The Fault in Our Stars is written by John Green. It was published in 2012 by Dutton Books. Green’s website can be found here.
“Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.”
There is a ton of praise and hype about The Fault in Our Stars, and it even garnered a movie adaptation. As with Paper Towns, I don’t think it is quite as spectacular as everyone makes it out to be, but I did like it better than I liked Paper Towns. It has better writing, likeable characters, good humor and that metaphorical/existential element to it that always seems to make certain YA books, like this one, stand out.
I liked the relationship between the characters, and not just the romantic one (which, while typical YA “hot, perfect boy” was quite pleasant, really). I especially enjoyed Hazel’s relationship with her parents. I also liked Isaac, although I didn’t think he was a terribly important character overall.
Although I thought Augustus was too perfect, I actually liked him more than I liked Hazel. Stylistically, the choice Green made to have Augustus, the seemingly healthy one, die, rather than Hazel, the “grenade,” was brilliant. It not only highlighted the ever-changing conditions of cancer, but it made both Hazel and Augustus look differently on their lives and the effect and impression they have and leave on people. Which, I guess, is really the point of the book.
But as for the other characters…don’t get me started on Peter Van Houten. He threw the book into such a strange direction that I had trouble taking it—and him as a character—seriously. And as for Hazel, well, the reason I had trouble liking Hazel was mostly because she was a teenager and thought she knew everything. Her disgust about certain religious symbols/rituals and religion in general (i.e., the funeral scene) was incredibly naïve, and she had a few “I know better than thou” moments that were generally annoying.
To be honest, I actually found the book incredibly sad, and not because of the cancer and death. It was the characters’ views of death, especially Hazel’s and Augustus’s, that made me so sad. To have a character who tells another that the only thing to get out of life is to choose who hurts you…that’s sad. The book aches of meaninglessness and purposelessness, which is a bit ironic since Green seemed to be going against that with the thoughts of his characters and with the ending, which superficially lightens the “downer” ending. And as good as it is to have a novel that dialogues with issues like death and the afterlife, its implications are less good.
Recommended Age Range: 16+
Warnings: Swearing, underage drinking, teenage sex and sexual situations
Genre: Realistic, Young Adult
Twenty pages from the end of Midnight Dawns, things started to look pretty bleak for Mayhem when he was shot seventeen times while attempting to rescue a (blond, American) hostage from the Enemy. But as a reader, I did not despair. The war effort would go on without him. There could—and would—be sequels starring his cohorts: Specialist Manny Loco and Private Jasper Jacks and the rest.
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 those seventeen bullet wounds, is he?
(Spoiler alert: He lives.)
Peter turned his attention to Gus, asking, “You know how we make a Scotch and water in this home?”
“No, sir,” Gus said.
“We pour Scotch into a glass and then call to mind thoughts of water, and then we mix the actual Scotch with the abstracted idea of water.”
Lidewij said, “Perhaps a bit of breakfast first, Peter.”
He looked toward us and stage-whispered, “She thinks I have a drinking problem.”
The Fault in Our Stars is well-written and has some really touching moments, humorous moments, and overall great relationships. However, I found the book as a whole depressing, and not because of Augustus dying. Hazel was annoying, and Peter Von Houten was strange in a “What am I reading here?” way.
You can buy this here: The Fault in Our Stars