee, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time to fit that stuff in, especially since I’m not wasting time talking to those losers on online dating sites.

Muchmuchlater
Not pictured: A great deal of time spent talking to losers on online dating sites. They were still terrible and I still hate the Internet.

March: Drag Race is starting again! Time to think about literally nothing else!

Spoiler alert: My favorite went home immediately. Be glad you missed that meltdown, because it wasn't pretty.
Spoiler alert: My favorite went home immediately. Be glad you missed that meltdown, because it wasn’t pretty. There was lots of crying and knitting my pain away.

April: OH MY GOD EVERYTHING IS FIRE NO ONE WILL EVER PAY ME SO MANY PRESENTATIONS WHY DID I CHOOSE A PROFESSION THAT HAS SO MUCH PUBLIC SPEAKING I CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT BOOKS LOOK LIKE ARE MY EYES BLEEDING WHY DOES EVERY PROFESSOR INSIST ON HAVING MAJOR PROJECTS DUE AT THE SAME TIME WHYYYYYYY

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May: Wow, what a wonderful semester! It was stressful, but I learned a lot, I’m inspired to be a librarian and help those in need, and I’m more physically and emotionally healthy than I’ve been in a long time. I even promised my friend Will that I’d finish this Fault in Our Stars blog. I feel so motivated!

Time to celebrate!

DzBvdNlg

WOOOO! I HAVE TWO MARTINIS AND ABOUT HALF MY WEIGHT IN OVERPRICED FONDUE IN ME!!! LET’S DO THIS!!!!!!! JOHN GREEN IS MY BIIIIIIIITCH!

Yes, this is me after 2 drinks. It's very easy to be The Drunk Librarian when you're a total lightweight.
Yes, this is me after 2 drinks. It’s very easy to be The Drunk Librarian when you’re a total lightweight.

8hourslater

Right Now: . . . Fine. I guess it’d be pretty embarrassing to make it this far and not finish the thing properly.

Show me what you’ve got, Sunshine.

I woke up the next morning panicked because I’d dreamed of being alone and boatless in a huge lake.

Gee, I wonder what that could possibly mean?

Probably nothing.

Anyway, she’s woken from a dream that was about 30 adjectives short of being lifted straight out of New Moon to find that Jessica I mean Kate does it really matter at this point Kaitlyn has called. I guess we needed some sort of interaction now that Mr. Psycho’s gone, and we haven’t had a lot of internalized misogyny lately (is it internalized if the writer’s male?), so this is exciting for all of us.

I don’t remember anything about this character, since she only had 3 total minutes of screentime, but I feel like I hate her. A lot.

“Just calling to check in,” she said. “See how you’re doing.”

Aww, how sweet. What was wrong with her again?

“You’ve just had the worst luck, darling. It’s unconscionable.”

It just came screaming back to me.
It just came screaming back to me.

Turns out we’re not the only ones who want Kaitlyn to die in a fiery explosion. Sunshine, being her usual vivacious self, is tired of this phone call as well:

Honestly, I didn’t really want to talk with Kaitlyn about anything, but she kept dragging the conversation along.

For an entire 12 seconds. I mean, I feel like each word lasts 10,000 years, but she’s your friend, Hazel Grace. If you hate her so much, why did you bother answering the phone in the first place?

Okay, so this is an extremely annoying trope in romance novels: our Bland Heroine needs a female best friend, to show that a) she is capable of making friends, so that we’ll buy whatever Beefcake McHunkypants thinks is so amazing about her, b) we have more people on hand to remind Bland Heroine that she’s so amazing and should totally get the bestest man who ever did exist, in the moments when said dreamboat is away doing things that will have no impact on the story, and c) we have a woman available to compare Bland Heroine to, so that we never forget that all females are superficial and lesser and otherwise undeserving of the happiness that is due to the breeding pair. And we have to make the friend unlikable to an extent, so that we don’t feel bad about the protagonist abandoning her the second Man Tits comes along and sweeps her away to his yacht or forest or Amsterdam or whatever.

But the problem with that is that we still have to buy that this obnoxious specimen of Inferior Womanhood is someone Bland Heroine actually wants to be around. Either our main character is incapable of making her own decisions, or she is so unlikable that the only people she can attract are equally vapid and self-obsessed.

But that can't be it, surely!
But that can’t be it!

Besides, there tends to be an irritating common denominator that crops up when talking about all of these disposable best friends:

“So what was it like?” she asked.

“Having your boyfriend die? Um, it sucks.”

“No,” she said. “Being in love.”

Because obviously someone who has had multiple boyfriends — and maybe even had sex with them, the harlot! — has never experienced love. Only deep thinkers like Our Breeding Pair and Guy-whose-name-I’ve-forgotten-so-let’s-just-call-Blinkin have the emotional capacity to feel that.

Kaitlyn has only ever loved shoes.
Kaitlyn has only ever loved shoes.

Anyway, Sunshine describes love in the most unromantic and uninspired way possible:

“it was nice to spend time with someone so interesting. We were very different, and we disagreed about a lot of things, but he was always so interesting, you know?”

Then Green tries really, really hard to convince us that Mr. Psycho isn’t a Manic Pixie Dream Man and all his bad writing was intentional:

“He wasn’t perfect or anything. He wasn’t your fairy-tale Prince Charming or whatever. He tried to be like that sometimes, but I liked him best when that stuff fell away.”

Convincing. (You can just see his editor's notes: "John, this romance isn't really believable. He's coming across like too much of a Prince Charming and it seems kinda fake." And Green, instead of fixing it, decided to change nothing and just keep lampshading that he KNOWS how ridiculous it all is. (I do it all the time in my own fiction; it's a strategy I like to cal This Isn't My Fucking Job, So I Don't Have to Write Like a Grown-Up if I Don't Want To.)
How convincing.

You can just see his editor’s notes: “John, this romance isn’t really believable. He’s coming across too perfect.” And Green, instead of fixing it, decided to change nothing and just keep lampshading that he knows how ridiculous it all is, so it can’t possibly be a mistake. I do it all the time in my own writing; it’s a strategy I like to call This Isn’t My Fucking Job, So I Don’t Have to Write Like a Grown-Up if I Don’t Want To.

That bit of authorial intervention over —

And so subtly.
And with such subtlety!

— they move on to the MacGuffin of the last few chapters, a.k.a. That Thing You Keep Forgetting About: Gus’ non-existent letter.

“Maybe he mailed them to you,” she said.

“Nah, they’d’ve gotten here.”

“Then maybe they weren’t written for you,” she said. “Maybe . . . I mean, not to depress you or anything, but maybe he wrote them for someone else and mailed them—”

You know, I’m pretty sure I said something along those lines. But before I can applaud Green for a hint of self awareness, Sunshine realizes that this must mean it was mailed to Van Houten, and now she has yet another excuse to harass this old man for something that was never meant for her. What dead person can she dress up like this time to make it good and creepy?

She hangs up on Kaitlyn, because conversations in this book only serve to either reinforce the main characters’ perfection or drag the plot along, and emails Lidewij about the letter:

Lidewij,

I believe Augustus Waters sent a few pages from a notebook to Peter Van Houten shortly before he (Augustus) died. It is very important to me that someone reads these pages. I want to read them, of course, but maybe they weren’t written for me. Regardless, they must be read. They must be. Can you help?

Your friend,

Hazel Grace Lancaster

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And now you know why this one was my favorite. Watching her was like reading this book in front of a mirror, assuming I were a cute gay guy with questionable hair.

Because she knows better than anyone what Mr. Psycho’s last wishes were. For God’s sake, he sent them to another continent. Don’t you think maybe he would’ve found a way for you to read it if he’d actually wanted you to? Is this the same girl who was bitching about other people not respecting the dead a few chapters ago? Because this seems significantly more disrespectful than writing a message on a friend’s Facebook.

Liddy replies, talks a bit about how Gus was the best person in the entire world, and how she will “force” him to read the letter, adding “I am bringing my boyfriend in case we have to physically restrain Peter.”

How I wish this book took place in a world where police existed.

I wondered why he’d written Van Houten in those last days instead of me, telling Van Houten that he’d be redeemed if only he gave me my sequel. Maybe the notebook pages had just repeated his request to Van Houten. It made sense, Gus leveraging his terminality to make my dream come true: The sequel was a tiny thing to die for, but it was the biggest thing left at his disposal.

It goes to show just how self-absorbed Sunshine is that she never questions why Mr. Psycho would use his last surviving days to make her dream come true. Van Houten’s wishes, Gus’ wishes, the wishes of his family or hers . . . nothing matters in the face of what she wants, and she just assumes everyone else automatically subjugates their own interests to hers.

Unfortunately for us, they do. If they didn’t, Gus never would’ve cared about that book, never would’ve taken her to Amsterdam, and their relationship would’ve either developed organically or died a very natural death (no pun intended).

Instead . . . we have this.

I missed the future. Obviously I knew even before his recurrence that I’d never grow old with Augustus Waters. But thinking about Lidewij and her boyfriend, I felt robbed. I would probably never again see the ocean from thirty thousand feet above, so far up that you can’t make out the waves or any boats, so that the ocean is a great and endless monolith. I could imagine it. I could remember it. But I couldn’t see it again, and it occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again.

That is probably true even if you live to be ninety—although I’m jealous of the people who get to find out for sure. Then again, I’d already lived twice as long as Van Houten’s daughter. What he wouldn’t have given to have a kid die at sixteen.

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I know, I could talk about how at least she got to experience those things once, and how she has had far more opportunities than the average person in her situation, thanks to being the beneficiary of Magical Plot Cancer.

Or I could go the empathetic route and say that we shouldn’t try to measure pain objectively, that what is a minor inconvenience to me may be an unbearable burden to you; that pain is as powerful as the person feels it, and we have no right to tell someone not to be unhappy.

But . . . I mean . . .

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I’m out of empathy. We still have Mr. Psycho’s stupid, terrible letter. And I want to do a nice wrap-up post where we bond over this journey of hatred and alcoholism, and where I tell you what my next projects will hopefully be.

But that’s just going to have to wait for another week, or month, or 7 months. Because I really want to be able to dedicate my everything to these posts — my best humor, my best incoherent rage, my best gifs of drag queens — and I’m not interested in half-assing the very last chapter, not when there’s still so much crap to wade through.

So, even though I also cannot believe it, we’re not finished with this book. So sit down, take a nice deep breath, watch this strangely mesmerizing gif, and I’ll see you guys next time:

Seriously, it's like a lava lamp, if lava lamps made me confused about being attracted to a swamp monster.
Seriously, it’s like a lava lamp, if lava lamps made me confused about being attracted to a swamp monster.
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