Last time, backstory. This time, absolutely nothing happens at all, and the quality of the writing takes a nosedive. *sigh* I got prematurely excited about the quality of this thing. I need to learn to not hope.
Here’s what happens in this chapter: Hazel’s mom wakes her up because it’s her half-birthday. Hazel goes to the mall with a friend. Hazel ditches said friend and sits in a corner and starts to read a book.
It actually sounds even more interesting than it is.
So, Hazel tells us she stays up late reading The Price of Dawn, and then sleeps in the next morning.
Mom’s policy was never to wake me up, because one of the job requirements of Professional Sick Person is sleeping a lot,
OH MY GOD STOP CAPITALIZING RANDOM THINGS.
It’s driving me up a fucking tree.
You know what? Know what? I’m doing this.
The Random Capitalization Count: 32
Thirty-fucking-two. I went back and counted. You can see why it’s making me murderous.
So, Hazel’s mom wakes her up, which is odd. She does so because it’s Hazel’s half-birthday, and she’s CAPSLOCK HAPPY about it:
“HAZEL! IT’S YOUR THIRTY-THIRD HALF BIRTHDAY!”
Again, wasn’t joking.
It doesn’t occur to Hazel (who, for all her faux-philosophizing, is kind of dense) that maybe her mother is so excited about this because she doesn’t know if her daughter will live another six months, or is so happy she lived even this long. Instead, Hazel tells us: My mom was really super into celebration maximization. IT’S ARBOR DAY! LET’S HUG TREES AND EAT CAKE! COLUMBUS BROUGHT SMALLPOX TO THE NATIVES; WE SHALL RECALL THE OCCASION WITH A PICNIC!, etc. How does Hazel not get what’s really going on here?
“You don’t want to go to a movie with Kaitlyn or Matt or someone?” who were my friends.
What the hell kind of grammar is that? This is the second really, really glaring grammatical problem. Where were the editors?
Anyway, at her mother’s insistence, Hazel calls an old school friend, Kaitlyn. We get a half-page of totally interesting and exciting exposition about Hazel and Kaitlyn’s text message conversation (I hate when writers do this) and Hazel going to school.
Hazel buys the next two books in the series Gus told her to read. Hazel goes to the food court, where she sees her mom doing paperwork. Hazel tells us what time it is. Hazel sits and waits for Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn comes. Kaitlyn gets an infodump clothing description paragraph.
“Darling,” she said, vaguely British. “How are you?” 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 in Indianapolis. Everyone accepted it.
This confused the hell out of me. I had to read it a few times. I think what Green meant was that Kaitlyn put on a British affectation to say hi to Hazel. I have no idea if it continues for the rest of her dialogue; it doesn’t come up again. I don’t know if she legitimately has an accent. I think Green thought it was cute and quirky; it’s just confusing.
So, they talk. Kaitlyn tells Hazel she’s seeing someone; Hazel lies and says she’s not because she doesn’t feel like telling her she has a crush. Keep this in mind.
They go shoe shopping for six paragraphs, and then Hazel lies and tells Kaitlyn she doesn’t feel well and is going to go home. She doesn’t.
And I liked Kaitlyn, too. I really did. But three years removed from proper full-time schoolic exposure to my peers, I felt a certain unbridgeable distance between us.
Maybe it’s because you refuse to tell her about your life and then ditch her after inviting her to go shopping because you don’t like shopping. What the hell do you want from her?
I’m finding Hazel unlikable.
I found a bench surrounded by an Irish Gifts store, the Fountain Pen Emporium, and a baseball-cap outlet—a corner of the mall even Kaitlyn would never shop
I’m about to blow your mind, John Green: I like shoe shopping and baseball. I know, I know. I’m seeking help, don’t worry.
Also, for “an Irish Gifts”:
RANDOM CAPITALIZATION: 33
Anyway, she sits down and starts reading Midnight Dawns, the next book in Gus’ series. We’re told over and over how it’s like someone novelizing Call of Duty in that people are constantly getting shot, so I’m telling you because I guess maybe it matters? I can’t really tell if it’s going to matter or not.
Then, a little girl interrupts her reading to ask about her breathing tube. We get that scene where the parent is like “OH NOES” and Hazel’s all “Let the children come to me!” that’s in every story about illness ever. This is what I mean when I say this story can’t just use cancer as its emotional cop-out. This scene would be cute and touching and whatever if it wasn’t in every fucking story about disease ever. It’s a cliche, and it’s a bad one, and you should feel bad for using it.
Then Hazel starts reading again and the chapter is over. This is the last line of the chapter:
Anyway, I really did like being alone. I liked being alone with poor Staff Sergeant Max Mayhem, who—oh, come on, he’s not going to survive these seventeen bullet wounds, is he?(Spoiler alert: He lives.)
It’s at the very bottom of the page in the hardcover copy I have, and I actually flipped the page back and forth a few times because it was such an abrupt ending to a pointless chapter. I went so far as to check the page numbers to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. Guys, this chapter sucked.
And I’m getting the feeling that John Green thinks he’s much, much more clever than he really is. That freaking “Spoiler Alert!!!” thing came up in this 4-and-a-half-page chapter three times. If I see it again I’m starting another count.