Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars (Book Review)

Author: John Green
Year: 2012
Genre: Novel

Reading Level: Young Adult

Literary Awards:  
Odyssey Award (2013), Goodreads Choice Award for Best Young Adult Fiction (2012), ALA Teens' Top Ten Nominee (2012), Indies Choice Book Award for Young Adult (2013), Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis Nominee for Preis der Jugendjury (2013) Dioraphte Jongerenliteratuurprijs (2013), The Inky Awards for Silver Inky (2012), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2014)

Plot Summary: Hazel's life is destined to be a short one, thanks to cancer.  She spends her days at community classes and being optimistic for the sake of her parents.  At a support group meeting, Hazel meets the good-looking, one-legged, fascinating Augustus Waters, and her life expands far beyond community college and cancer.  

Red Flags: Language (mostly PG-13), some teenage drinking, very mild teenage canoodling, heavy thematic content

My Rating: A
I loved this book.  It's engrossing, it's well written, it's memorable.  When I start reading a super popular book I'm always a bit wary, since popular opinion and I often disagree. In this case, popular opinion got it right because this book actually is good.  Here are some reasons why: The characters are good.  The story is good.  The writing is good.  I liked it.  I am very articulate.

The story felt real and the characters felt like real people, with quirks and mannerisms that didn't sound written (like so often happens).  I couldn't predict the story, and I liked the bittersweetness of the ending.  It's sad but not depressingly so and it's not consumed with its own tragedy.  There's perspective and understanding.  

I liked the development of the relationships.  I liked that there were parents who cared about their kids and kids who cared about their parents.  I liked that Augustus called her Hazel Grace.  I'm sure some people get giggly over the dreamy guy and girl-meets-boy elements, but I think that cheapens their relationship and the book as a whole.  

Two small complaints: I felt like there was a vague kind of anti-religion sentiment.  Maybe I imagined it?  And second, some of the teen dialogue reminded of Juno--which I do not really like.  I thought that less as it went on but there you go.

Overall, I think John Green has a great talent for words and this is a book worth reading.  It was lovely to read, even when it wasn't lovely, and I was sad when it was over.  I read the last 100 pages or so in one sitting, with my little reading buddy and when I finished it, I felt compelled to take this picture: 

(I think the cover is hideous.) 

(But that baby is super cute.)

Memorable lines:
"I was a bit of a Victorian Lady, fainting-wise."--ch. 2

"My favorite book, by a wide margin, was An Imperial Affliction, but I didn't like to tell people about it.  Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.  And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can't tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal."--ch. 2

"I missed the future...I felt robbed.  I would probably never again see the ocean from thirty thousand feet above, so far up that you can't make out the waves or any boats, so that the ocean is a great and endless monolith.  I could imagine it.  I could remember it.  But I couldn't see it again, and it occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again."--ch. 25


  1. I'm so glad you liked it! After seeing you a few weeks ago I felt like we should have discussed its' awesomeness more, but I was just so overwhelmed by how cute and wiggly your baby is.

    I agree with you about the weird teenager speak. It bugged me, but at the same time, the writing was so good I also didn't care.

    As for the anti-religion message, I think when you're in that situation you're either going to become really religious, or almost atheist. Or it's John Green talking. I don't know. He did like making that literal heart of Jesus joke over and over again.

    I did appreciate how it was a slightly different approach to the cancer theme. Yes, they're star-crossed lovers. It could have gone very dramatically teenagery. (I'm so eloquent!) But instead it focused (mostly) on doing your best with the time you have. Or at least on accepting the time you have.

    Now go read Small Damages by Beth Kephart. I like it for most of the same reasons I like this one. Bonus: no cancer theme!

    1. It would have been fun to discuss! Oh well. Blog discussing is still fun.

      I totally agree about the writing being so good the teen speak didn't even matter. In a lesser book, that would have just been another nail in the coffin. Also, I think it got a little more...real? (for lack of a better word) as the book went on.

      And that is true about becoming more or less religious. Also Drew made the good point that her cynicism is a good contrast to Augustus's belief in Something.

      In other words, I agree with all your thoughts! And now I will have to look into Small Damages. Hurray, book talk!