The Fault in Our Stars by John Green was published two years ago. I read it before, and I thoroughly enjoy all of John Green's books; I read Looking for Alaska in grad school and it was my first John Green book. Since then I have read all of his books. The review I wrote and my thoughts on Paper Towns is found here. It's another great book by Green if you haven't read it.
With the movie based on this book coming out in June (previously I had wrote Valentine's Day... where I got that in my head I am not sure), I decided to re-read the book so it was fresh in my mind. There were pluses and minuses for rereading The Fault in Our Stars. Pluses include having the storyline and my thoughts on the book fresh in my mind for when I see the movie and finally write my review for yall. Minuses for rereading the book is purely the timing and emotional toll it took on me. Reading a book about kids with cancer when I had to take my 20 month old son to the hospital for something the doctors were unsure what the problem was was not the best idea. I'm not going to lie, I was crying quite heavily in the hospital reading while my sick son just laid on my shoulder and others just watched our little spectacle. Plus, I had plenty of freak out thoughts about "What if Lucas has cancer?!" while reading this book in the hospital. Reading this book in such circumstances was not a good thing for my overall well-being.
All in all, I would give The Fault in Our Stars 5 out of 5 stars. The writing is witty and great. The story seems more real, and the characters seem and act how I imagine teenagers with cancer would be. It's a great fast read that you'll have trouble putting down. Sure, you may at times not know what a word means, but you'll be able to use a dictionary or context clues to figure it out. It's good, and in my eyes it deserves all 5 stars.
The Fault in Our Stars is narrated by Hazel. She is 16 years old and has had cancer for 3 years. Hazel has a friend named Isaac (who Green thought about having narrate the story) who has a form of eye cancer, and Augustus aka Gus who also has cancer. The kids talk about cancer perks (Make a Wish Foundation and other things like that) that I found to be a little humorous b/c I could see teenagers in that situation referring to such things in that way. I'm not saying it's humorous to be disrespectful b/c it's a great foundation; I just felt it was a way to show how realistic and honest the story felt.
This story does have language and reference sex as well as teenagers having sex. Though there is no description of the sex; the story just says the characters did it. I like to be upfront and honest about the story b/c I know some people really want to know the good and bad in a story including the story line, writing, as well as the content matter.
Amazon had the following "Starred Review" from Booklist. I think it is a well written review that gives detail, but doesn't ruin anything for you.
"At 16, Hazel Grace Lancaster, a three-year stage IV–cancer survivor, is clinically depressed. To help her deal with this, her doctor sends her to a weekly support group where she meets Augustus Waters, a fellow cancer survivor, and the two fall in love. Both kids are preternaturally intelligent, and Hazel is fascinated with a novel about cancer called An Imperial Affliction. Most particularly, she longs to know what happened to its characters after an ambiguous ending. To find out, the enterprising Augustus makes it possible for them to travel to Amsterdam, where Imperial’s author, an expatriate American, lives. What happens when they meet him must be left to readers to discover. Suffice it to say, it is significant. Writing about kids with cancer is an invitation to sentimentality and pathos—or worse, in unskilled hands, bathos. Happily, Green is able to transcend such pitfalls in his best and most ambitious novel to date. Beautifully conceived and executed, this story artfully examines the largest possible considerations—life, love, and death—with sensitivity, intelligence, honesty, and integrity. In the process, Green shows his readers what it is like to live with cancer, sometimes no more than a breath or a heartbeat away from death. But it is life that Green spiritedly celebrates here, even while acknowledging its pain. In its every aspect, this novel is a triumph. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Green’s promotional genius is a force of nature. After announcing he would sign all 150,000 copies of this title’s first print run, it shot to the top of Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s best-seller lists six months before publication. Grades 9-12. --Michael Cart"
On John Green's website he has a bunch of FAQ's and answers about this book. At one point he talks about the "contract between the author and reader" that is referenced to in the book. Green said, "I think the writer’s responsibility is to tell an honest story (which is also, I would argue, definitionally a hopeful story) and to make it as a gift to the reader." TFIOS is an honest story, that's hopeful. To me, as cheesy as it sounds, every 5 star book feels like a gift that I am lucky to have received.
What do you think of that statement? Agree or not so much?
There are many parts of the story that I think have worthy thoughts and quotes. This one is a common statement said by either Hazel or Gus many times throughout the story.
"The world is not a wish granting factory." At least in my world that is the case; maybe you are a lucky one.
At one point Gus and Hazel go to Amsterdam to visit an author Hazel has been obsessed with (an author that ended a book mid-sentence... that is just mean). They visit in the spring and the description alone of the elm tree seeds falling like confetti aka "Spring Snow" makes me want to visit Amsterdam. At one point it is stated that Amsterdam is usually thought of as a city of sin. However, the book states that it is a city of freedom, but in freedom most people find sin. What do you think of that statement? I have mixed thoughts.
I had many sad heart breaking thoughts as well as happy thoughts while reading this book. The story in general is sad, but the happy things like kissing in the Anne Frank home with people clapping is oh so cheesy and happy.
I really really enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars. It's well written with an honest but hopeful story. I would say high school girls and older would be the ideal audience for this book, and it would make a great gift for the reader or non-reader alike.
If you liked Nicholas Sparks' A Walk to Remember, you will like this book. The Fault in Our Stars is similar to the emotional storyline, but with a lot less romantic fluff that ends up making the story seem much more realistic. Plus, it will surprise you. Basically, it's a great read, and if you haven't read it you should. Go get it!
****Quick spoiler alert. Skip the rest if you don't want any of the story given away.***
Near the end of the story after you find out Gus has cancer that has spread throughout his entire body the chapters become shorter and less memorable. Since Hazel is the narrator I found this to be symbolic to maybe how life feels at that point. When someone you love and care about is dying your life begins to feel less memorable with a feeling of anxious anticipation for the inevitable. I hate it, and so does everyone I am sure. Hazel hated it too, but it's realistic. I appreciated how masterfully Green wrote on cancer, life, love, and death. He is a fabulous writer!.