The Fault in Our Stars by John Green review By Amanda King
I realize that I have come late to the fandom of this book and John Green as an author, however, I am sure there are more people like me who are perhaps unaware of its existence, or only peripherally aware due to the hype of the movie coming out June 6 this year. If you are one of those people, please let me convince you that this is a book you NEED to read.
The Fault in Our Stars is categorized as young adult literature. The beauty of John Green is that his books may have young adult characters, and even young adult subject matter, but he does not dumb it down for his readers.
This is perhaps the most beautifully honest book I have ever read. The subject matter is sad, this book will likely make you cry. It will make you laugh, just as often and as hard, if not more and harder.
The Fault in Our Stars is about two teenagers who meet in a cancer support group. Hazel Grace has been dying from a terminal form of cancer since she was thirteen years old. When handsome Augustus shows up at her support group with one of her friends, she is surprised by his interest in her. Augustus had osteosarcoma, bone cancer that they prevented from spreading by removing one of his legs.
Hazel and Augustus first become friends, initiating this friendship by each sharing their favorite book with the other. Augustus’s favorite book is based off a video game, lots of violence and gore. Hazel’s is a book that I was upset to learn was a fictional book. Hazel’s book, An Imperial Affliction, is a book about a girl with cancer. The book ends in the middle of a sentence. Presumably this is because the character writing the book either dies or becomes too sick to continue writing. The quotes that both Hazel and Gus use from this fictional book are beautiful and amazing. When I discovered that this book did not actually exist outside of John Green's imagination, I was at once both amazed by his ability to make this fictional book seem so incredibly real, and very upset that I would never be able to read it.
Over the course of time, books, movies, and their mutual friend’s frustration with having to lose his eyesight and the girl who dumped him because of it, Hazel and Gus become closer and closer. Hazel knows that she is going to die, it is only a matter of when. She is concerned that she is a “grenade” for Gus, and does not want to put him through having another girlfriend die. Despite Hazel’s logic, love and hormones win the day, ending with Gus and Hazel as two teenagers in love. Yes, teenagers in love are annoying but they are at least tolerable in their teenagery in this book.
Of course there is no possibility of a happy ending for this book, or those two characters. John Green respects reality enough that he did not invent some magical cure for cancer to keep his characters alive and together. Even though the book was incredibly sad at many different parts, it also has quite a few actual laugh out loud moments.
“Did you get it from that boy?” she asked out of nowhere.
“By it, do you mean herpes?”
John Green captures the voice of his main character perfectly; exactly how you would expect a teenage girl who has been dying for a good portion of her life to sound. Mature, cynical at times, bitter at times, but still capable of hope and love in a way only a teenager can be. For a male author to capture a female voice in a realistic manner is not unheard of, but it is pretty impressive.
In my usual perusal of book reviews, of course I stumbled across some “bad” reviews. Because I don’t have a lot else to say about that I’m just gonna say “haters gonna hate”. Some of the reviews called John Green’s writing in this book “pretentious”. I assume these same people do not enjoy poetry. There was criticism of some of the more popular quotes from the book, particularly “That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.” Saying that it was stating the obvious. To that I say of COURSE it is stating the obvious. It is stating the obvious in a simple and eloquent way that resonates for most people.
There was also some question of this book being formulaic for a John Green novel. Having not yet read any of his other books, I have no opinion on that, except to say that many authors find a pattern that works for them. This can be repetitive and annoying, particularly if you are reading all of the books by one author in a stretch. I do not necessarily think this is a bad thing. As a stand-alone novel, it was incredible and beautiful. People also criticized the way these two teenagers spoke and acted, saying that there is no way anyone ever speaks like that or acts like that as a teenager. I disagree wholeheartedly. Do most teenagers speak and act this way? No. Most teenagers also don’t fall in love with vampires and werewolves and yet no one is criticizing Twilight for being unrealistic. Point of fact – this book is fiction. The world would be a better place if more teenagers had that kind of vocabulary. I think every teenager should know what a hamartia is.
John green is an award winning author and one half of the Vlogbrothers (www.youtube.com/user/vlogbrothers). He also does vlog work for Mental Floss (www.youtube.com/user/MentalFlossVideo)His videos are both entertaining and informative.
For a free sample of four of his books on your Kindle, go to http://www.amazon.com/The-John-Green-eSampler-ebook/dp/B006G5SFA0/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1396307213&sr=8-6&keywords=john+green
- Other books
For more information on John Green and his books visit his website johngreenbooks.com/