Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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The Fault in Our Stars

by John Green

Publication: Dutton Books, Penguin on January 10th, 2012
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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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.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

I’ve avoided reading this book for so long. At first, my hesitation was due to deciding to finally pick up a copy while shopping at Target… and discovering that it was an autographed and Hanklerfish’d copy. I snatched it up, of course, but found myself unable to mar such an awesome piece of Nerdfighter history by doing such a blasphemous thing as reading the book.

Eventually, a friend heard about my predicament, bought me a copy, and promptly informed me that I had no more excuses and that I needed to read the book (the fact that said friend has still not read this book is irrelevant–Hi Kate!).

Last week, I decided it was time to face my fears (and, inevitably, tears) after nearly a year of procrastination and just read the thing. I finished earlier this afternoon, and… well.

The Fault in Our Stars is, as a whole, a difficult book to review. If I rate it too high, I’m a blind fangirl who refuses to see the book’s faults. If I rate it too low, I’m a cynic just looking for an excuse to put down a popular book. I suppose this can be said for any book review, but it just feels so much bigger with a book as widely loved as this.

After I finished this book, I sat in front of my computer to write the review and cried. Just cried. It wasn’t the love-and-loss of Augustus and Hazel’s brief relationship. View Spoiler » It wasn’t even Gus’s letter to Hazel. It was the little lines and observations throughout that resonated with me about life and death and everything in-between. I have, after all, lived bits of this situation in a bit of reverse, as a child caring for a parent with a chronic and debilitating illness. I’m familiar with the grief and the waiting and the calm and the grief.

Like many other readers, I did have issue with the conveyance of Hazel and Gus (…and Isaac and other characters, to be honest). They felt a little too altogether pretentious–like they were a collective Manic Pixie Dream Cast. I enjoyed the wit, of course, but I couldn’t fall in love with the characters the way I would have liked because I was constantly hyper-aware of how similar they all were.

However, on the topic of characters, I do think Peter Van Houten was fantasticView Spoiler ». There’s a line that he says toward the end of the book that just struck me because it is, in my experience, absolutely true: “Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.” He is undoubtedly my favorite character of the book because of his thoroughness… and that fact makes me a little sad.

In spite of this book’s heart and its best intentions, it fell flat for me. There was something hollow about the story, and I’m finding myself racking my brain for why I just can’t seem to love it the way most people seem to.

2 Comments

  • Reply Kelley (Another Novel Read) September 21, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    Whaaaaaat, why does your blog have to be so damn stylish?! I absolutely love the format of your reviews — very visually appealing.

    Anyway, great review. I agree with you very much about the characters, and I do think that Van Houten was one of the most real people in the book. I found it kind of a shame that Hazel and Gus just kind of left him to wallow in his (already deep and murky) swamp of grief. Certainly, he was nasty, but… I don’t know, I guess I was hoping maybe they would understand that and be able to relate to him somehow.
    Kelley (Another Novel Read) recently posted…Blogging: QuirkilyMy Profile

    • Samantha Claire
      Reply Samantha Claire September 21, 2013 at 6:11 PM

      Haha, thank you so much! It was definitely a process getting the format exactly the way I wanted it. I’m a bit of a perfectionist! :P

      I agree wholeheartedly. Now, if only John Green would write An Imperial Affliction
      Samantha Claire recently posted…Weekly Recap | Sept 15-21My Profile

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