Monday, January 14, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Genre: Young Adult
Published: 2012
Rating: 8.5/10

The Fault in Our Stars was suggested to me by Chad for our group read. I haven't read any John Green before, but have seen this book in a number of best of the year lists and hence readily agreed to try it out.

The story follows 16 years old Hazel who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer at 13 and survived to this day via experimental treatments that keep her tumors from growing. Her mother forces her to join in a support group for teens with cancer where she meets Augustus, with whom she becomes friends and shares her favorite book.

It seems like a simple straightforward story, but I can see why this book will undoubtedly score some awards in the near future. First and foremost I loved the portrayals of both characters. They seemed very authentic. Their actions and characters are clearly shaped by their disease as they necessarily would have been, but at the same time they are unique and teen-like. The dialog is crisp and funny and ridiculous and I enjoyed all of it.

In high school, I had a phase where I read a bunch of books by Lurlene McDaniel which generally feature a young adult with some terrible disease. So I knew what to expect of a book in this particular genre (lots of heartstrings tugging for one) and some of those expectations held up, but the prose surprised me in a good way and several plot elements in the book broke the cliche.

The biggest problem I see with the book is its ending -- I felt at least one aspect of it seemed nonsensical and really out of character which made me a bit frustrated. But otherwise the book had a fairly conclusive ending, though not quite the one you might expect at the beginning.

All in all it was a quick and heartfelt book that is enjoyable, quirky and fun. Recommended.


  1. What were your problems with the ending?

    I almost typed 'The wrong person died at the end' but that's obviously not what I really meant; still it's too funny to not share. The end certainly wasn't what I was expecting but I didn't think there was anything non conclusive about it.

    What did you think was left to be decided by the books end?

    1. I didn't like that Augustus sent a note to Van Houten at the end. The guy proved over and over again to be an insensitive asshole who pointedly doesn't open any of his mail. Why send him the letter? If not for all the detective work, it would have never been found. I thought it was a somewhat idiotic move.

      I did feel the ending was conclusive -- I just didn't like that one detail. I was very relieved too that the author didn't decide to follow in Van Houten's footstep re: ending his novel.

    2. I never thought about the note thing but now that you bring it up I completely agree. I would guess Green did it more to get a reaction out of the reader and the letter was a vehicle to deliver the ended he wanted; as opposed to Augustus thinking "I think I'll send another letter," because as you said that hadn't been working and I thought Augustus too smart for that.

      I about had an anxiety attack making myself not go to the end to see if Green followed in Van Houten's footsteps. I'd have been pissed all the way off if Green did that, but I never really thought he would. Hazel interpreted the ending and talked about it too much to simply copy it. But yeah, I was worried.

  2. John Green certainly has struck a cord with his books. I see him everywhere on lists of favorite books and on book review posts. He sounds like a talented author but I have yet to be drawn in by any of the premises I read for his stories. One of these days I may have to just dive in anyway.

    1. I've only read two of his books and I wouldn't say he's a plot driven author where you're gonna hear about some super complex story with lots of intrigue and twist. Most of his narratives are straight forward. I doubt you'd see a plot summary that would make you go, 'I've got to check this out,' that said, you should totally check him out.

    2. I would really recommend giving him a try. It won't take you more than a day to read a book like The Fault in Our Stars and I think you'll enjoy it even if the premise isn't something you are particularly drawn to.

    3. This is one I probably need to snag on audio as I'd be more likely to 'read' it that way.