September 8, 2015

Facebook, Dissertation and The Fault in Our Stars

Facebook has been rather annoying lately so I kind of stayed away from the feed. But I still have to log in for work - Master Trainers, NUTMEG and some other stuff (sometimes I wish people at work would learn how to Tumblr so I don't have to deal with the side-garbage of Facebook but that is beside the point), so it's still very annoying. Thus I have unfriended some really bitter people - people who hate on others for being happy, people who hate on politicians because their friends do, school teachers who hate school work, school teachers who write horrid things about their students, people who are generally driven by hate and anger for no apparent reason - what the hell are they even doing on social media? Too much negativity that I don't need. Too much idiocy to scroll by. Waste of time.

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Dissertation is still annoying. What with school work and other stuff to do, what with meetings and the implementation of the new teaching-learning cycle - I just couldn't find the time to work out the chapters. Truth is I couldn't find the time to work out anything. Once in a while I keep asking myself if I'm ever gonna make it. Funny thing is my friends keep telling me I will. How and where they manage to find the courage to believe in something so overwhelming, I need to find out, because I couldn't bring myself to even visualize the light at the end of the tunnel. It's a terribly long way, the tunnel. What's even more terrible though, is the fact that I don't even care anymore. It's like, hey I'm lost but yeah OK.

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People who tell me John Green's The Fault in Our Stars is a very, very good book are by far the most annoying. I'm never gonna pick up any other title from whoever if ever they would suggest some in the future. I've read TFIOS some time ago, out of curiosity - because everyone everywhere was talking about it. Three excruciatingly long hours were spent (regrettably) on a highly overrated book. Damn. You can't tell me I'm wrong - I'm entitled to my opinion and this is MY blog so I'm gonna say hey, your recommendation sucked. I don't hate the book - it's a fairly safe book. Nothing controversial, nothing morally and intellectually challenging, two white teenagers in love and one of them died, so yeah. It just doesn't live up to the hype. I knew Augustus was gonna die the moment Hazel said she was gonna tell their story - so when he told her he lit up like a Christmas tree, I rolled my eyes in frustration. Cheese factory. It was like John Green was screaming at me in caps that HAZEL IS THE SICK ONE SO SHE'S GONNA DIE, NOT AUGUSTUS DESPITE HIS ACTING STRANGE AND MAKING IT SO OBVIOUS THAT HE IS KEEPING SECRETS - I mean come on. Was there really anyone who did not see that coming? You must have been reading the wrong books. Your bookshelf definitely needs a makeover. Give me a call. I'll help you with that.

Some other things about the book that rubbed me the wrong way throughout the entire read include how the characters' dialogues were purple. I can deal with purple prose written in love letters, or mental notes, or if the setting of the story is a century back but not like in TFIOS; where it's the 21st century and Augustus the ex-basketballer if I remember right - despite not showing even the slightest inclination towards poetry or literature - spews crap like, "My thoughts are stars that cannot be fathomed into constellations" in freaking everyday conversations, where the main characters decide on 'OK' as their 'always', and where even cancer is romanticized. Purple prose does not work in this setting. It's just wrong. It's out of place.

What disturbs me more however, is the ridiculously irresponsible parents Hazel has - her mother literally places her life in the hands of another teenager to go on an adventure in a place, an entirely different continent where they don't even speak the language there - no sane parents would do that, nope. Not with the daughter constantly needing oxygen supply and dying at the same time. Not with the boyfriend dying, too. And where were Augustus' parents? Seriously. He lit up like a Christmas tree, remember? Don't tell me they aren't informed of it and even so! His cancer is terminal. He really was dying! How did the hospital decide on letting these two teenagers go on their own? Are the doctors out of their minds?

And of course, how their cancer is only used when it's convenient to the flow of the plot - in the beginning of the story, the pages reeked with cancer and inevitable death but as the story progresses nothing much about cancer was brought into the narration. Heck, the cancer didn't even make an appearance during their sexual intercourse when it was narrated earlier (or later, can't remember) that Hazel couldn't even make it up a staircase without losing her breaths - I mean, think about it. That's a pretty dick move out of many by John Green if you ask me.

There are many other things that I would love to rant on - the overly dramatic and severely rushed nature of Hazel and Augustus' relationship (they took one month and it's certified true love), medical realism being disregarded throughout the story (you can't have cancer and be a teenager and go on an adventure with a boyfriend who is also dying of cancer without an accompanying nurse, no!), and the on-and-off continuity of their medical complications (you're 16 and you can't even function without an oxygen tank and you had sex without breaking a sweat, right?) but I really have to re-work my research proposal so I'll stop now. Man. 

I know some John Green fangirls are gonna tell me I'm wrong and that if the book is bad, why is it so successful? Easy, it has the same formula as Twilight - a teenage girl who doesn't see herself as hot but lives in a world where everyone likes her and thinks she is hot, a teenage boy who happens to be the hottest thing in the universe of the story falls in love with the said teenage girl and no conflict exists between the characters except ones that are convenient to the storyline - very safe formula, very easy to pull, thus the success. Also, personally and very judgmentally, I think it's immensely popular among younger readers for the pompous, grandiose quotes that make them feel intelligent, or deep or maybe even philosophical (See: is just a shout out into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor is returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have.) But really, if we're talking themes and symbolism or maybe prose and motifs; they exist in very, very basic forms in the book. Which is why it's a painfully frustrating read, for me. At times it even felt hypocritical and disrespectful (cancer jokes, kissing in freaking Anne Frank's attic and getting an applause - I'm not even joking).

So yeah, no more titles from this man. And you, if you're one of those people who think TFIOS is somewhere near excellent or great, I will have some problems with you if you're to offer me some book recommendations. So we'll just leave it here. We'll stay reader and blogger. It's safer that way. Heh.

Stay safe. Stay inspired. Later.

7 scribbleback (s):

Liyanna Ahmad said...

Instead of reading the whole book, I stopped after the first paragraph.
I knew I made the right decision.

Anonymous said...

Haven't read the book, heard of the hype, saw the movie snippets, never felt the pull to see it. Now that you've likened it to Twilight, I will definitely steer clear of it. Complete drivel.


Nani Othman said...

liyanna ahmad,
i see. your intolerance of cheese factories is very high, it seems. glad to know that. haha.

hello there. =) please like whatever you want to, and read anything you want to. it's really not my intention to get people to steer clear of any book through my reviews. you might like it and i don't wanna be guilty of denying you that pleasure.

Feilong said...

my student recommend this book once. she said that it's very interesting, very romantic. but I didn't have any feeling when I saw the book in or mph online. never wanted to read this book in the first place....haha! i saw the movie (not really saw but glance) in HBO (if i'm not mistaken la) then dah tau this story is typical, and byk cliche.

am reading princess diaries. rasanya lebih baik princess diaries rather then TFIOS...haha!

Nani Othman said...

Haa, kanak2 mmg suka cerita mcm ni. I havent read princess diaries, but my college reading room has them. So maybe next time bleh try la. Tapi, hahaha, memang tak minat sangat pulak dgn modern princess story. Kalau nak fair, long try je tfios. Who knows, just because i think its bad doesnt mean you can't like it. :)

Feilong said...

memang in the first place long tak suka baca cerita tu. haha! princess diaries lawak. sebab tu baca. saje je nak try modern princess punya story. hehe.

Nani Othman said...

hahaha. cant blame you. sapa suruh john green romanticize cancer? lol.

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