I had high hopes for this one based on the rave reviews, but apparently I should have read them more closely because half of the 5 star reviews seem to be from people who know the author.
This book had a lot of potential. It was a meaty subject matter that should have pulled at the heartstrings. But unfortunately it fell a little flat. And I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that when we are introduced to Oliver he is getting his diagnosis and then goes around feeling "numb." And consequently he then had no personality. I didn't know who Oliver was. And when I came to know him as a young man with cancer, he was kind of bland unfortunately. His situation evoked sympathy, but no sense of who he was. Hannah on the other hand had tons of personality and I liked her.
But everything in general happened too fast. The entire period of when Oliver is getting his cancer treatments was rushed over. As he and Hannah are getting to know each other and fall in love, we only get short peeks into what is happening. Half the book, which is a novella to begin with, takes place after Hannah has returned to school and Oliver goes into remission. I think if the author had stretched this out into a full length novel and spent the time on character development this could have been much stronger.
And then the ending didn't work for me. Hannah's claim that she had fallen in love with Sick Oliver and didn't know Healthy Oliver actually felt accurate. Oliver had finally gotten some personality in the second half of the book and therefore did feel like a different character to me. I would have found it more believable if they did start from scratch to get to know each other again like Oliver had pretended. But he made a speech and that was all she wrote.
Some of the language near the end about living life being more than just being alive was rather poetic and shows some promise in the author's writing style. Unfortunately it came too late.