Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
January 10, 2012; Dutton Books


Summary

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.(courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

I was skeptical about picking up The Fault In Our Stars. Everyone - and I mean everyone - raved about this book. I can't remember the last time I saw so many people drooling over one book (even more than Stephanie Perkins' books). It couldn't really be that great could it? My skepticism continued as I read  The Fault In Our Stars . It was good, but I didn't see why everyone was declaring it to be the greatest thing since the discovery of chocolate. Fast forward to a day or two after I finished the book. A line from the book popped into my head that I liked. Then another one. Then an entire scene. Soon, I was reminiscing with great fondness and sadness at the glory of every word in this book. John Green's spell took awhile to catch on, but within a week after finishing  The Fault In Our Stars, I had fallen for the book hook, line, and sinker.

In some senses, there's nothing overly special about  The Fault In Our Stars. It deals with cancer, along with 10 million other YA books. People die, as they do in practically every YA book. You don't know how the plot will unfold at the beginning of the book, but it's not hugely surprising. And while it is poignant and sad, it did not actually make me cry (shocking, since I cry at toilet paper commercials).

In more lasting ways, it is an incredible book. Every page has lines that are quotable. You need to read the book with a pen ready to underline (unless, like me, you are reading a library copy). A "character" in  The Fault In Our Stars is a book called "An Imperial Affliction," a book about a girl with cancer that Hazel and Augustus are obsessed with. They quote it all the time and go to huge lengths to find out more about it. John Green wrote a book like the made-up "An Imperial Affliction", one that is mean to be thought about over and over. Most plot heavy books where I eagerly turn the pages to find out who the villain is or if the hero will survive are done when I read the final page. I know the ending so I don't care to look back at it. A thoughtful book like  The Fault In Our Stars is just beginning at the last page. I could read  The Fault In Our Stars 300 times and still see something new. It is that kind of book.

Hazel and Augustus are inherently likable characters. I especially adore Augustus. He is hilarious, thoughtful, daring, and arrogant in a very attractive way. Hazel is a bit harder to pin down personality-wise. She is also smart and thoughtful and easily holds up on her side of Augustus's banter. She is stubborn, dour, yet passionate. She is a good daughter. Isaac is another star. He is your stereotypical sex-crazed teenage boy who turns everything into a double entendre. Hazel's parents are significant characters in this novel. I loved their inclusion. Hazel is closer to them than most teenagers, partly because she is stuck at home but largely because both Hazel and her parents realize that time is limited and every day together could be their last. It puts things into perspective.

Would you find teens in real life who talk like Hazel and Augustus? Probably not. They spend large amounts of time pondering the meaning of life and discussing philosophy. Every word that comes out of their mouth sounds like it was carefully scripted by someone smarter than me. But I don't really care. When you're reading it, it feels real. The emotions feel real. As a reader, you ponder and grow with every page. Hazel and Augustus's overly wise musings worm their way into your heart.

Many scenes in  The Fault In Our Stars are permanently etched into my mind. A few (non-spoilery) scenes that I enjoyed most are (1) the trophy toss; (2) car egging; (3) Anne Frank; (4) car outside the gas station. Some of these scenes are funny, some of passionate, some are heartbreakingly sad. All are beautiful.

The Fault In Our Stars is an exceptional book. It's not the kind of novel you read to have a good time, although there are plenty of places where you'll laugh. It's a book you read to fall in love, to learn, and to grow.

Rating: 5 / 5

29 comments:

  1. I have to agree, this is one of the most stunning books I've read in a very long time. I read it on my Kindle and the amount of lines I had to highlight and come back to was insane!

    I also agree with the fact you wouldn't find teens in real life talking the way Augustus and Hazel do; I think this is true for most of John Green's books, but that's what I enjoy about them. It's young adult literature with a very adult feel. He's definitely one of my favourite authors.

    Great review :)

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  2. What a beautiful review, Alison. I, like everyone else, loved this book. I was particularly taken with Augustus, who's basically my dream guy. Thank you for reminding me of those great scenes, they really were beautiful.

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  3. Gosh this sounds wonderful!!!! I heard so many awesome things about this book and yet I still haven't picked it up.
    Did you know that he will be at the Children's Author Breakfeast at BEA? I won't go but if you loved this book so much you might consider going there!!

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  4. what a great review and I need to read this book too. I have heard about all the ravings too.

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  5. I'm falling in love with this book all over again reading your review. This book is one that definitely sticks with you!

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  6. "People die, as they do in practically every YA book." YES! I was skeptical too because of this, but this one is done right...amazing!

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  7. I've loved every book that John Green has written so far so I'm sure I'll love this one as much as the others but for a different reason. I've avoided reading this one now because of the hype but I do plan on buying and reading it later in the year. I'm also afraid that I'll have puffy eyes from crying so much to enjoy it which happened to me when I read "Where She Went". I was a blubbering idiot. :D

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  8. Hmm, IDK, the "scripted" sounding dialogue tends to annoy me. But I still might try this book at some point. Great review!

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  9. This book touched me on a deep, deep level. It's one of those I will re-read when I need to find myself among the hustle and bustle of life and demands.

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  10. "John Green's spell took awhile to catch on, but within a week after finishing The Fault In Our Stars, I had fallen for the book hook, line, and sinker."

    LOVE books like that! The ones you're not entirely sure of upon finishing, but the more you think about them the more you realize how special the story is to you. The Scorpio Races was like that for me:) I haven't read a single John Green book, and clearly I'm missing out. Must fix that!

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  11. This review basically summed up my own feelings for this book, well done :)

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  12. I too am skeptical but after your lovely review, I know now that I need to get off the fence and read this one! Thanks so much for sharing!

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  13. I think that's exactly what it is more than anything else...it stays with you days/weeks after finishing it. I was the same way! Though I did cry a little. :)

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  14. Now this just might be the thing to convince me to read my copy, which I bought a long while ago (because the library waiting list was so LONG) but is still sitting on my shelf due to my overwhelming TBR list, not to mention studying..college is serious business. Then last week I saw it in the library and regretted buying it...but if it is as quotable as you say, perhaps it will be a keeper and buying it was a good choice.

    Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

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  15. This was one fantastic review! I was a bit skeptical myself from all of the rave reviews. I'm excited to read it! John Green's is just amazing. :)

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  16. Lovely review! I've been putting it off because while I know it's going to be good, I know I will cry, a lot!

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  17. This one is still on my shelf--not sure why. I think I'm kind of afraid to read it because I have heard such raves AND because I'm not ready for a cry. But I love John Green and I know you give good recs...*sigh* Need to read. Now.

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  18. Alison, you made me move this book up! I loved your review! I must read it!

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  19. What a great review!! I usually steer clear of contemps b/c, well, I usually need to escape reality. But after reading your take on this one, I'm stunned into adding this to my TBR!!

    You're an awesome writer!!! -Kristin @myparahangover

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  20. Fantastic review; couldn't agree more with you. At a glance, this book seems just like any other YA novel, but it really is something special.

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  21. Lovely review! I normally don't read sad books..but this one sounds wonderful. Maybe I might try it sometime.

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  22. This is the most articulate review of this book I have read thus far. I agree with so much of what you've written here. I absolutely loved Augstus and Hazel as characters, plus the brilliant writing. I just loved the whole thing. Awesome review!

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  23. This is a beautiful review. Much better than mine. It was an awesome and heart-breakingly beautiful book.

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  24. What a lovely review, Alison! I've been meaning to read TFiOS for a while but I am really scared that it would hit too close to home. I'm such a coward I know. But we'll see. :)

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  25. I, too, have wondered about this book. I think part of the raving was the way the plot was kept uber secret until the book's release; a good marketing tactic that added to the hype. That said, I have not read one negative review of this book. It is now on my TBR pile.

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  26. I have to read this book! Everyone loves this book! I have to see for myself.

    Great review! :)

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  27. I concur! I was such a skeptic (see my bitchy review of Looking for Alaska here: http://livingbyfiction.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/looking-for-alaska-john-green-3), but The Fault in Our Stars did everything right. I gave it 4.5 stars right after finishing, and then 2 weeks later I went back and changed it to 5.

    This book, it sticks.

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  28. Aw, I love books like this one that seem to stay with you for a long time after reading. So often books tend to blend together when you read lots of them so it takes a truly special book that has you reminiscing about and remembering quotes. I shall have to get to it sometime (I haven't actually ever read a John Green book - eek!).

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  29. I haven't even read your whole review yet, and I have to say. You describe John Green's writing/books to a tee in your first paragraph. While reading you're not sure what's so great, but after you've finished, the book stays with you and you think about it. Before you know it, it's the best thing to ever happen to you. Well put Allison, that is exactly how it is.

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