Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

From the back of the book: 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.


Imagine being diagnosed with terminal cancer as a teenager. Imagine afterwards, where if you live your life as normal, you're an inspiration (but secretly others whisper that you're in denial). If you're broody and upset, you're obviously depressed. Hazel's mother thinks she's the latter, and sends her to Cancer Kid Support Group, which is generally the last place she'd like to be. 

But one day, in walks Augustus Waters--a former cancer-kid now in remission, although he lost his leg and basketball career in the process. Hazel and Augustus quickly strike up a friendship built on their mutual love of books and self-depreciating perspective. And like many teenage friendships, the often toe the line between being friends, and being something more. 

With all this talk about cancer, you'd probably think that The Fault in Our Stars was a book about cancer. Strangely, it's not. And I don't think it's a novel about death either. I think like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, it's a coming-of-age novel simply about life as a teenager--and how you live it when you suspect that you may not live until 30. Or even 20. Cancer plays a large role in the novel, but it's almost as if its a supporting character rather than an overarching plot device. I'm not going to tell you that it isn't hard to read about two teenagers battling cancer--it is. At times, it's brutal. But, it's also got just the right amount of humor mixed in that allows it to be not only tolerable, but an amazing read.

The only thing that I'd say as a potential criticism was that sometimes it felt like the book made some small digs at the Christian faith...which is something that I usually don't actually mind in novels, but I oddly found myself feeling a little defensive about it while reading this novel. I'm not sure why--maybe because I really liked everything else about The Fault in Our Stars, and wished that I could recommend it to everyone universally without wondering whether or not they'd ultimately be offended. Either way though, this was such a small complaint in the grand scheme of things that it almost isn't worth even mentioning. But I did, so there you have it.

Anyway, The Fault in Our Stars is billed as being Young Adult fiction, and it only takes one quick look at the reviews on Amazon to see that many teens are being profoundly impacted by John Green's latest novel. But really, I don't think I would have guessed that it was being billed as a YA novel--although narrated by a teen, it also dealt with some very adult issues, and didn't seem to include a lot of the angst that sometimes I associate with the genre. So, if you've been hesitant to jump into the YA genre, take a chance with The Fault in Our Stars. It'll be worth it...and if you don't think it was worth it, well, then you probably shouldn't be taking suggestions on books to read from me anyway, because I thought The Fault in Our Stars was one of the best books I've read in a very long time.

Intrigued? Join the conversation over at BlogHer Book Club, where you can also read an excerpt. Overall?

Disclosure Statement: This was a paid review as part of BlogHer Book Club. As always, the thoughts are my own--I don't think I could lie about a book even if I wanted to!


  1. Glad to see another good review for this book! I'm on the waitlist at the library for it and I'm looking forward to reading it.

    Also, I see you're currently reading The Night Circus. I read that at the beginning of this month and really liked it! It's so unique and dark and whimsical. I can't wait to see what you think of it!

  2. This sounds like a great fit for me!

  3. I loved this book and I've really enjoyed the other John Green books I've read as well! I guess the digs at Christianity it didn't bother me because I felt like it added another layer of interest to the book. Especially since I would imagine you think a lot about your faith and Heaven after being diagnosed with a life threatening illness. Also, I'm pretty sure John Green worked as a chaplain in a children's hospital when he was younger and he must have seen people go through so much regarding their faith.

    Since you liked the book, you should check out the Youtube channel John Green and his brother, Hank Green, have called vlogbrothers. The videos they post are usually pretty funny and interesting. Enjoy!

    1. Great points anon! Like I said, it usually doesn't bother me (and sometimes I even think it's a valuable part of a novel), but for some reason, it was making me feel a little defensive this time! Overall though, such a small thing in the grand scheme of an amazing book :)

  4. I am curious if maybe you were a i it over sensitive on the "jabs at Christianity" bit. Hazel and Augustus jab at basically everything-isn't that a part of their humor and their special bond?

    1. I totally think I was being oversensitive. That NEVER bothers me in novels, and I don't know why it irked me a little this time. But really, it was a very mild irritation in the grand scheme of things and I still thought it was an AMAZING book.

  5. P.S. Have you read any other of his books?

  6. I understand you considering that when posting I your blog too though... Some of your readers could have very well been offended by that, you never know... Although I feel like they would have been missing the bigger picture...which is, of course, really easy for me to say, as I am obviously NOT offended by such things. ;)

  7. Sometimes when I am posting from my iPad it won't let me go back and correct what I've written, hence the typos!


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