Friday, 13 July 2012

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (3.5/5)

The back says: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. 

I say: I expected more from this, mostly because everyone has been raving about it, including people who I usually share the same tastes with when it comes to Young Adult fiction.

However, I believed the hype and was let down.

As per usual.

Don’t get me wrong, the book was good – it just wasn’t brilliant. I think the biggest problem I had with it was that I didn’t connect with Hazel. She was rather meh, to be honest – there was nothing about her that made me root for her. Yes, it was sad that she had cancer and had to carry around an oxygen tank, and even though Green was trying to show us that there was more to her than just the cancer, I think that he sometimes got it all muddle up.

We pity her in this scenario, but we shouldn’t pity her in this other one.

On the other hand, I really liked Augustus – he was cool, knew himself (as much as you can as a teenager) and his only fear was that he wasn’t going to leave a mark on this world. In a sense, he was the exact opposite of Hazel, and taught the poor girl her how to live and love.

The best part was the dialogue between Augustus and Hazel, and their friend Isaac. It was funny, absurd, enlightening and refreshing.

Hazel is obsessed with a certain book and the author who wrote it, mainly because the book ends midsentence and she wants to know what happened to all these people. This was the most relatable part for me (having read all those Russians who love to burn their manuscripts and/or die before finishing the work), Augustus saying:
“And okay, fair enough, but there is this unwritten contract between author and reader and I think not ending your book kind of violates that contract.” – p 67

But then, and this may be a tad spoilery, so highlight if you want to know what happens, when they meet the author, Peter Van Houten he says:
“[...] to be perfectly frank, this childish idea that the author of a novel has some special insight into the characters in the novel ... it’s ridiculous. That novel was composed of scratches on a page, dear. The characters inhabiting it have no life outside of those scratches. What happened to them? They all ceased to exist the moment the novel ended.” – p 191/2

That made me really think about the relationship I have with some of my favourite books and authors.

Either way, it was a good enough read, and although I really like Green’s writing, this just wasn’t for me.


  1. I've never read anything by John Green. Loads of people are raving over him but the plots of his novels just don't sound that good to me. Still, I keep thinking there must be something there for him to be so beloved. Then again, maybe not? Do you have a favorite John Green novel that you could recommend a newbie reader of his?

    1. I agree with you on the plots of the novels. I've only read one John Green book prior to this one: Will Grayson, Will Grayson - - and I do love the way he writes; fast paced, easy-going and rather witty (which you don't always get with YA).

      I'll probably pick up another one of his books the next time I'm at the library just to see. If you do pick up one, let me know so we can compare notes to see if he's worth reading or not.

  2. Despite all the hype I haven't been enticed into reading it as yet. I probably won't to be honest. I did like your review though. I would probably relate to it for the same reasons as you and be irritated by the same things.

    1. Yeah, it's a tough subject to write about unless you have a clear agenda like 'pity the cancer patient' or 'don't pity them because they've found love' or something alog those lines. I think Green got it all muddled, and although I can see why people are raving about it - it was too simplistic (and slightly unbelievable) for me.

    2. I read one that sounds a little similar a few years ago. Girl was dying with cancer and fell in love with her next door neighbour. She was also not that nice. She had a huge chip on her shoulder and treated everyone around her appallingly. I was supposed to pity her but found it difficult to do that or even like her for that matter.

    3. Was this a Sarah Dessen book? I remember something like that. She had this list of things she wanted to do before she died, and drover her dad insane?