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Divergent

Book #11: Divergent
by Veronica Roth

This book was recently lent to me by a friend because they knew I liked The Hunger Games and figured I would like this series as well! Well, they were right (so far…)

Divergent has been compared to The Hunger Games series and I’ve read that it is described as being very similar. I disagree. The only true similarities are the post-apocalyptic settings and that the main character from both books is a tough girl.

I liked Divergent because I actually liked Tris. I’ve heard people say they didn’t like her, that she was mean or annoying, but I didn’t find her so. That is, yes she was rather mean sometimes but she wasn’t a “mean character” if you get what I mean. She wasn’t evil, she did mean things, but not for the sake of being mean (usually); she did mean things because she’s human.
To call her by her true name, Beatrice was a daredevil but she still had that human kindness from her Abnegation upbringing. Also, as she was a divergent she thought more about what she did than the others did, she was more methodical in her methods of training. With the shooting and knife throwing she would pay attention to things like posture and stance rather than a “pull-the-trigger-with-the-gun-pointing-at-the-target” kind of learning capacity. I admire her (not her selfishness of course, for she is selfish sometimes) but the way she stands up for her friends, and fights for what she believes. The way she makes the hard choice in life, to leave her family behind in order to follow her dreams. I admire that most, the courage to follow your dream and stand by your convictions even through hardship and opposition.

Eric was a clever nasty character, but he wasn’t an attractive nasty character. Sometimes the villains of stories can be intriguing. For example, Loki from Thor and The Avengers is a rather interesting and attractive villain (now I’m not referring to looks here, although he’s that kind of attractive too!) Eric had nothing attractive about him. He was nasty, crazy, cruel, insane, jealous, greedy, and traitorous.

Four was an intriguing  character. There’s so much we don’t know about him (although we learn more progressively through the book). He’s strange; he can be abrupt and mean, sometimes appearing cruel, he’s bossy and stuck up, although when he lets his guard down suddenly you remember, he’s just eighteen. That was something I ha a hard time accepting about Four, the fact that he was only eighteen, he seems so much older. When we discover who he truly is though… that was a plot twist I was not expecting!

Very brief summary (*WARNING: SPOILERS*)

The world has changed. After the last great war people divided into five factions by which to live in order to maintain peace and stability. Beatrice Prior’s family is of  the Abnegation faction. Abnegation believe in selflessness and devoting their lives to helping others. They volunteer, help the homeless, do the jobs no one really wants to do. This year Beatrice is sixteen and will choose the faction in which she will be initiated and live out the rest of her life. All the children her age must do this in a yearly ritual. First they have aptitude tests to determine which one of the five factions they are best suited for and then in the ceremony the next day, they make the final decision themselves. When Beatrice takes her aptitude test the results are inconclusive. She could be one of three factions, instead of being given the one suggested. She could be Abnegation, Dauntless, or Ertdite. This makes her what she learns is a “divergent”. It is dangerous to be known as a divergent, the test administrator changes her test results in the computer to read Abnegation, the faction Beatrice is from and then the test administrator warns her never to tell anyone she’s divergent. The next day Beatrice and her brother Caleb must choose their factions. The whole family expects Caleb will choose Abnegation, he suits it so well, but with Beatrice they are less sure. They can choose, Abnegation: Selflessness, Dauntless: Bravery, Candor: Honesty, Erudite: Knowledge, or Amity: Kindness. When the time comes Caleb goes forward, and to everyone’s shock, transfers to Erudite: Knowledge. Beatrice tries to convince herself to stay for her parents’ sake, but in the end, transfers to Dauntless: Bravery.
The initiation process for Beatrice is hard. She shortens her name, to Tris and, with the other fourteen initiates, some Dauntless-born, some not, she begins to fight for one of the ten spots open. If she is not in the top ten, she is left factionless, a reject, unaccepted by any faction. They learn to shot guns, how to fight in hand-to-hand combat, how to throw knives, how to plan attacks, and combat fear. At all costs they must mask fear. They are Dauntless, they are brave.
If you want to know how it turns out… well, read the book! 😉

All in all, 8 out of 10. I definitely liked The Hunger Games better, but I did read the vast majority of this book while waiting in a hotel hallway for an audition so I might have been slightly distracted 😉 Still, a very good book!

DFTBA!
– Becky

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Fitzwilliam Darcy: Gentleman

Fitzwilliam Darcy: Gentleman (3-book series)
Books #8: An Assembly Such as This, 9: Duty and Desire, 10: These Three Remain
by Pamela Aidan

Alrighty, Austen fans, flock around. If you haven’t read this series you should have. Pamela Aidan has created this three-book series to be a re-telling of the well-known Jane Austen novel, Pride and Prejudice, but in this series, the story is from the perspective of Mr. Darcy instead of (for the most part) Elizabeth Bennet.

Pamela Aidan has done a great job. She has broadened Mr. Darcy’s character to entices fans to fall in love with him even more than before (if that’s possible) and she also enlarges the reader’s view of Mr Bingley, his sisters Caroline Bingley and Mrs. Louisa Hurst,  and Darcy’s own sister Georgiana Darcy.

This review is short and late because I read the first two books of the series while I was in England a month or two ago, just know this, the books are great and any Austen fan will enjoy them immensely.  If you’re not an Austen fan, don’t worry, I’m sure your local library has a copy of Pride and Prejudice that you can take out and then you’ll be fully equipped to enjoy this lovely series. The books are a quick read and as they are written more recently than the original Pride and Prejudice, I find they are easier to read.

Spoiler-LESS summary.
The series is told from Mr Darcy’s perspective of his growing relationship with Miss Elizabeth Bennet. The story starts with Mr. Darcy’s friend, Mr. Bingley renting a house in Hertfordshire and the series ends with the infamous wedding… Whose wedding? My lips are sealed, you must read the story! =)

All in all, the series as a whole gets 8 1/2 our of 10 stars. All three books were equally well written, there was no lagging in the second book (as I find often happens in three-book series) and the story was well told. Recommended!

DFTBA!
–  Becky

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Book #7: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
by J.K. Rowling

I finally did it, I started reading Harry Potter! Everyone was telling m to for ages and the internet has loved the series since it first came out. I however had never read it, and never watched the movies. Being an avid internet-user however I knew the basic plot of the story, the main characters and a skeleton idea of how the series progressed because you can’t follow most video-bloggers or tumblr accounts without getting Harry Potter “spoilers”.

Well, I’ll just say it. I wasn’t blown away. I’m sorry avid fans, please don’t tear me apart or come murder me in my sleep! It’s just really not my type of book… I shan’t be finishing the series I’m afraid, but I can at least now say I’ve tried.
It my sound pious and get on your nerves, but I’m afraid I just couldn’t get over the whole aspect of witches and wizards being “good”. Witches and wizards are not good. They’re evil. Withcraft is evil and these books are glorifying it and making it look good.

Summary: (courtesy of the back of the book, Raincoast publication)

Harry Potter thinks he’s an ordinary boy – until he is rescued by an owl, taken to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learns to play Quidditch and does battle in a deadly duel. The reason: Harry Potter is a Wizard!

Sorry all, but that is my biased opinion. I won’t put a rating on this one because the reason I didn’t like it had nothing to do with the writing, but the topic. The writing style was fine but it was obvious that The Philosopher’s Stone was written as a children’s book and thereby didn’t grab my attention in the same way an adult book does.

DFTBA!
– Becky.

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The Wind in the Willows

Book #6: The Wind in the Willows
by Kenneth Grahame (children’s fiction)

So this was just a quicky read for fun so it’ll be a quicky review to match! When I was a kid we owned the “Four Seasons” VHS box set (boy, that ages me!) of “The Wind in the Willows” which I loved, but I realized a couple weeks ago I’d never actually read the original stories even though the book was sitting on one of the living room shelves. So I fixed that this week.

The stories are adorable, they’re quick, they’re for children, they’re sweet, they’re funny, and as an eighteen year old, I still enjoyed them! Although as an eighteen year old I instantly pictured “Rat” as Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and “Mole” as John Watson (Martin Freeman) so…

The book follows the story of four friends, Mole, Ratty, Toad, and Badger and their lives and occasional adventures. It begins with Mole in his burrow alone, not knowing anyone, but he gets a bit of spring fever, comes out of his burrow and quite quickly thereafter, meets the Water Rat. Mole is so enchanted with The River and with Ratty’s lifestyle that he moves in with him (seeing the “Sherlock” similarities yet? ;D) and soon gets to know Ratty’s friends, Otter, Mr Toad, and Badger. They all are very merry (except Badger who sticks to himself most of the time…) and they have some good laughs, find Otter’s son when he goes missing, and try (note the “try”) to keep Toad out of trouble.

It’s very light and  easy reading, obviously directed at children, but still enjoyable for adults! (or for the young at heart or something…)
All in all, 8 out of 10. Well written, happy ending, but it’s a kids book so it wasn’t exactly intellectually challenging =D

I’ve got a trip to the library planned, got a bunch of books people have recommended I read to get! Talk to you soon!
DFTBA
– Becky

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The Hunger Games

Book #3 (of 2012): The Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins (young adult fiction)

Okay so here it goes,
The book: The Hunger Games
The author: Suzanne Collins

There you got all the information, now go buy it. Forget the library, there’s a reason you’ll be the 98th person in the queue for the book, just buy it and read it and then pay it forward.

John Green says something wonderful in his book The Fault in Our Stars which completely applies to how I feel about The Hunger Games, “Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” (Page 33) There, now you know why you must read this book, the world will not be fixed until you do.

I had heard about The Hunger Games, knew lots of people liked the book, knew there was a movie coming out, saw some gifs on tumblr…eventually I decided to see what all the hullabulloo was about. Then I remembered last year, one lunch hour at school a friend in my class had been reading this book and I picked it up to read the back/first few pages. Two chapters in and at the end of lunch hour she pried it from my hands and I never remembered the author to track a copy down in the library. Then all this ruckus started with the movie coming out and I went to the library to try and get a copy.
I was 99th on the list with 6 books in the city.
The next day I was at work and saw the softcover copies were on for 40% off so I decided “What the heck, I don’t normally buy books without reading them, but if I don’t like it, for this price, I can resell it off to one of those die-hard fans!”
Ya that ain’t happening…

So Friday, I bought it.
It’s Saturday. I LOVE it. I will keep it. In fact I’m gonna go buy hard copies of all three of the books and then give away my softcover version. That’s right GIVE away, I need to give someone the opportunity to read this book without charging them.

Basic spoilerLESS (that means no plot spoilers) summary:
The Hunger Games is a post-apocalyptic novel about North America, after, (wait for it) the apocalypse. (high fives for cap’n obvious there!) What remains of the continent is the Capital, Panem, and it’s outlying districts, of which there are twelve. Originally there were thirteen but years before the book takes place there was a rebellion among the districts against the capital and the capital struck back, destroying district 13 and leaving the other districts quite aware that they were little better than slaves. As a reminder that rebellion is a bad idea the Capital hosts the annual “Hunger Games”. In these Games each district sends in two “tributes”, a boy and a girl to compete in the arena in the capital. The twenty-four 12-18 years olds chosen through a draw are then put in an arena and forced to kill each other for the entertainment of the citizens of the Capital who watch through televised  broadcast off of the cameras that are hidden throughout the arena. The last tribute standing wins and (get this!) gets to live and be provided with food (because food is scarce in many of the districts and starvation is not uncommon). The story follows two of the tributes as they go from their district to as far as they can get in the Games.
**From here on I do not apologize for spoilers; consider yourself warned.**

I love Katniss Everdeen. Katniss is the female tribute from district 12 (the lowest of the districts) I love how we start seeing her vulnerable with Prim and with Gale while hunting with him, and then we see her possibly giving up her life to keep her sister safe. I love that she thinks, she’s clever, she’s a survivor. I like that she is so humble about her skills, they’re just there, they’re nothing to boast about but she’s confident in them; she doesn’t boast about them, but she’s well-aware of them. Somehow she manages to be so likeable while being unlikable and sullen. I like that she doesn’t give up and that when she has an opportunity to win with Peeta, she goes for it, even though he’s wounded and will slow her down and make her an easier target herself. She works so hard to treat him, she works for that broth and medicine from the sponsors. I like being able to watch her slowly get confused about how she feels for Peeta. As the reader, we’re sure she’s in love, but she is utterly confused… Also, before the games her delight about the dresses that district 12’s stylist, Cinna, creates for her makes her seem more girly and watching her slowly become (more or less) friends with him is also neat, we see that Katniss doesn’t trust without time and reason to.

Peeta Mellark is also a wonderfully thought out character. He’s utterly charming in the sweetest way possible. He loves Katniss, this is something we learn along with Katniss very suddenly and rather surprisingly during his pre-Games interview, but it’s something that once we know it, clicks into place and makes perfect sense. Of course Peeta loves Katniss! How could it have been otherwise!? But Katniss…does she love Peeta or Gale? Or either…? Peeta is open and real and sweet and yet in the Games he’s strategic and clever. He keeps Katniss safe by appearing to side with the “careers” (the term used for the tributes from the better cared for districts where the tributes are trained for the games as careers). Then, once he’s injured, he continues to think of her and worry about her. Once she finds him, all he wants is for her to survive, he’s doesn’t care if he lives Peeta just wants Katniss to win the Games. He is very humble and very caring even when it puts him into danger. We, as the reader, feel his pain at the end of the book when he realizes most of Katniss’ affection for him has been strategic, to keep herself (and partially him ) alive. We understand how hurt he is by this, he thought it was real, and Katniss herself is completely unsure if it is or not. Even through that “betrayal” by Katniss though, Peeta doesn’t get angry or bitter, he’s hurt, that’s obvious, but he’s not going to hate Katniss for it. That’s admirable.

I also feel that Haymitch deserves an honourable mention. He’s district 12’s only living previous Games winner (they’ve only ever had two though…) and is the town drunkard. He makes a fool of himself at the district’s “reaping” (the drawing of the tribute’s names in each district) and manages to stay drunk until Peeta and Katniss take a stand against it. As their “mentor” he’s a big factor in how things go for them in the arena. He arranges sponsors to send them gifts during the games (food, or medicine, something they might be needing) and he decides when the things get sent. When he sees them take a stand against his drinking I think it wakes something up in him. He realizes they haven’t given up on themselves and that they want a running chance in this so he agrees to stay sober (enough) to be of help to them and in all fairness, he ends up being a great help to them. Katniss and Haymitch don’t openly get along, but being very similar they understand each other. When he allows “gifts” to be sent her in the arena or withholds them, she is able to work out why they’re been sent or kept back. In this way they are able to strategize, and in the end, keep Katniss and Peeta alive.

All in all I’d give this book a 9 1/2 out of 10. It’s a wonderful book, but I didn’t cry. Now granted, I may have read it too fast, but as it stands, it didn’t catch my emotions the way some books do. Still a great book though! Well worth the read!

DFTBA!
– Becky

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult

The Hobbit

Book #2 (of 2012): The Hobbit
by JRR Tolkien (Fantasy)

This is my second time reading this book (yes only my second!) I first read it when I was twelve and read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy all in one month in order to be allowed to watch the movies…

I like this book; it’s the easiest of JRR’s books to read in my opinion. This may be because it was originally written to be a children’s book, or it may be because it’s a one-book story instead of a three-book story… either way I find there’s less beating around the bush and more doing in this story.

I love watching Bilbo grow from a timid little hobbit, to running a group of dwarves, it’s quite amusing! And of course this round of reading I couldn’t help but picture Martin Freeman (Dr Watson from BBC’s Sherlock) as Bilbo, and Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes from BBC’s Sherlock) as Smaug the dragon. They’re both going to be brilliant in The Hobbit movie that’s coming out in December. Benedict’s voice is perfect to be the sly dragon and Martin really looks very Hobbitish when you think about it!

I like that this book is an adventure story and a well laid out one. It’s exciting – you want to know what’s going to happen next! To be honest, I prefer the story line and pace of this book to the LOTR books. I love the story of the LOTR books, don’t get me wrong, but the three-book pace makes them a bit of a trial to get through and jumping back and forth from story-line to story-line (in the last two books in particular) means that they’re nothing like easy reading – you have to work at keeping stories and timing straight. The Hobbit is a gentler book with one storyline to keep straight and is fun and well written. I’ve got a thing for kids/teen books so maybe that’s why I like this one so much =D

The descriptions in this book are also very good – lots of descriptions about the Mirkwood forest, Beorn, the trolls, the Hobbit’s hole, the Lonely Mountain and surrounding area etc… it makes it very easy to picture what’s going on which, I believe, helps the reader to get into the story more. In LOTR (from what I remember when last reading the books six years ago) the descriptions are a lot longer and although the imagery is great, it can get boring.

*BASIC summary with SPOILERS*

Bilbo Baggins is a very respectable hobbit living in Hobbiton, who doesn’t have adventures and who associates with al the right people. One day Gandalf, a wizard he remembers from when he visited Hobbiton when Bilbo was a boy, visits Bilbo. He arranges for Bilbo to go on an adventure with thirteen dwarves led by none other than Thorin Oakenshield, to the Lonely Mountain to recover the gold of their forefathers, stolen from them by Smaug the dragon. Mr Baggins takes some convincing but agrees to the journey for the reward of one fourteenth of any profits. Gandalf travels with them a way as they go through to Rivendell, visiting with the Elves, and over the Misty Mountains where they fight the goblins and where Bilbo meets Gollum. In his adventure with Gollum Bilbo also find a magic ring that belonged to Gollum for a while and which allows him to disappear and walk unseen, except in strong daylight where a faint shadow can be seen.  Once he escapes Gollum and finds his friends down in the forest past the mountains, Mr. Baggins, Gandalf and the Dwarves are fenced in by wild wargs and goblins, then to be rescued by the eagles. From there they go to Carrock and stay with Beorn the skin-changer. At the entrance to the Mirkwood forest Gandalf leaves the dwarves and the Hobbit to go on alone. In the forest they deal with disappearing feasts, giant spiders, enchanted streams, and a suspicious Elf king. It is in the forest that Bilbo steps up to the plate and truly begins to prove his worth. Once they escape the make it down to Lake Town where they are hailed with great excitement as warriors who will defeat the dragon and make the rivers run with gold.  They make their way to the Lonely Mountain and mostly thanks to Bilbo find the secret entrance onto the mountain and then Bilbo gets Smaug, the dragon’s attention and eventually irks him into coming out of his cavern and trying to find “the burglar”. Smaug flies off to lake town where he believes the thief (Bilbo) to have come from. At Lake Town Bard, a decedent from the Lord of Dale of old, takes control and begins to organize a fight against the dragon. He ends up killing Smaug and helping to organize the aftermath of the dragon’s attack. The Elfking comes to help with the temporary rebuilding of the town and then the men of Laketown led by Dale and the Elvish company with the Elfking go to see what’s become of the dwarves, Bilbo, and of the dragon’s rumored gold hoard. The title of “King under the Mountain” has gone a bit to Thorin’s head and he has a bit of a hissy fit when Bard and the Elfking ask for what the dragon took from them and added to their stores. Thorin has sent news calling his cousin Dalin to come to his aid but unbeknownst to any of them (except perhaps Gandalf, who it turns out is with the company of Elves and Men come to speak with Thorin at the Lonely Mountain) the goblins with the wargs are coming for revenge against the dwarves. A battle ensues, known later as the battle of the five armies, for Dalin arrives with his dwarf warriors and fights with the Elves, the men of Laketown, and Thorin and company against the goblins and wargs. Beorn comes part way through to aid against the goblins.
In the end, Thorin is mortally wounded but makes peace with Bilbo before dying. Kili and Fili, his nephews and part of the original thirteen dwarves who travelled with Bilbo, also die defending Thorin in battle. Bilbo gets his share of the treasure, as does Bard of Laketown and the Elfking. Gandalf, Beorn, and Bilbo finally head off in the direction of home. After parting with Beorn at Carrock Gandalf and Bilbo make to Rivendell and then on to Hobbiton where they arrive in the middle of an auction. But not just any auction…! It is the auction of the property of the late Bilbo Baggins. The arrival of a quite alive Bilbo Baggins rather upsets this event and he ends up having to buy a number of his own things back from people. After his yearlong departure and abrupt return Bilbo is never quite the same, he is no longer deemed respectable, but “queer”. He is an elf-friend, he entertains dwarves, he writes poetry, and he tells alarming tales of adventures he’s been on. One thing he never tells of though, is his golden ring, his magic ring, his precious…

Overall: Nice out of Ten stars. I didn’t cry ;D

DFTBA!
– Becky

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The Fault in Our Stars

Book #1 (of 2012): The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green (Young Adult fiction)

How can John write such fantastically, yet terribly sad books? He must cry writing these, I don’t care that guys want girls to think they don’t cry. A guy would be INHUMAN not to cry reading this book.

My head aches from crying. Normally when I cry reading I just have tears silently streaming down my face, I exaggerate and say I bawled. This book, I don’t need to exaggerate. For the last third of the book I had to put it down every few pages to cry, to crunch my body into a tight little ball and cry and cry. But then I had to pick it up again, you can’t put it down until you’re more composed because the tears, the sadness, they are all part of the experience, part of the book; they add to it, they make it real.

The characters aren’t all depressing though, they’re not what make the book sad. They’re funny, they have brilliant personalities, they have hilarious humours and they’re fun. This is the kind of book where one page you’re bawling and the next you’re laughing through your tears =)

John writes such believable characters with Hazel, Augustus, and Isaac; they’re so human, so humany-wumany. They’re people that I would love to meet, to hang out with, to know. John has written a story about kids with cancer, but never once did I find myself pitying them because of their cancer. I felt bad for them because of the normal events that happened but not once did I think, “Oh poor Hazel, she has cancer”. It’s made them people, not their disease. This is not a book about kids with cancer, this is a book about friendship, about love, about life, oh-and-by-the-way, the main characters have cancer.

I finished the book and turned on my camera to try and record my immediate reaction. I opened my mouth and no sound came out. There is nothing to be said. This is the best book I’ve ever read. I suspect I said something similar about Paper Towns, but you see, I hadn’t read The Fault in Our Stars yet at that point.

I was unsure about buying this book, unsure if it would be a book I’d want to own. I didn’t know the basic plotline, the reason I bought it was because the bookstore near my workplace had signed copies and I wanted one.
I’m really glad I bought that pink J-scribbled book.  I feel like people who haven’t read it are robbing themselves of a wonderful experience, but like Hazel says, “There are books like [The Fault in Our Stars], which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.” (TFIOS Page 33) That is why I will impersonally advertise the book, through text on a website, it will keep the special feeling of TFIOS being my book, not to be shared.

PLOTLINE WITH SPOILERS! DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT YET READ THE BOOK! SPOILERS ALERT!

Hazel Grace Lancaster is sixteen and has cancer. It means she has to be hooked up to an oxygen tank all the time to keep enough oxygen in her infected lungs. For now she’s stable, cancer is controlled and she can live a more or less normal life. Well, for a cancer-patient. Under the recommendation of her doctor and the insistence of her mother she attends a weekly support group that meets in a nearby church. She has one friend here, Isaac. He only has one eye, the cancer took the other. One day Hazel is again forced to attend support group but comes to find Isaac has brought a friend who is a cancer survivor (although it took one of his legs), Augustus Waters, a long, lean, hott seventeen year old with a smooth sexy voice. After support group they’re introduced and Hazel ends up going to Augustus’ house to watch V for Vendetta, as he thinks she looks like Natalie Portman.  They talk about books, Hazel tells him her favourite is An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten, his favourite book is The Price of Dawn, based off of his favourite video game. He agrees to read her favourite on the condition she read his, which he lends her then and there. They’re both true to their word and end up enjoying each other’s books.
Hazel and Augustus begin dating, Isaac’s cancer returns and he ends up loosing his other eye and being left blind. His girlfriend dumps him before the surgery though, which really, really cuts him up. Hazel and Gus stick by him though and try and help him through.
The two of them both write to Peter Van Houten (the author of An Imperial affliction) about his “unfinished” books and Augustus (who emailed) gets a reply. He decides to use his cancer-Wish to take Hazel to Amsterdam, where they’ve been invited to meet Van Houten where he’s living in seclusion.  It’s all being planned when Hazel has a relapse. Things look pretty bleak but she recovers and they manage to take the trip and go (with Hazel’s mum) to meet the one and only Peter Van Houten, Hazel’s favourite author (who *SPOILER* ends up being an alcoholic jerk). While in Amsterdam Augustus tells Hazel that around the time she had her relapse, he found out his cancer had returned. Everywhere. His whole body was an inflamed mass of cancer. (This is about halfway/two-thirds through the book and, warning, this is where I started to cry. I didn’t stop until the book finished, even a little bit after it finished…)
They return home and gradually Gus’ cancer gets worse and worse. He’s dying and there’s no way around it. Hazel visits everyday, she still loves him, he loves her and he wants to write her a sequel to An Imperial Affliction after Van Houten refuses to explain the unfinished ending to them. He can’t though, he’s too weak. They both agree they want each other to write their eulogy for their funerals.
One evening Augustus calls Hazel and asks her to write a eulogy and meet him at the church where they had the support meetings. She does and finds him and Isaac there. Gus has arranged a prefuneral so he can hear his best friends’ eulogies for him. (This scene is heart-wrenching, the kind of crying where you scrunch your body up trying to make the pain go away as you’re crying in gasping breaths, trying to blink back the tears because you can’t stop reading).
Eight days later, he dies.
His funeral happens, Hazel writes a different eulogy to read, less personal. Then a while later she visits Isaac and they try to distract themselves playing video games. At some point Isaac mentions that Gus was writing something for her and she immediately thinks of the promised An Imperial Affliction sequel. She tries to find it, asks his parents about it, looks in his room, on his computer, doesn’t find anything. His parents eventually find a notebook that was by his hospital bed but the first four pages are torn out and can’t be found. When Hazel’s friend Kaitlyne calls, she suggests that he mailed the to her, or, perhaps, they weren’t for Hazel at all.
With the idea that the pages weren’t for her in mind Hazel contacts Van Houten’s (former) assistant in Amsterdam and she goes to Van Houten’s house and finds, sure enough, Augustus has sent the pages to Van Houten. Van Houten, reads them and says to send them to Hazel.
It’s a eulogy.
Augustus wrote her the eulogy she wanted. The gorgeous heartfelt, personal eulogy from her boyfriend. Gus had mailed it to Van Houten with the hope that he could turn his notes into a well versed eulogy, but he didn’t change anything, he just sent it straight to Hazel and it’s beautiful.

Overall: Ten out of Ten. So sad, and I wish Gus hadn’t had to die, but he did or the story would have been all wrong. It’s beautiful. John Green, I salute you.

DFTBA
– Becky

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Filed under Book Review, Fiction, Young Adult