Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cover vs. Cover [15]

Cover vs. Cover is a weekly feature, hosted here, where I compare different covers of the same book. For more information, visit the Weekly Features page.

This week's competing covers are:

           The US Cover                                    The UK Cover

I like the US better. Even though the lilies are cliche, they're pretty. I like the shade of purple that tones the UK cover better than the purple on the US, but overall the UK cover is too similar to Fallen's cover to be the better of the two. What's interesting is that the title text for both is almost exactly the same.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Review: The Fault in Our Stars

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Release Date: January 10, 2012
Publisher:  Dutton
Cover Designer: 
Rodrigo Corral
Age Audience: YA
Genre: Contemporary
Summary: Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs...for now.
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

The Fault in Our Stars lives up to the incredible hype.

It was lovely that the dedication was to Esther Earl, the Nerdfighter girl in whose memory the This Star Won't Go Out Foundation was founded. While little things like "my best friend was an author who didn't know I existed" can set you off, remember that this book is a work of fiction. Mr. Green has stated several times that Esther and Hazel are nothing alike.

Hazel has cancer, and Augustus had cancer, but this wasn't a "cancer book" as much as it was a book about teenagers with cancer. When it came to characters, the first thing I noticed was that the secondary characters weren't as developed as they were in the author's other novels. In Looking for Alaska, there was the whole gang. In Paper Towns, Q had Ben and Radar. But Hazel and Augustus created a little world that was only for the two of them. I rather liked Isaac, even thought the part he played in the story wasn't as important as I hoped.

There were times I wished that An Imperial Affliction, the book that Hazel and Augustus loved, was real so I could read it. The author, Peter Van Houten, never wrote anything else and lived isolated from the world in Amsterdam. Because they knew so little about him, Hazel and Augustus romanticized him as the great thinker of our time. But things changed. Eventually Hazel referred to Van Houten as "an author we used to like".

The Fault in Our Stars followed Mr. Green's style of being both funny and philosophical, sometimes simultaneously. Hazel and Augusts were humorous in their nerdy, adorable ways, but deeper things lied beneath. One of the recurring themes was death. How everything is a side effect of dying. How thousands die every day, but few are recognized, and why are they the ones to be recognized? How Anne Frank was built a museum and went down in history for being killed in the Holocaust, but the four Aron Franks were not.
Another theme was being a hero. Augustus was obsessed with the idea of a traditional hero. But we were shown that not all of us are going to win wars or save the world. We can be heroes in smaller ways, in the ways Augustus was a hero.

I was not expecting the turn of events. I knew someone was going to die, but I was wrong about who it was. For a while, I even thought the book would end mid-sentence in the style of An Imperial Affliction. As for how it really did end, let's just say that if you care about Hazel or Augustus at all, you're in for emotional pain.

Everything you've heard about this book is true. The Fault in Our Stars is everything from heartbreaking to haunting.