Book: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Genre: YA Romance
Readability Rating: 5 stars
Morality Rating: PG-13
Target Audience: Hopeless romantics
Buy the book: Amazon
I had heard that this book was amazing, but since I was sort of meh about Paper Towns, I didn’t pick this up to read until I found out it would become a movie.
Here is the trailer: I’m pretty excited now.
At any rate, this book was nothing like I expected and more than I ever hoped. At the end, I was sorry there were not 2,000 more pages or an entire heartbreaking series.
Plot: The plot for this story was not what I expected. I expected something sweepingly romantic and heartbreaking, but instead, the plot is almost ordinary. Hazel is a girl with terminal cancer that is currently under control. At support group, she meets a boy who is in remission and has a zest for living that Hazel has lost. That is the first thing that attracts her to him, but she doesn’t want to get close because she knows she will die soon. He helps her live a somewhat normal life, and they unite in their love for a book written by an improbable Dutch author about a girl with cancer. The story ends abruptly, so the two determine to go to Amsterdam and track down the author to see how the story ends. I won’t reveal how the story ends, but I was surprised. The side adventure quest reminded me of Paper Towns. Now I am curious if all of John Green’s books have adventure quests in them.
Characters: The most interesting thing about the characters in this book is that Hazel is the main character and everything is told from her prospective. I found this odd. Men have difficulty writing from a female prospective most of the time. John Green actually did better than I expected, but at one point, he has Hazel disparage against shoe-shopping, and I have met fewer than 3 women who don’t appreciate a cute pair of shoes on some level. In the end, Hazel was not quite feminine enough, but enough to be mostly believable.
Augustus was funny. He reminded me of a few teen boys I have run across, so that was fun. I think I would enjoy being his mother, but he is the type of boy I never would have liked as a teen. He had a sort of anti-angst, which was fun to read.
I think of all the characters, I identified with the parents most of all. I liked how the story gave glimpses into what their lives were like every now and then.
Of course, my favorite character of all has to be Peter Van Houten, because who doesn’t love a man who is a complete alcoholic and reprobate? Plus, he yells at teenagers, and frankly, more teenagers should be yelled at. Peter would be the sort of person who would make you say, “to hell with it all” and get super-drunk with at 10 in the morning.
Setting: This story is half set in Illinois, and half set in Amsterdam. I thought it was interesting that John Green actually visited Amsterdam for a few months while writing the book. It means that his descriptions of the city and places are real rather than imagined. I don’t know if there is enough detail in the Amsterdam section to tell that he lived there for a while, but it is cool that he was dedicated enough to authenticity to make the trek.
Writing: From the quotes from the book that I had seen before reading the book, I would have imagined that the book was written in a tragic, literary style full of deep quotes and innuendos. However, that is not the case. The book is frank and written in an almost comedic style. I liked this a lot. There are those “quotable” phrases that have been pulled from the book, for example, “some infinities are bigger than other infinities” or “we’re as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it, and we’re not likely to do either,” but when read in context, they seem less like things you would write on a pillow. The funny thing is, both Augustus and Hazel kind of hate that kind of platitude, so it is kind of funny that The Fault in Our Stars has become such as “quotable” book.
I really loved this book. It offers something that you do not often see in a book- much less one written for teens. The book gives us an honest way to look at the real tragedies that surround us every day. On the whole, the tone of the book is quite depressing, but you cannot escape depression when an entire book is about the love affair of two people with cancer. What I liked most about this book is how it was a sort of primer for the various ways that people deal with grief and tragedy, and that even though the book is depressing from cover to cover, you are sort of left with an upbeat feeling at the end. How John Green managed that, I will never know and forever admire.
Who should read this book: You! I think everyone will really enjoy this book.
Buy the book.