Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Fault In Our Stars

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Hardback, 368 pages

Published 10th Jan 2012 by Puffin Books

Shelves: adult-fiction, awful-cover, books-i-own, contemporary, medical-conditions, read, read-in-2013, realistic-fiction, title-appeal, young-adult
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, 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.


The Fault in Our Stars is a book that was all over the media last year. Although I wouldn't particularly class myself as a 'fan' of John Green, I have enjoyed some books written by him and I did pre-order the book after hearing about it. I received the book as soon as it was released, yet it has still taken me this long to pick it up - 2013! Finally, I decided to see what all of the fuss was about...

I started the book with the thought that it was going to be the best thing ever, as I know so many people who have raved about it. Unfortunately, whenever I do this, most of the time I'm disappointed. I wasn't completely disappointed with this book, but I was disappointed in the sense that I must've missed something - some impact that this book has on others that it hasn't had on me. I did feel several things during reading, the most prominent emotion being sadness - yes, I did shed a few tears, but I also felt a sense of hope. On the subject of emotion, I did admire the way that Green put across each individual character, showing that each did have different thoughts, feelings and ways of dealing with cancer.

I find it hard to review 'cancer books' because understandably, it is a sensitive subject for a lot of people. I like reading these books because I'm curious, I'm interested, I'm an emotional person who wants to connect with the characters. There seem to be a lot of books like this one on bookshelves at the moment, and perhaps that is why this one didn't hit me as hard as it could have - I don't feel that Green really did anything spectacularly shocking or high-impact. The one 'twist' that Green did include wad still not all that unexpected, it was something that was in the back of my mind as a possibility all of the time - however, it shows that Green did well when I still shed a tear when it happened.

I didn't connect all that much with the characters at the beginning - they seemed standard and it took me a while to like them. I particularly had a fondness for Isaac, a teenage boy who also participated in group therapy with Hazel and Augustus.  I did like the characters the more I read though and I did really enjoy seeing their interactions together. Green did succeed in showing these individuals for who they are, rather than their illnesses. It felt somewhat precious to see them interact, play video games, worry about relationships, just be themselves and not let their illness bother them in that moment. 

Hazel and Augustus were the most important characters in this novel, as they meet at a support group and become very close friends. I liked Augustus very much - he was the typical atypical or 'quirky' love interest. I could understand their attraction to each other, it wasn't out of the blue and they obviously connected. It did take me a while to like both of these characters though, as often I just couldn't believe what they were saying. Green seems to be trying to be pretty 'deep' or philosophical in this book, but, for me, it didn't work out - the things that Augustus and Hazel talked about seemed too philosophical for sixteen year olds, sure they had probably been through a lot but it doesn't mean that they'd talk like they do in the book - some of the conversation felt a little forced. I do like Green's style of writing, his phrases, but sometimes it does seem a little too pretentious for YA characters. 

A lot of the deeper discussions that Hazel and Augustus had were about Hazel's favourite book, An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten. It was a good catalyst for conversation between the couple and they even ended up visiting Amsterdam, attempting to meet the author. I really enjoyed going with Hazel and Augustus on their trip and meeting the author. It was quite a different experience and felt slightly more apart from the rest of the story, I really felt that it stood out and not only was it an achievement for Hazel and Augustus, it was also one for me, the reader, as at that point I was sucked into the story and really started to enjoy it.

Overall, The Fault In Our Stars is a book that I did, for the most part enjoy and  I would recommend it to others. I do wish that the characters and structure were a little more unique from all of the other YA out there right now, but Green did do a decent job. I'm very pleased that this book has got more people reading and I will certainly try to read more of Green's work in the future.


12 comments:

  1. It's good to see a non-raving review about this book. I thought it was okay as well, not amazing, not awful. It's nice to know someone felt similarly

    Cait x

    ReplyDelete
  2. Aw, shame this didn't quite do it for you :( It's always disappointing when a super-hyped book (and this has got to be one of the most hyped books ever!) just doesn't quite work for you :/

    Personally, this is my favourite book ever (!!!) but I can see why some people might not completely love it...however, I didn't think that Hazel and Augustus are too philosophical for their ages...I'm fifteen and I do know people my age who do kind of speak similarly to them. I think people sometimes forget/underestimate the intelligence of teens. Anyway, it's that kind of quirky intelligence of Hazel and Augustus that makes me love them so much, I think! :)

    Nice to hear a different opinion on this book, though! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for your detailed review! It's always great to see book bloggers put so much effort into producing a quality review. The Fault In Our Stars has been waiting on my to-read shelf for quite a long time. I think I'm gonna start reading it soon.

    You pointed out that Augustus and Hazel seemed too philosophical for 16 y/o's, but I think (just a piece of my personal opinion), if someone has a terminal illness at a very young age, there's a great chance he or she will develop a new perception on/of life itself. But of course, I haven't read this book, so I'll have to wait until I've read it before I can say anything more.

    Are there any new books you'd like to read at the moment?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for your detailed review! It's always great to see book bloggers put so much effort into producing a quality review. The Fault In Our Stars has been waiting on my to-read shelf for quite a long time. I think I'm gonna start reading it soon.

    You pointed out that Augustus and Hazel seemed too philosophical for 16 y/o's, but I think (just a piece of my personal opinion), if someone has a terminal illness at a very young age, there's a great chance he or she will develop a new perception on/of life itself. But of course, I haven't read this book, so I'll have to wait until I've read it before I can say anything more.

    Are there any new books you'd like to read at the moment?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I read this one recently too - I was sobbing. I enjoyed it more than you, but I totally understand your comment about how Augustus and Hazel speak. The style was nice, but kind of out of touch with typical teenagers.

    Thanks for the review! =)

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