The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green
Publication Date: January 10, 2012
Approximate Length: 313 pages
Obtained Via: Bought at Hastings
Format Read In: Hardback
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now.
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
As a rule, I stay away from books with cancer. Not even “cancer books”, but just books in which cancer plays any part. As someone who’s lost a parent to cancer, those books typically make me really angry with their romanticized portrayal of death, illness, and dying. However, this book was written by John Green, and since he wrote Looking for Alaska, which I loved, I decided(after much thought) to give it a try. Even though I really enjoyed Looking for Alaska, I set the bar a little lower for this one. Pretty much, my goal was to read this book without getting angry at someone for capitalizing on the tragedy of cancer.
Towards that end, John Green succeeded at that goal. I found I actually did enjoy The Fault in Our Stars, it’s lack of cliche-ness, the inclusion of Amsterdam, and the two main characters. Hazel was not a superhuman character full of dignity and compassion and wisdom. Yes, she was smart, and yes, her disease had made her seriously consider death and life in a way most sixteen-year-olds probably don’t have to, but she still got upset at minor things, watched a lot of TV, and did a lot of other normal, mundane things in between the not-so-mundane things.
I understood Hazel’s appeal to Augustus. He was someone who always wanted the world to work on a deeper level. To Augustus, everything was a metaphor, and every day contained some truth about life to uncover. I think Hazel was drawn to Augustus because he was still impressing meaning on a life without doing it in the over-the-top, fake-positivity way that normally accompanies disease. I enjoyed the conversations between the Hazel and Augustus, most of which went most deeper than just their shared experience of cancer.
And yes, this book made me both laugh and cry a little, but even though my outward reaction to this book was expressive, I have to admit that while I enjoyed this book, I felt there was something. . . missing. I might have teared up and laughed out loud at the pages in front of me while reading The Fault in Our Stars, but it didn’t affect me the same way that Looking for Alaska did. When I finished this book, I just felt done. I didn’t feel the need to linger and savor before moving on to the next book. Of course, this is just one small aspect of an otherwise good reading experience, so while it might lose a star in the rating for this, overall I would still recommend this book.
Final Impression: Overall, I was surprised by my enjoyment in The Fault in Our Stars. It didn’t shy away from complexity and was in no way a cliche cancer book, which I’m really grateful for. However, The Fault in Our Stars didn’t stay with me after I closed the last page like John Green’s first novel did, and I found it pulled me slightly less. A really good read, but not a new favorite. 4/5 stars.