So Hazel decides to read The Prince of Dawn. She says that it’s not An Imperial Affliction, and that the main character kills too many people for her liking. Then again, it’s Augustus’ book, so she won’t complain as much as if it was a book from say, Patrick.

She wakes up late on Thursday because her mother is so afraid of her that she doesn’t dare walk into her chambers. I wish. Actually, as the Gospel according to Hazel informs us, one of the unnecessarily capitalized requirements of a “Professional Sick Person” is sleeping a lot, and she’s surprised when her mother wakes her up at ten. Her mom tells her she has class and helps her get her oxygen tank ready.

Which begs the question, if Hazel knew she had class, why would she be surprised when her mother woke her up? Maybe between the complaints and philosophical crises, there’s no room for schedules?

Hazel and her mom talk about the book Auggie gave her, Hazel’s mom saying

“Did that boy give it to you?”

To which Hazel replies

“By it, do you mean herpes?”

Which is neither funny nor polite. I know Green probably intended this to be lighthearted banter, but the way it reads I can’t help but feel like Hazel’s being rude. Her mom tells Hazel that she knows she likes him, and Hazel says

“as if this observation required some uniquely maternal instinct”

Again, both Hazel’s thoughts and words are pretty damn dismissive, which makes me wonder how in the hell these people put up with their daughter on a daily basis.

Luckily, talk turns from boys to Hazel’s half birthday, which Hazel’s mom reacts to as if it was National Orgy Day.

“It’s Thursday, March twenty-ninth!” she basically screamed, a demented smile plastered to her face . . . HAZEL, IT’S YOUR THIRTHY-THIRD HALF BIRTHDAY!”

Yes, that caps-lock makes me uncomfortable too. And it continues for another paragraph. Maybe it’s a bit nit-picky, but the “basically” isn’t effective. It still confuses me how Green can have Hazel use all these pointless “teen” words and yet have her, as someone so eloquently put it, sound like she was beaten with a thesaurus. And I know this over-zealous glee from Hazel’s mom is supposed to be because her daughter is dying, but just feels like Stock Mom #1.

When people feel that others are close to death, they may try to make celebrations even more special, or celebrate more. But this feels like Hazel’s mom just took 1000mg dose of Ecstasy.

Hazel says she just wants to stay home and watch Top Chef, which brings me to another problem with this book. Sometimes a few pop culture references can bring a book flavor and develop its time period. But littering every page with reality TV shows feels clumsy. I don’t mind a few reality TV shows or celebrities or whatever, but if that’s all your characters talk about it’s going to seriously date your book for future generations. Plus, you can’t just write a teen character by making them like reality TV.

Luckily, Hazel’s mom suggests she interacts with other humans, and saves us from another description of Hazel watching TV. And then this:

“I take quite a lot of pride in not knowing what’s cool,” I answered.

the_whittler from The Sporkings of Das Mervin called this “the most hipster thing imaginable” which is true. I think that might be the definition of “hipster.”

Hazel next goes to school, and is bored by a lecture about Frederick Douglass. There’s texts from Kaitlyn that are put in their own line-break-y spaces. I don’t understand why we need to see the exact texts. A quick summation will do. Kaitlyn says she’ll meet Hazel at 3:32, because she is so busy she has a social life that “needs to be scheduled down to the minute.” At least that’s what Hazel says.

Hazel watches some kids at the mall climb around and around a jungle gym for “no reason” which makes her ponder Auggie’s “existentially fraught free throws.” Deep. Her mom is also watching her from afar, which isn’t weird at all. Kaitlyn comes over, and I get the feeling that Hazel probably doesn’t like her all that much.

She has a British accent, and Hazel notes that, “People didn’t find the accent odd or off-putting. Kaitlyn just happened to be an extremely sophisticated twenty-five-year old British socialite stuck inside a sixteen-year-old body . . . Everyone accepted it.”

Maybe, maybe, maybe, if she moved to Indianapolis. Hazel however, mentions later in the chapter that she hadn’t been in school with her school friends for three years. If Hazel is 17, then that means she would have been taken out of school in 8th grade. I highly doubt that Kaitlyn, since the time she was 12 or 13 just started talking with a British accent and kept it up for 4 years. It’s just silly.

They talk about boys first. As a girl, I already hear girls talk about boys. This is pointless filler dialogue. It does nothing to really advance the plot. I’m not a really a proponent of the Bechdel test, but this book has failed it, and noticeably. Hazel mentions Augustus but Kaitlyn doesn’t even say anything, and then Kaitlyn is ashamed that Hazel is reading sci-fi. I guess she’s supposed to be the subtle-bitch friend then. They go shoe shopping, we learn that Kaitlyn doesn’t like her second toes (¡quirky!). She also acts as if she has made a grave mistake when she says,

“I would just die if –.”

It’s not as if Kaitlyn just said she wishes she’d rather be burned alive to a burn victim or something. I don’t think that Kaitlyn would even recognize what she was saying unless someone pointed out that irony to her.

Then Hazel tells Kaitlyn she’s tired, and sits in the mall for the next two hours reading. They literally spent thirty minutes together, if Kaitlyn was there at 3:32. Hazel’s mom is picking her up at six, which means it must be four o’clock now if she has two hours. What a great friend.

Hazel says she really likes Kaitlyn, but only bothering to spend thirty minutes with her makes it feel like she actually hates her. I’ve had to spend far more time with people I dislike and didn’t feel the need to lie after a half hour to get out of it.

Hazel tells the reader that she feels that her friends are trying to help her, but they can’t. I remember when a girl at our school had cancer. She was even sort of mean, but people were always helping her and visiting her when she was in the hospital. I don’t think that Hazel’s friends would all abandon her just because she was sick. They may be more removed, but I’m not convinced that they’d drop her like a dead body. (Though I’m not sure that Hazel would approve of that metaphor).

Hazel gives us a nice page-long description about the soldier in Midnight Dawn and it’s very boring. Then a little girl asks her to try on her breathing tubes, which is called a cannula, but it feels more like it was placed there more than anything else. Green uses it as a way to segue into this

“[Attempts to make friends] were just depressing because [everyone felt strange around me because I had cancer], except maybe kids like Jackie who just didn’t know any better.”

And help me lord if I hadn’t used those brackets, because that sentence was insanely long and cluttered without them. So Hazel wraps up the chapter by telling us her literary hero lives. I’m starting to think that a better name for this book would be The Prince of Yawn, because that’s what it’s making me do.

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  1. The Smith of Lie on 25 June 2015, 05:12 said:

    I am still not convinced that Hazel does not suffer from dissociative personality disorder. Or Green can’t write consistent characters. But my head canon about split personality is more fun.

    I know that real people are not paper cut outs and can have varied interests, but Hazel is giving me a whiplash by switching from that “average teen as seen by adults] who seems to be pretty into multiple reality shows and the affectation of deep, cultured loner nihilist. Maybe it just my disdain for reality shows as bane of all intelect, but those two images don’t mesh well together. Also, they nor more make Hazel three dimensional character than sticking two cardboard cutouts together.

    Sad part is that this chapter is where is see some potential for interesting developements. Mother’s false cheer and interacting with her peers (of course Hazel probably considers them her inferiors) could highlight how people around cancer patient treat them, the question of how sincere their behaviours are and how much is just pity? There could be a justified sense of isolation shown here. Clunky as it is, I think that this last sentence sort of works. It doesn’t matter wheather it is true – this is Hasel’s impression of others and it affects her overall perception of reality.

    If only it was bit more down to earth, this could have been pretty good stuff.

    Also – having protagonist kill too many people is a pretty vague complaint.

  2. Resistance on 25 June 2015, 09:15 said:

    Sad part is that this chapter is where is see some potential for interesting developements. Mother’s false cheer and interacting with her peers (of course Hazel probably considers them her inferiors) could highlight how people around cancer patient treat them, the question of how sincere their behaviours are and how much is just pity?

    I definitely see Green trying here, but the over-the-top screaming her mom did just put me off.

  3. Juracan on 25 June 2015, 20:06 said:

    “By it, do you mean herpes?”


    I could be wrong, but that’s right the fudge out of nowhere. They were talking about a book. I guess this random switch in conversation is something a teenager would do in real life, but that doesn’t make it good writing. Good writing makes more sense that real life.

    In any case, it’d take a fairly juvenile sense of humor to find that funny. In another context it might be humorous, but here it’s just awkward.

    Hazel says she really likes Kaitlyn, but only bothering to spend thirty minutes with her makes it feel like she actually hates her.

    Yeah, John Green insists that Hazel is just sooooooo empathetic and lovable, and yet from what I’ve seen she tends to see the people around her as peons.