Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Fault In Our Stars : My Review


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green has been a big deal in the bookworld for quite some time now.  I had hoped to get it read a lot bit sooner than this, but alas- my To-Read List is a mile long!  (And I have that terrible habit of rereading my favorites over and over again... Oh, and that whole "being a Mom-thing" that makes reading time somewhat limited!)

But wow!  Now that I've finally read it, I can say: WHAT A BOOK!

The protagonist, Hazel is a 17 year old girl who is suffering from a rare and chronic form of lung cancer.  The readers are made aware very quickly that Hazel will not live very long.  She refers to herself as a "grenade" and it tears at your soul.  On the first page of the book, Hazel begins her story by explaining to us that,
"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.
Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer.  But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer.  Depression is a side effect of dying." 

Due to her "depression" her mother has her attend group therapy for cancer survivors.  It is there that she meets the other major player, Augustus Waters.  He has been in remission for a little over a year.  He speaks in mostly metaphors and suffers from a hero-complex, in the most endearing way possible.

I don't want to give away any spoilers- but I was *not* expecting the ending.  (I definitely shed a tear.)  Books that can pull emotion like that out of you are hard to find.  I now understand what everyone was making such a big deal about when they talked about the awesomeness of this book.


My favorite thing about this book (and coincidentally, my only critique- but we'll get to that a bit later) is how it was written.  There were so many times I had to stop mid paragraph and go, 'Wow!  That was _________!' (beautiful, insightful, brilliant, stunning).


I realized that this was a book I was going to mark up with pens and highlighters because there were just too many good lines that stayed with you.  They deserved to be remembered.

"Are you crying, Hazel Grace?"
"Kind of?"
"Why?" he asked.
"Cause, I'm just--I want to go to Amsterdam, and I want him to tell me what happens after the book is over, and I just don't want my particular life, and also, the sky is depressing me, and there is this old swing set out here that my dad made for me when I was a kid."
"I must see this old swing set of tears immediately," he said, "I'll be over in twenty minutes."

"Keep your shit together," I whispered to my lungs.

"You're arguing that the fragile, rare thing is beautiful simply because it is fragile and rare.  But's a lie, and you know it."

"You say you're not special because the world doesn't know about you, but that's an insult to me. I know about you."

"Even cancer isn't a bad guy really: Cancer just wants to be alive."


Can you kind of get an idea of what an amazing book John Green penned?  I love that despite being teenagers, the characters were intelligent.  They were not shallow.  They read and they care and they spend time thinking about the deep aspects of life.  I would hate to imagine that this is only possible because they face their mortality, but I have yet to read a book about teenagers that portrays teenagers in such an insightful way.  It was refreshing to say the least.

Ironically, one of my only issues with this book is that the way it is written makes every.single.character.talk.the.same.  There is nothing different about Hazel's dialogue v. Augustus's dialogue v. Hazel's Mom v. Hazel's Dad v. Issac etc. etc.  They all speak exactly the same and it's that very thing that will keep me from rating this book 5 stars.  But, gah, it pains me!  Because it really is an incredible book.  But, the lack of variation in voices is noticeable and at times distracting.  They were all a bit too similar that it made it hard fall completely into the book and visualize it all as "real."  Though I did read the book in one day, so it must not have been too hard.

If you weren't aware, the powers at be have made this book into a movie and I'm excited to see these characters brought to life.  I believe hope that the issue of all characters having essentially "the same" voice will be a non-issue in the movie adaptation because of the different actors portraying each character.  Check out the trailer here:



Who has read this book?  What did you think?  If you haven't read it, is it on your to-read list?  Who plans on seeing the movie?

11 comments:

  1. My friend has it for whenever I want to borrow and read it, but to be honest I don't think I want to. I predicted which characters would end up how at the end with my friend (and was correct) and as you say, the extracts of dialogue I have seen are very samey. I'm not sure I could read a whole book where people talk like that, it's just not realistic to me. Also as a rule I don't read books about chronic illness, death and depression because of my own background and I don't see that this book is going to be particularly uplifting for someone like me to read. I liked your review though Azia, very balanced and interesting to see your thoughts!

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    1. You would be able to predict what happens haha Doesn't surprise me at all! :) The book was quite beautiful, but I could see the sameness bothering you even more than it bothered me. I wish I could say I stay away from sad stories... but, alas-- I'm a bit of masochist. My favorite novel is Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. How twisted is that!?

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  2. <3 I'm excited, I'm really hoping I can find time to read it soon!

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    1. you will eat the book in a day. seriously.

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  3. I haven't read it yet, but it's on my list. Thanks for the review!

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  4. I have it on my Kindle, but I've been putting it off because it's so sad. Now I want to read it.

    Great review. :)

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    1. Thanks Melissa! It is sad... but it's also beautiful. And life is like that a lot of the time, sad and beautiful.

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  5. As a librarian, I don't advocate writing in books....;)
    BUT there are some books that you know you want to keep forever that you have to mark up and remember. (My copy of The Little Prince is like that). I have read Fault and did enjoy it. Nice review.

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    1. I promise, I bought my copy HAHA.

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  6. I've been a John Green fan for years and could not wait to read this book. It definitely exceeded my lofty expectations. The characters are fantastic and the writing is just...out of this world. (I'm right there with you as someone who paused frequently to admire its brilliance) But you make a good point about the lack of variance in the characters' voices. That's something I try to be cognizant of when writing my stories but it's sooo hard sometimes!

    I do think that John Green does a better job of differentiating voices in his other books, and the actors will probably have that corrected in the TFIOS movie. I'm so freaking excited to see this story play out on the big screen -- only six more weeks!

    The Pedestrian Writer

    p.s. I'm not usually one to mark up my books, but with a story like this one i'd buy a second copy (probably paperback) and underline my favorite excerpts just as you did :)

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    1. It is very hard, I agree! I have a particular voice when writing, and I've become a bit worried since reading this novel that I possibly might do the same thing to my characters. I think I'll need to take a few workshops when I can to try and work that out.

      I haven't read any other of John Green's books... I definitely will be looking into more titles this summer.

      Also-- nice to meet you!

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Love to read what you have to say! Keep the comments coming!