book review: the fault in our stars

The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our Stars

Author: John Green
Publisher: Dutton Books
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 313
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
My rating:  (3/5)

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.

“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: 
slowly, and then all at once.”

The Fault in Our Stars tells the story of Hazel, who, after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer at 12, was ready to die, before a medical miracle saved her…for now. At Cancer Support Group, she meets Augustus, who is in remission after having lost his leg to osteosarcoma fourteen months prior. While Hazel makes it her policy not to get too close to people for fear of hurting them when she dies, she can’t help but to start falling for Augustus.

Ok, John Green, I had plenty of laugh out loud moments and you’re not pulling any punches by prettifying cancer. There’s a lot that can be said about grief and the difference between the face you put on for people and what you really feel. You nailed that part.

So, why three stars?

My first thought, when reading the opening chapters, was: “Oh no. John Green has written a manic pixie dream boy.”  Hazel’s cancer life is just so boring, a boy has to make it better.

Because that is the only way anything gets better in life.

Boyz.

I didn’t mind Augustus, but he talks like he reads from a script. In fact, every character in Green’s novel are speaking in the same voice: everyone is clever; witty beyond their years; endlessly seeking to say something quotable and meaningful.

I mean… I was a smart teenager. I’m a pretty smart post-teenager. I’m a poet. I greatly enjoy thinking philosophically. However, at 16, I sure did not talk like the teenagers do in the book. They’re all perfectly clever, long-winded amateur philosophers! They never stumble or say anything they don’t mean to say and their conversations with each other are blocks of text!

This really brought the fact that the entire book is a construction to the forefront of my mind. So, although I teared up a few times, I never really felt the emotional punch that I’m sure was intended, because I never really “got” the characters as real people. They were just too perfect.

What I found irritating — and truly, I wanted to love this thing with my whole heart — is the fact that the book tries too hard. For Augustus to observe, “you don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do have some say in who hurts you,” is deep, but you don’t get to enjoy that because so much of the novel tries so hard to be profound.

This is not to say that the book isn’t good. It is. I would recommend it as a good book. It was truly sad and emotional, but as for the heart-wrenching, kids-dying-of-cancer sadness, the book didn’t quite pull it off for me.

Although, the number one thing I appreciated about this book was the humor, which was one of the reasons that I gave it a 3 instead of a 2. Humor aside, even I’ll admit there were quite a few quotes that I liked, and there were some really great observations about life in there.

Overall, the book didn’t make me cry because it supposedly tells a “truer-than-true” tale of cancer patients. All I accumulated over the 313 pages is that Augustus is improbably romantic and “oh, my God, why can’t someone love me the way he loves Hazel Grace and read poetry to me and look at me like I am a metaphor and say the perfect things at the perfect times oh my GOSH.” I’m sure this wasn’t the point of the book, but that’s all I got from it.

Hazel and Augustus are perfect characters. A Mary Sue and Marty Stu. The only hamartia, or fatal flaw, they both have is their illness; yet, the entire book repeats over and over that cancer does not make them any less of a human. What? How does that not contradict itself?

So there it is: my unpopular opinion.

Also, Hazel’s parents deserve a best-parents medal or something.

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Laurie Hamame

Ball of sunshine. Chronic giggler. A lover of all things sweet potato. An overly friendly, world traveling, body positive warrior. Avid bookworm. Self-proclaimed chef and spiritually Italian. Promotor of daily walks, coffee dates and 30-second dance parties.

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Laurie Hamame

Ball of sunshine. Chronic giggler. A lover of all things sweet potato. An overly friendly, world traveling, body positive warrior. Avid bookworm. Self-proclaimed chef and spiritually Italian. Promotor of daily walks, coffee dates and 30-second dance parties.

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