Shamelessly manipulative but heart-wrenchingly genuine simultaneously.
It's a preachy book. It's manipulative and shameless and very, very transparent.
It's about a girl, a teenager, fairly sarcastic and deeply intelligent, sensitive and just a bit self-loathing, a self-confessed fangirl — in other words, a perfect caricature of the story's intended audience. Oh, and also, she has cancer. Because when you want your characters to be "deep" and "tragic" and to spend their time contemplating human nature and mortality, you give them cancer, I guess.
The first chapter is ridiculous. In the span of only a handful of pages, we meet our main character, she meets a boy, becomes attracted to him in a way she's never even thought possible, grows thoroughly disillusioned, disgusted, and outraged with him, and then comes back around to give him another shot. In most other books, that would BE the book, but no, here, it's just the introduction, and it comes off just as rushed and off-putting as it probably sounds.
But for all its cliche contrivances and all its lengthy diatribes, I'd be lying if I said it was anything but incredibly compelling, emotionally touching, well written, mostly well paced, thoroughly thought out, occasionally very funny, and just very strong all around. I couldn't put it down — read all the way through in a single sitting. Despite initial appearances, it does have some poignant points to make and some very memorable philosophies to share. It was an excellent experience.