The third and final part of my epic stupidly long review and then we can finally say goodbye to the tripe that is “The Fault in Our Stars”. I have champagne at the ready! (I wish, but Shiraz is pretty good). This section will be dealing with how this crap deals with the highly emotive and sensitive topic of cancer, or more accurately how it is used to provide wangst to our arsehole characters while failing horrifically when it comes to research. Normally I wouldn’t pick on this if it was portrayed as what it really is: research light fluff that uses cancer to add tragedy. However, this book has been lauded as the book that deals with the gritty realism of cancer and how it is so different from other cancer books. Well I think I have explained why that is bollocks in the first two parts via our protagonists but I feel that the topic of cancer needs to be dissected for the lazy portrayal that they really are. I have been researching on various cancer websites as well as talking to my Mum who is a nurse and has a lot of experience in this area. Well, there is no time like the present. Shall we?
First off is Hazel Grace Lancaster (Gawd! I hate that bitch) and her cancer portrayal. She was diagnosed with Stage IV Thyroid cancer that metastasised to her lungs. Let’s start off with the thyroid cancer, this cancer is exceptionally rare but has a very high survival rate even when diagnosed in later stages. I researched the type of thyroid cancers as Hazel never says what types and it was difficult to find one that fit. It could be medullary thyroid cancer as that can spread to the lungs but this seems unlikely as the survival rate is very good but those who have tumours that spread are far more likely to have spread first to the lymph nodes (70% survival) and then if it spreads further then it is far more likely to spread to the liver, brain and bones. I’m not saying that it can’t spread to the lungs but it usually spreads to other places first.
The other likely cancer would be papillary which effects far more younger women but then the survival rate is 90% between peak patients (30-50 years old) and very rarely spreads to the lungs and when diagnosed with those under 30 then the survival rate is almost 100%. So even that one doesn’t really fit. I’m not saying that it is impossible for her to suffer and be terminal from thyroid cancer but it is rare.
I know the real reason why he picked thyroid cancer and that was because his friend died of that same cancer and this was his way of honouring her. Seems odd to me, to be honest as a way of honouring her after death but that’s what he decided. However, he does not get a pass for that as Hazel not once suffers at all with symptoms of thyroid cancer. The symptoms are usually a hoarse voice, swelling, difficulty swallowing, hormone related issues and can induce loose bowels. All she ever does is go on about her tumours in her lungs, so why give her thyroid cancer? What is honestly the point? Yes, he is honouring a friend in a very bizarre way (who wants to have their literature legacy be about what cancer you had?). If it was me then I would have given the character the same name but maybe that’s just me. However, I have another suspicion as to why he picked this combination but that is for later.
So next up for Hazel is her lung tumours which she does talk about, by talk, I mean spout lurid, purple prose about how she feels like she is drowning all the time. Hence the inspiration for the alternative title. The author picked lung tumours for a metaphor! On the surface all her symptoms of lung tumours are correct such as shortness of breath and fatigue but we never see her cough and it does seem like he picks and chooses when it affects her such as when she carries that goddamn oxygen tank up and down the stairs to prove a point. That still pisses me off to no end as you can sit and bitch at everyone else for having a lesser cancer than you but then jeopardise your health just to prove a goddamn point. No it isn’t strength of character, it bloody stupid and I want to bitch slap her. Hazel having lung tumours is just so she can go on about drowning for the pay off at the end when she feels the same sensation after Augustus dies but that has no impact as she does this all the time. Only once did she seems genuinely distressed about the feeling in her lungs and that was when she was rushed to the ICU. Other than that she just spouts poetic bullshit about water and drowning. Those tumours are just there to be a metaphor for her teenage wangst. If this was a better book that actually dealt with the unpleasant sides of cancer and showed the true story, then I may have been more forgiving but this just insults me as it using a horrific cancer just so Hazel can spout pretentious purple prose.
Then there is the issue with the drug that has stabilised Hazel’s lung tumours. It is a completely made up drug and as the author couldn’t be bothered to tell us what cancers it attacks then as the reader I am just going to assume that it applies to all cancers. It is an experimental drug but has worked for 30% of those who have taken it. Hazel’s tumours are not growing anymore and has gone four years with the same result. Hazel naturally thinks this is shit as she is a pessimistic piss ant who needs to shit on anything hopeful as hope is for stupid peasants. But 30% success is amazing! That would be considered a highly successful drug for those whose situations are dire. This strikes me as another research fail as normally 30% does sound pretty grim but when put with an experimental cancer drug then that is a fantastic result. Remember: research is your friend!
Next up is the pretentious dick that is Augustus. Our little love interest has osteosarcoma which he has had twice, the first time we never saw what happened but he did have his leg amputated and has been in remission until our book begins. Through the book we learn that his cancer has returned and it is implied that it started in the bones again but then quickly spread throughout his body but we don’t know where. Now, I asked my Mum about this particular cancer and she said it is the most excruciating cancer you can have and death is incredibly painful. Yet, we never see the pain. All we see is him wincing occasionally in Amsterdam which is very unlikely and I don’t care that he is probably trying to be a manly man. You could blame this on Hazel as our narrator being an unobservant and self-centred bitch (she totally is) and does not notice as she has to sit and go on about drowning and how everyone else is a goddamn pleb. However, they do have an off screen shag but not once is it mentioned afterwards that he may have been experiencing discomfort and how would he have been able to do this if he has terminal bone cancer? That could have been excellent foreshadowing rather than no symptoms whatsoever then BAM! He is dying. I decree this bloody lazy and stupid for the sake of ZOMG! PLOT TWIST! Jesus Christ, this could have been foreshadowed well but that takes effort which needs to take a back seat when instead we can have ridiculous metaphors and monologues. Priorities people!
Next on our conga line of medical fail is when Augustus has his tube feed removed accidentally. Now this is very difficult to happen, it doesn’t just pop out when it feels like it to cause maximum drama. It needs a bloody good tug to be removed so I must ask what on earth was Augustus doing in that garage to cause this? Did he do a back flip and fall? It makes no sense! I need sense!
Well sadly the author can’t stop poking me with his stick made out of medical fail in his hopes of breaking me. He has to have Augustus covered in vomit, once again I asked my Mum who has a ton of experience with feeding tubes and said that this would not happen and it is just used for cheap drama. She said he would need to go to the hospital ASAP to get reinserted but there would be no reason for vomit. This was meant to be a tragic moment but due to lack of research then it just fails. The guy is terminal from an agonising cancer, why not use one of the many symptoms from that? Probably not dramatic enough which just pisses me off as it seems like Hazel’s bloody lung tumours for the sake of metaphor again. I’m starting to wonder if the author is allergic to research. Once again, this scene reminded me of Breaking Dawn, when Bella is about to birth the demon spawn and vomits a fountain of blood for the sake of drama but falls flat as she was drinking litres of blood so she probably just vomited the blood, that takes the drama away slightly. Same as this, the tube being detached is serious but not to the level of drama that this is portrayed. Why sanitise the unpleasant aspects of cancer so much but then do this, it just seems like cheap and crappy drama.
Next up is the romantic Holocaust defacement (there fixed it) trip to Amsterdam and this ticks so many medical fail boxes that I wanted to start gnawing at the book. Basically all that needs to be said is that:
THIS TRIP WOULD NOT HAPPEN!
Goddamn, you want me to explain why don’t you? Blergh! Well, *cracks knuckles* time to rip this shit apart. There is no way in hell that these two would be able to go on this trip and here are the reasons:
- Medical Insurance: How could they afford the medical and travel insurance to go on this trip? No, I don’t care that the Genies seem to have a hoard of Nazi gold at their feet. The insurance alone would cost hundreds of thousands. These are two teenagers with terminal cancer, one of which is stupidly rare. What if Hazel relapsed while they were away? That is a shit ton of money and I really doubt this would be granted. Actually I know it wouldn’t. Why? See below.
- Insurance Companies: Insurance companies will not grant travel insurance to those that have very serious medical issues. In the last instalment I spoke of my loved one who has terminal brain cancer and his dream was to see the Northern Lights. That was only a 2 hour flight and the travel insurance point blank refused to insure him so he couldn’t go on the trip. No insurance company would grant them insurance especially when it is a transatlantic flight. Especially after Hazel was sent to the ICU only a few weeks before. This trip is impossible.
- Medical Staff: Hazel’s doctor is a fucktard for saying she can go as she needs to live her life and sends her off with only her mother as a chaperone. Hazel has a rare cancer and would at least need someone in the medical profession who knows her case well in case the worst could happen while they are away. I know why it’s only Hazel’s mother is the one to chaperone and that is so she will be a stupid doormat who lets two incredibly sick children run around a foreign city alone. Stupidity for the sake of plot after all. If this nonsensical trip was allowed to happen then there is no way in hell that they could go without medical supervision. Also no! Hazel’s mother doesn’t count as Hazel is not the only one who is terminal. The audience may not know but Augustus is terminal too and it turns out everyone else knows except Hazel. How would a minor be allowed on this trip with no one who knows his case? This is so stupid that I may just explode.
I can almost hear the distant cry of “IT’S JUST A PIECE OF FICTION!”
This is a book that is lauded as a realistic depiction of cancer and those who suffer from it. Yet, this book has the audacity to hand wave points that I have made. There are some things you can just hand wave but not serious research failure just like this for the sake of plot. They could have handled the disappointment and grown from it or just have van Houten live somewhere in the USA and they could have bonded on the drive but then again there wouldn’t have been any famous Holocaust memorials to deface. No, I will never get over that! The author wanted them to go to Amsterdam (because he lived there for a bit) and that is where they will go, logic be damned bitches!
Jesus, that was a massive ball of a fail.
I wish the last section was another massive ball of fail but sadly it isn’t. I may be wrong but this read to me as the biggest load of bullshit and pisses me off to no end. It naturally involves Hazel Fucking Lancaster and probably a very controversial statement. I said about my suspicions about why she had that cancer. Well here we go:
Hazel Snowflake Lancaster has the Mary Sue of Cancer.
Before you start sharpening your pitch forks, please hear me out! I said that her cancer was odd and a combination of honouring a friend and a goddamn metaphor. Well I think it is more than that. I researched the most common cancers that affect children:
- Wilms (Kidney)
Three out five of those cancers have been featured in this book. Leukaemia was portrayed by the young boy who was shat on by Hazel for using the lift, osteosarcoma is Augustus and if you remember Caroline had brain cancer (I went into her in Part 2). Notice what they have in common? They all die either before or during this book.
Then there are the rare cancers that are portrayed:
- Appendix (Lida)
- Eye (Isaac)
- Thyroid but metastasised in the lungs (Hazel)
Two out of three of those are now in remission and effectively cured of their cancers. One big exception is Hazel. She may be stabilised but the author did reveal via Twitter that she died a year later but part of me thinks that it’s that awful Twu Luv trope where they can’t live without each other as they the Twuest Luv EVA!!! I have a feeling that she died due to Augustus not being a pretentious twat around her. I honestly just get that vibe to be honest.
The big point I want to make is that when I look at it that it seemed that Hazel couldn’t have a common child cancer as she is better than everyone else despite the mortality rate of those cancers. So she needed a very rare cancer to separate her from the others. This is fuelled by how she treats other cancer children and degrades those who ONLY have leukaemia but use the stairs. Hazel can’t just be a child with cancer, no she needs a rare cancer. Then we look at those who have rare forms of cancer. I already slammed how Lida was treated, she had a rare form of cancer but is in remission and she is therefore vilified by our protagonist. Isaac may not be slammed but he is effectively cured of his rare cancer and the consequences of what it took are pretty much brushed over. Why have a character arc when again you can focus on monologues and Holocaust memorial defacement? Those with rare cancer survive and that just screams to me that they survived solely to make Hazel look more special. She has a super rare cancer and even though she is stabilised she will die. I probably wouldn’t have gone into this if Hazel was a decent character. However, Hazel constantly thinks that she is far better and specialiast than anyone else. Considering a big part of her cancer was used to be a metaphor, to me it makes sense that she must have a super rare cancer with no hope to elevate her above all others. I really do feel that she was given the Mary Sue of cancer to shuv in our faces just how special and unique her situation is. I may be completely wrong but that is honestly the vibe I get.
Now I am done! That is the last of this recap/review and thank goodness for that. I loathed this book and I am glad to see the back of it. I find the messages and characters in this book disgusting. How this is inspirational is beyond me considering the main message seems to be just to roll over and die without bothering to do anything. I hate this book!
My next review will be far more light hearted as I will have a bash at a film. I doubt I will do many films but my God I have to review this film. I hope you have enjoyed this and: