Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Goodreads | The Book Depository | Amazon

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.
Review by Nara

Let me just begin by saying that I don't really cry often. I have never cried reading a book, never really cried watching a movie (nope, not even Titanic. Or the Notebook. Or whatever other sad movie). But The Fault in Our Stars was different. It really exposed me to the entire spectrum of emotions: it made me laugh hard, mutter in frustration, frown in sympathy and even (shock horror) tear up.

John Green is brilliant. He is a genius. That someone could create such realistic, such believable characters is absolutely incredible. Green created a realistic narrative voice that truly sounds like a teenager, albeit an intelligent one, not just what adults usually think that teenagers sound like (Cue: Quinn Loftis in Prince of Wolves). And not just that, but the comments that Hazel made were hilarious:
Look, let me just say it: He was hot. A nonhot boy stares at you relentlessly and it is, at best, awkward and, at worst, a form of assault. But a hot boy...well.

I didn't tell him that the diagnosis came three months after I got my first period. Like: Congratulations! You're a woman. Now die.

I really loved the interactions between Hazel and Augustus, not only were they really witty (and hilarious), but their relationship built up gradually, at the speed that one would normally expect for a young couple. Some examples:
"May I see you again?" he asked. There was an endearing nervousness in his voice.
I smiled. "Sure."
"Tomorrow?" he asked.
"Patience, grasshopper," I counseled. "You don't want to seem overeager".
"Right, that's why I said tomorrow," he said. "I want to see you again tonight. But I'm willing to wait all night and much of tomorrow." I rolled my eyes. "I'm serious," he said.
"You don't even know me," I said. I grabbed the book from the center console. "How about I call you when I finish this?"
"But you don't even have my phone number," he said.
"I strongly suspect you wrote it in this book."
He broke out into that goofy smile. "And you say we don't know each other."

"How did you even get in here?" I asked him.
"Would you believe they leave the door open all night?" Gus asked.
"Um, no," I said.
"As well you shouldn't." Gus smiled.

For those not sure about whether to read The Fault in Our Stars as it's a "cancer book", let me say, seriously, it is NOT a typical cancer book. It does show the ugly side of cancer (which normally isn't discussed in "cancer books") but doesn't do it in the cliched way other books may (e.g. My Sister's Keeper).

People talk about the courage of cancer patients, and I do not deny that courage. I had been poked and stabbed and poisoned for years, and still I trod on. But make no mistake: In that moment, I would have been very, very happy to die.

Don't be put off because it might "make you sad", it WILL make you sad but that's just part of the emotional journey to

Basically, after I finished the book I was like "please excuse me while I put back together the shattered remains of my heart".

One thing I really like about the book is the title. It makes reference to the play Julius Caesar by Shakespeare where Cassius says to Brutus:
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/ But in ourselves."
Meaning that destiny played no hand in their demise, but that it was their own fault. However, in The Fault in Our Stars, the stars/destiny do play a role (as obviously, it's not the fault of the characters that they suffer from cancer). A line from the novel:
Were she better or you sicker, then the stars would not be so terribly crossed, but it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he has Cassius note, 'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/ But in ourselves."

Brilliance. Pure brilliance.

p.s. I would really recommend going on John Green's various youtube channels (done with his brother Hank). They are hilarious (wow, I'm using that word a lot in this review...):

Also, the quotation by John Green we have on the side? Yep, it's from The Fault in Our Stars. SO GO FREAKING READ IT.

Similar Books
I don't know if there are books truly up to the standard of The Fault in Our Stars, so I'll just recommend random good books that have an element of loss/growth :)
1. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
2. Speechless by Hannah Harrington
3. Heart on a Chain by Cindy C. Bennett

Panacea Candidate

Overall: 100/10 (not a typo, it's just that amazing)
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 4/5


  1. The Fault in Our Stars is one of my favourite books ever. Unlike you, I am quite an emotional person and I cry over the littlest things, so maybe it's no surprise that I cried at the end of TFiOS. Either way, it was those big fat horrible ugly kind of tears, and I just ached all over.

    For some reason, I never got that Shakespeare quote while I was reading TFiOS, so thank you for explaining it! (My emotions were clearly clouding everything else, haha.) God, it's so much more heart-breaking now. :'(

    1. TFIOS is one of my favourite books as well! (If you couldn't tell by the 100/10 rating haha). It was just so good!

      In my opinion, one of the saddest lines is "I'm on a rollercoaster that only goes up" :( SO MANY MEANINGS. Like, he meant that his health is really good at the start, but then again a rollercoaster that only goes up is not a fun rollercoaster. THE FORESHADOWING D: D:

  2. Ahhh! Okay, the period quote! I laughed so hard at that when I first read it! When I shared it with my friends they just looked at me like I was a spaz (which, I probably am, but come on!) and I felt pretty much the same about this book! Only, I cried A LOT. But that's not unusual. I did cry at the Titanic and The Notebook, and just about every other sad book/movie (even sometimes songs) out there.

    I love the vlogbrothers videos, too!
    ps. Letting someone be in the same room while reading the sad parts and crying so hard you're shaking is not a good idea. ;D

    1. I know right! It's so funny. I really like the "as well you shouldn't" quote as well. And the quote where Gus' dad (I think) is like "our children are weird" and Hazel's dad's like "nicely phrased". So many funny quotes.

      That letter at the end was a major punch in the feels. I almost made it without crying, but then JG hit me with that letter...

    2. This book was like a rollercoaster. Funny then sad then funny and sad again. Ugh. xD

    3. Hopefully not a rollercoaster that only goes up haha ;)