I’m biased when it comes to stories like this. I don’t have cancer, but I do have an illness that will one day kill me. I can understand the emotions Green wrote about better than a lot of people.
However, I just couldn’t connect with this book. The two main characters seemed like two halves of the same coin. Yes, teens can have deep, thoughtful discussions about life and death and what it all means. But they don’t always use big words and extreme metaphors to do it. They don’t sound like 30 year old trapped in teen bodies. I get that these are Green’s characters and he can write them how he wants. But I think I would have liked reading these teen’s words if they spoke like teens. You can have the same meaningful talks without coming across as slightly pretentious.
I’ll admit to not crying once during this book. I didn’t even tear up. Maybe that makes me heartless, but there was just something missing and I think it goes back to how the characters thought and talked. They weren’t teens in my head. It wasn’t a teen romance centered on teens with cancer facing death. Facing a terminal illness makes you grow up a lot faster than anyone else, it’s true. But it still doesn’t make you an adult. It makes you a teen with some of the worst cards life can deal.
The whole plot around Van Houten just felt unrealistic and forced. This book could have been just as thought provoking without the trip to Amsterdam. You don’t need a huge trip to someplace special to have the same impact on readers.
For all the hype that surrounded this book, I felt extremely let down. It wasn’t what I thought it would be and left me feeling a little more annoyed than sad.