Review: The Fault in Our Stars

I received this book for free from BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Published by Dutton Juvenile on January 10, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 318
Format: Hardcover
Source: BEA

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.

First Sentence: “Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.”

In a strange way, I always sort of dread reading anything by John Green. Weird, right? See, I live in perpetual fear that one day he will let me down and his book will be less brilliant than I’m expecting. My expectations when it comes to John Green are ridiculously high, because, basically, he’s like the god of the nerds and, even in the books I like less, his writing makes me laugh and makes me feel. Despite this constant fear, his books have, so far, improved every time, with The Fault in Our Stars being his best yet, dark and funny and honest and touching and hopeful and depressing and painful and perfect.

*wipes away tears*

When people talk about this book, the first thing they mention is the sadness of it, of how many tissues are requisite to getting through this novel without emerging a snot monster at the end. What struck me much more strongly, though, was the sense of humor and optimism running through the book, even the darkest moments. The humor doesn’t subtract from the pain or the suffering; it humanizes it, and enhances the strength of the characters.

In the past, my main complaint about John Green’s books (no, I did not think they were all completely perfect) were the characters. They were real, but they were annoying and repetitive (especially with Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska. None of them did I fall completely in love with, although Tiny Cooper was close. In Hazel and Augusta, John Green’s characterization has seriously hit its stride in my opinion.

Hazel’s voice is just…incredible. Her sarcasm, her brutal honesty, her anger, her intelligence and her wit all made her one of the most wonderful narrators I’ve ever encountered. I love the way she phrases things. I love that she uses some words that I don’t know the meaning of, which really doesn’t happen often in my reading. Hazel feels wholly like a kindred spirit, like we would be friends if we ever met, which would totally never happen since we’re both so anti-social. Also, she feels one hundred percent like a female to me, always a remarkable thing for a male author to accomplish.

Hazel and Augustus meet and there’s an immediate attraction. Though they immediately feel for one another on some level, John Green deftly doesn’t go anywhere near instalove territory. For one thing, there’s Hazel’s cancer, which holds the two apart. Even if there weren’t and they immediately leaped into a relationship, I would have been okay with it, because the two legitimately develop a bond. They wisecrack and have this insane rapport; they share a love of word play and navel gazing. They trade their favorite novels and both go into the experience with an open mind, even though the novels were not what they were expecting. They are, without a doubt, one of the best, most convincing, most well-matched couples I have encountered in fiction.

Throughout The Fault in Our Stars, John Green has woven a lot of thoughts about the value of fiction and about what a novel really is, both to the reader and to the author. Hazel’s favorite novel, An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten, is a work of literary fiction about a young girl with cancer; Augustus’ is a series of novelizations based on a video game about the adventures of Staff Sergeant Max Mayhem. While there’s clearly a difference of literary merit between the two, I loved how John Green stressed the importance of both.

I feel like there isn’t much more that I can say about this without cutting into your enjoyment of the book. I realize I didn’t talk about the cancer at all, but I suppose that was intentional, because the book isn’t so much about the cancer as about the people who are partially made of cancer. The cancer is them after all, not a foreign element. The book is wholly about cancer and wholly not, though I know that probably doesn’t make any sense. What I mean is that this is in no way simply some weepy tearjerker stereotype of a cancer book.

My words are failing me, so I leave you now with this: The Fault in Our Stars is everything I dreamed it would be and more. John Green constantly increases his awesomeness. With this novel, he will break your heart, repair said heart a few sizes larger, make you laugh, give you hope, rip your heart to pieces again, and basically tell you the utter truth about a lot of awful things also known as life.

Favorite Quote:

“‘I’m like. Like. I’m like a grenade, Mom. I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?’
My dad tilted his head a little to the side, like a scolded puppy.
‘I’m a grenade,’ I said again. ‘I just want to stay away from people and read books and think and be with you guys because there’s nothing I can do about hurting you; you’re too invested, so just please let me do that, okay? I’m not depressed. I don’t need to get out more. And I can’t be a regular teenager, because I’m a grenade.’”

25 responses to “Review: The Fault in Our Stars”

  1. Lilian says:

    YAY! A Five star review!

    I’ve had my copy for forever now, and I really am the last person on Earth who hasn’t read it. I am so hipster.

  2. fakesteph says:

    I’m so glad you liked this. I love it so much and I get nervous whenever I read a review because I just… can’t handle it for people to not love this book. And you’re right about it being funny and how it’s paralyzing as a reader to pick up a new John Green book, and seriously, I don’t think I could handle being John Green because that is even more pressure!

    • Christina says:

      Haha, there are some books I feel that protective of, so I totally get it. I really couldn’t think of anything that I wish were different, well, other than life sucking, so it had to be a 5.

      I don’t know how John Green does it. I wish I could be in his head in a sort of Being John Malkovich situation. Also, I sound like a real creep right now.

  3. M.A.D. says:

    What a beautiful review!! While I haven’t yet read anything by John Green, I think I need to remedy the situation and visit the library very soon <3

  4. Anya says:

    I love John Green in general. He has this spunky, quirky, witty voice, this deadpan sarcasm and some of the best characters I have ever read about. I’ve worked my way through TFIOS and An Abundance of Katherines, and will soon be starting on Paper Towns.

    If I didn’t sound like a John Green nerd, I probably do now.

    • Christina says:

      Haha, I do not judge John Green nerddom…I mean, I did say I wanted to inhabit his brain, so…yeah. He’s amazing. You still have Will Grayson left to go. Lucky you!

  5. Nori says:

    I don’t think I have ever read a more praising review from you! And I totally agree with every word that you have said. I love this book. And I’m kind of psyching myself up to re-reading it. Re-reading John Green books is like catching up with old friends, and I seriously look forward to it. My book club picked it for its next book, and I can’t wait to discuss it! Great review.

    • Christina says:

      Hmmm, I wonder. I’ve written a few raves before. But it did feel like my writerly juices were flowing with this one.

      I love rereading! It’s sad that I have no new John Green books to read anymore, but I can always reread!

  6. I love this book soooo much! And I agree, I’m scared he’ll let me down, although I kind of thought he did in Paper Towns.

    Awesome review!

  7. Melissa says:

    What an intense quote. I have heard so many awesome things about this book, I don’t think I’ve seen a negative review on it yet. Thanks for such a thorough review.

    • Christina says:

      There are some negative reviews, but not many. I was looking at the GR breakdown and it’s pretty overwhelming how many people loved this book.

      Yup, it’s intense. I thought about using some others that were happier, but this one was my favorite, so…

  8. Oooh 5/5 I feel like this is the first time I have seen that from you, that’s got my interest peaking. I will say that I have never read a book by Green *GASP* right? I really need to read this one, it sounds like something I would love. It’s definitely notable that he can write such a good female character. It sounds like this one is perfectly paced and I love a book that makes me cry! Great review!

    • Christina says:

      I think I’ve had somewhere around 15 five star reviews in my blog’s history, although some I might rate down now a bit, but they do exist!

      I like his female heroine better than all his male ones. 🙂

  9. I’m afraid of reading this one. I’ve read that it’s a big tearjerker, and since the main characters are battling with cancer, I assume someone is going to die.

    So I borrowed the Italian translation of An Abundance of Katherines from the library and I’m re-reading that instead. I love it 🙂

    • Christina says:

      Well, I obviously can’t tell you what happens, because that would be a crime. I will say that most people bawl like babies when they read this. I think I squeezed out a couple of tears, but I’m not usually a big crier when I read. Plus, he’s really good at balancing humor with the sad bits.

      AAoK! That one’s great!

  10. Lynn K. says:

    I WANT to read this but I kind of don’t want to. Maybe when the paperback comes out… >.>

  11. I so need to read this, I have a signed copy in the other room! I’ve only ever read a short story by John Green but I can see that I’m in for a treat, albeit a very snotty one 😉

  12. Heather says:

    Wonderful review! I know I don’t have to tell you how much I adore this book/John Green. How did you wait so long to read it?! You have way better self-control than I do. haha

  13. siying says:

    prepare tissues. enough said. wonderful review btw

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