The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Book: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green

Why I Read It: Because everyone else was. I frequently give into reading peer pressure because 1) I love to read and 2) that many people usually aren't wrong.
First Line: "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."

First Impression: I liked his Author's Note. Heartfelt and a great attitude toward writing and fiction in general. Good start.
Last Impression: So, it was a book about kids with cancer falling in love. The ending was what I expected, the tone was what I expected, but it was a new place and I was glad he brought me there.

Overall – 4 Heart Skipped a Beat This book is not the story of cancer, but the story of the people. In the book, Gus observes that there aren't paintings of the sick dying, people who died "of" something, but there are scores of artworks depicting heroic deaths (conquerors, explorers), people dying "from" something. Usually the only time death stories are told is when it's heroic and the only time a cancer story is told is when it's of a survivor. There is not much out there in terms of cancer "havers". This tells that story.
Characters – 5 The most well-written character is a secondary one, Isaac. The moments with him are the most honest and don't feel like an attempt to show teens with cancer, but rather like a glimpse into real moments. The main character, Hazel Grace, was inconsistent for me. A socially awkward 16 year old girl doesn't use "circle jerk" as part of her internal vernacular. But, Green did capture the otherwordlyness of a silent but connected phone line and his development of Hazel as a maturing, though dying, woman improved as the novel progressed.
Story – 3 In a book about kids with cancer falling in love, it's pretty clear how the plot will play out. It was clear pretty early on (spoiler) in which order they would die (sorry, but since there is yet to be a cure for cancer, it is the expected ending) and how they would interact with one another. The plot was predictable for the main characters; the interaction with secondary characters brought the depth and realism that just wasn't quite there between the lovestruck teens.
Narration – 4 Honest. The dialogue was natural and believable from everyone but Augustus. But with a name like Augustus, he's allowed to be a bit odd. It's written in straightforward language that reflects the tone and feel of the novel but still dotted with beautiful, meaningful lines that are popping up on T-shirts.

Read Again? No. Once was enough.

Tell Others to Read? For the adults: If they haven't already, probably not. I won't discourage it, by any means, but won't be rushing out to tell others about it. For the young/preteens: Yes. It's a unique view of falling in love. And they should see how lucky they are and how hard life can be and view all of the facets of life they possibly can. And this one should definitely be included.

Excerpt: "I nodded. I liked Augustus Waters. I really, really, really liked him. I liked the way his story ended with someone else. I liked his voice. I liked that he took existentially fraught free throws. I liked that he was a tenured professor in the Department of Slightly Crooked Smiles with a dual appointment in the Department of Having a Voice That Made My Skin Feel More Like Skin. And I liked that he had two names. I've always liked people with two names, because you get to make up your mind what you call them: Gus or Augustus? Me, I was always just Hazel, univalent Hazel.
     "Do you have siblings?" I asked.
     "Huh?" he answered, seeming a little distracted.
     "You said that thing about watching kids play."
     "Oh, yeah, no. I have nephews, from my half sisters. But they're older. They're like --DAD, HOW OLD ARE JULIE AND MARTHA?"
     "They're like twenty-eight. They live in Chicago. They are both married to very fancy lawyer dudes. Or banker dudes. I can't remember. You have siblings?"
     I shook my head no. "So what's your story?" he asked, sitting down next to me at a safe distance.
     "I already told you my story. I was diagnosed when - "
     "No, not your cancer story. Your story. Interests, hobbies, passions, weird fetishes, etcetera."
Excerpt content property of Dutton Books

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This work by H.E. Saunders is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.