Tag Archives: cancer

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

22 Jul

As a longtime avid consumer of storytelling, I’ve slowly put together a mental list of writers who have made me cry longer and harder than I would care to admit: Patrick Ness, Philip Pullman, J.K. Rowling, Joss Whedon. Now, granted, I cry pretty easily, but as far as I’m concerned a writer’s ability to bring me to tears speaks to their ability to make me care about their characters. I sometimes think that reading or engaging in narrative of any kind brings on a sort of temporary lunacy in me; how else can you explain getting hysterical over someone or something that doesn’t actually exist?

I started thinking about all this crying gobbledie gook after I watched the series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer a couple nights ago after a year long binge of the entire series in chronological order. It was one of those things where I was unsure whether I wanted people there for emotional support or not, and now that that trauma is over I can honestly say I am so happy I was home alone, because the word “crying” doesn’t adequately describe the sounds that were coming out of me.  Point being, sometimes I wonder whether I want to knight these tear-jerking writers for making me love their characters so much and sometimes I want to sue them for emotional damages. Now, after reading The Fault in Our Stars, John Green has made his way onto my STOP MAKING ME CRY, YOU JERK list.

Hazel was thirteen years old when she was diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer, and fourteen years old when a miracle drug dragged her from her death bed. Two years later she is stuck in a rut of depression (a “side effect of dying”) when her parents force her to go to a cancer kid support group where she meets an Adonis with a prosthetic leg, Augustus. They develop an existentially fraught relationship that juggles the meaning of life, mortality, and making out.

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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

30 Apr

I have pushed Patrick Ness‘ bleak dystopian Chaos Walking trilogy on just about every reader I know for the past couple of years. You don’t like science fiction? I don’t give a damn, and why are we even friends, anyways? Whereas the Chaos Walking books read like 1,000 pages of tears and anxiety attacks (and I mean that in the very best way), his newest offering, A Monster Calls is a sombre, graphic exploration of guilt and loss adapted from Siobhan Dowd‘s final offering, unable to be completed due to her death.

The first time the monster visits thirteen-year-old Conor at seven minutes past midnight he is not frightened, but relieved that it is not the same monster he has been dreaming (nightmaring?) of since his mother first started her cancer treatments. This monster is a manifestation of the ancient mythological Green Man, and it has come to tell Conor three stories. In exchange, the monster wants one thing: the truth. As the monster’s visits continue, its stories of destruction and rage become indistinguishable from Conor’s own violent outbursts in reaction to his mother’s rapidly deteriorating condition, so that the reader is left to wonder whether the monster is real or if it is just a fevered imagining of Conor’s disturbed and grief-stricken mind.

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