Sunday, January 15, 2012

Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Finished: January 13, 2012
Pages: 313 (Hardcover)
Author John Green
Add It: Goodreads
Publisher: Penguin
Source: Purchased
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, 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.

Watch John read the first chapter of The Fault In Our Stars here.

Quote: “Without pain, how could we know joy?' This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate.”

Cover Love: The cover is very simple and I like that. The blue really stands out on my shelves.

Thoughts: The Fault In Our Stars took its rightful place as my first (and so far only) five star book of the year. I am actually not a hardcore John Green fan. I read Looking For Alaska and fell in love with it. I count it among my favorite books. I always meant to pick up more of his work but for some reason I never did, until now. With all of the hype surrounding the book I felt caught up in the excitement. It was extremely cool of John to sign so many (150,000!) copies of the book. I was also aware of special copies that had fish or yeti's drawn in them. I went on a spontaneous scavenger hunt for the drawings (no luck though!) and I can assure you that the people at the book store thought I was borderline certifiable. I was the only one in the store at Booksamillion at night, so they were staring at me as I searched through the books on the display and I said "I am just looking for a fish. He drew fish in some of them." which resulted in some side eyes and polite nodding. Personally, book scavenger hunts are the best scavenger hunts. I don't know who wouldn't want to participate.

Now, on to the book. From reading the synopsis I was fairly certain that The Fault In Our Stars was going to be a big downer. There is nothing wrong with that, the subject matter is hard, and important. However, imagine my surprise when the opposite was true! Leave it to John Green to take a book about death and make me laugh out loud and smile all the way through. I was wrong from the start. This book isn't about death. It's about life. Sad, beautiful, ugly, infuriating, fake, wonderful, crazy, spontaneous, short, long... life. Though that isn't to say I didn't cry. I definitely did.

Hazel comes across as a very real teenager. So do her cohorts, Isaac and Augustus. All three suffer from some form of cancer, but they don't become caricatures, they aren't defined by their disease. We all know books that tend to do that. Allow the characters to become the disease. To be defined by it. In fact, people are even guilty of this in real life. I am pleased to say that John Green handles the characters beautifully. It all feels real, and the ugly moments aren't glossed over. Hazel and Augustus would be most pleased with this.

The romance here feels 100% true. It doesn't feel like a necessary addition to the plot added in only for the sake of having a romance. It doesn't conform to any color by numbers chart. It doesn't try to be dramatic just for the sake of the drama. It just feels... honest. What can I say about this book other than the fact that it's honest? That I felt like it contained so many of the thoughts in my head? Or that the characters reminded me of me or the people that I know? John Green gave such life to these characters that it hardly feels like fiction at all. Though, as we know from the front of the book, it most definitely is.

This book is extremely quotable. You know how you lay in bed at night and tons of wonderful ideas and sentences pour into your head and you promise yourself that you will write them down in the morning? John Green makes books out of his. Every word of this book feels like a near dream.

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

Recommendation: Everyone. It's a book that probably every one could relate to.


Five out of Five Coffees

The Fault In Our Stars is on sale now in hardcover. You can purchase it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository and other retailers. If you look for it in stores right now, you'll probably find a signed copy.

Looking for other books similar to this one? You might also like Looking for Alaska and Before I Fall.


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