Note: This review is spoiler-free. Also, it’s more of a reflection on my experience reading it than an actual formal review.
There’s no doubt that I’m a fan of John Green. I can’t say that I’m a full out nerdfighter (For those who don’t know what a nerdfighter is, it’s what Green’s fans call themselves. They fight “world suck.” It’s cool). Besides the fact that I’m fairly new to the movement, I haven’t had to chance to be very involved, but I support everything they do. I particularly like John and his brother, Hank’s videos. The Green brothers shed a lot of insight on the world today, and they do it in an entertaining fashion. I started reading John’s books and very much enjoyed them. I always found his writing a bit on the pretentious side. You definitely couldn’t speed through his books. His choice of words and insights always make you stop and think a little (and sometimes require a visit to dictionary.com). I find it to be nice and hardly intimidating, for it showed that he never tried to talk down to the YA reader.
So here I am after reading his latest book, The Fault in Our Stars, the long-awaited novel I’ve been anticipating. The story follows Hazel, a 16 year old girl dying of cancer. When I first heard this, I thought “Oh man, here comes a tearjerker. CAN’T WAIT!” And the book did make me cry. I sobbed. It wasn’t because it was a emotionally manipulative story (I’m looking at you, Nicholas Sparks). Rather, my feelings on this book are quite personal. I related to Hazel in a way that I hadn’t anticipated. I am in no way dealing with the kind of situation she’s dealing with. But her thoughts and feelings were shades of what I have felt and do feel. From the minute she describes her fascination with her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, I instantly understood Hazel. It simultaneously made me love her and broke my heart.
The book tackles “cancer culture” in a seemingly realistic fashion. Green had worked as a chaplain at a children’s hospital, so I trust his portrayal of young sick people. Hazel is a regular teenage girl, she just has a disease. Same goes for Augustus, an ex-cancer patient that captures Hazel’s heart. Both teens are funny, smart and real. As mentioned, Green likes to add a little pretention and some of things Hazel and Augustus say make them seem like Harvard philosophy majors, not regular teens. But really, who cares? Even though they express their feelings with uncommon words and soliloquy-like speeches, everything they say is so revealing and honest. Their connection and love for each other is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read in literature. It’ll have you longing for your own Augustus Waters.
The journey Hazel goes through is life-changing. She learns the truth about how love really works. She also learns how the universe works and maybe the fault is really in our stars or maybe it’s in us. As she learns all these things, we learn them too. This book gave me the chance to reflect on things that I’ve never thought about before. It also gave me a new perspective on life and death and my family.
The Fault in Our Stars is John Green’s best book to date, without a doubt. It’s easily his most personal story; there is so much of John in it, it’s hard not to notice, but at the same rate, it doesn’t distract. Make no mistake; Hazel isn’t the girl version of John. This story captured my head and heart in a way many books haven’t done. It’s character driven with the right amount of narrative force necessary, and trust me; it drives into your heart and takes permanent residence. I won’t be forgetting these characters and their story anytime soon. I am almost of belief that no one can. I can see The Fault in Our Stars sitting among classics and listed in syllabi of high school American History classes in the far off future. It’s an instant classic and truly one of the best books I’ve ever read.
If you’ve read this whole review/reflection, and are still unsure if you want to read it, I’m unsure what more I can say… but yell: OH MY GOD. WHY ARE YOU HESITATING? GO BUY THIS BOOK NOW!
Rating: 5/5 stars
John Green is one of those authors that no matter what type of situation his characters go through, he has this uncanny ability to make them relatable, and with Hazel and Augustus in The Fault in Our Stars, there is no doubt that he has done it again. While their situations might be a little distant from anything I am going through at the moment, I couldn’t help but relate to Hazel when she would wonder about life, love and death.
When I first heard about The Fault in Our Stars, I blindly pre-ordered it just knowing that it was about two teenagers with cancer, the title comes from a quote from Julius Caesar and that it was written by John Green, who is one of my favorite authors. While the topic of cancer might put people off from reading it, I can’t tell you enough that it’s so much more beyond the fact that these kids have a terminal disease, this book is thought-provoking, heart-wrenching and overall beautifully written to give us a different perspective behind the meaning we all look for in life. The story is filled with funny moments, particularly a typical sarcastic humor that Green has used before in his novels, as well as sad ones that were as realistic as they could be, making me cry more than once. All of us know someone who has or had cancer, but with Hazel we get to experience it through her own eyes and how even though cancer is the bad guy in the novel, he stays in the background, often being the reminder that time will run out eventually, but doesn’t time run out for all of us anyway? There are many storylines within the novel to get lost into that will keep you thoroughly entertained.
I could go on the reasons why you need to read this book, but to keep it short and simple, if you want to read a book that you won’t be able to put down, a story that will move you more than anything that you have recently read, characters that you will cling to and will want to know more about them as the book ends, The Fault in Our Stars is that book to me and I hope if you do decide to read it you find the beauty within the negatives and the positives that life gives to us.
Publisher: Dutton Books (January 10, 2012)
Length: 313 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Cancer, Romance
Completed: January 2012