Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars

Written by John Green
(Dutton Books - 1/10/2012)
Series: Standalone
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover (313 pages)
Source: Gift
Rating: 4 Stars

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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.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

My Thoughts

This is what happens when I make emotional decisions. Most of the time I’m pretty logic-minded (perhaps annoyingly so), but I am also prone to impulse. Especially when I’ve been pierced in the heart, you know? Plus it probably helped that while reading this book I was nursing a nasty chest cold. I know it’s not as serious as lung cancer, but hey, my own breathing troubles (however temporary) definitely helped me empathize with Hazel.

For the most part, I liked Hazel. I could relate to her cynical nature, her shared eyerolls with Isaac, and the way she obsessed over An Imperial Affliction. I understood why she was drawn to Augustus, and why she was reluctant to get close to him. I understood her need for answers.

“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

Augustus Waters, though. Like I said, I can see why Hazel was drawn to him. He was full of metaphor and charm and clever language. But that also made him much less real to me. This book — and especially Augustus — is almost lost in its own narcissism. It’s the same reason I can’t watch Gilmore Girls (sorry, friends): every single line is a witty, clever remark. It’s not that I can’t appreciate witty, clever remarks. It’s that nobody talks like that, okay?

When I talked about it with my husband, as I often do (“So, in the book I’m reading…”), I described it as almost this wish fulfillment on the author’s part. Yes, the book is written by a man and it’s from a female character’s perspective, but I get this feeling that the romantic interest is the “Mary Sue” in the equation. Sure, Gus is by no means perfect (I mean, View Spoiler »), but he’s the most good-looking, charming, clever, philosophical, interesting guy in the universe (or something).

This is where my logic-brain shines, through. Augustus just felt so unreal to me that the book kind of shifted from contemporary to fantasy in my mind. I was able to go along for the ride with Hazel, Augustus, and Isaac — and believe me, I cried during those certain *scenes* — but even as I neared the final pages I was thinking to myself, “I’m still not going to rate this 4+ stars unless the ending really wows me.” As if I felt obligated to give the book a high rating.

So. I enjoyed the book. It made me cry. But I don’t think it’s as genius as so many other people do.

Why did I rate it 4 stars, then? Oh, the things I do when overcome with emotion…

Read 37 comments

  1. I loved your review Kelley :) Even though I rated the book much lower, I liked what you said about Narcissism. I hadn’t really thought about that, but for Gus- for a seemingly realistic guy he had a very romantic idea of what death really is. In a way I felt like he couldn’t accept his death and I understand that. He’s young, good looking and in love so to speak, but he fell flat for me towards the end. I feel like I’m in the minority when it comes to Hazel, I didn’t like her at all. I felt like she was self-centered and pretentious to the point where it made me go “come on.” I laughed when I read the line “nobody talks like that, okay?” It’s true, that’s the other thing that I couldn’t fathom. I mean I had really smart friends when I was a teenager, but even they didn’t talk the way Augustus and Hazel talked.

    • Yes, I feel like I really should have rated the book lower (I’m still not sure why I gave it 4 stars — EMOTIONS). I see what you’re saying about perhaps Gus just not being able to accept his death and that might have been influencing his narcissism… And it’s not like I really loved Hazel either, but I guess I was able to relate to her a little more than I was Gus — perhaps because it was told from her perspective. Or maybe I’m just a little bit like her. :)

  2. I actually love Augustus. I know that most boys doesn’t talk like that, but.. I wish they would sometimes, haha. I fell head over heal in love with him together with Hazel :D But I can see where your opinion comes from! I’m just happy that this book had the same impact on you as on me. It was so emotional <3

  3. Great review! That’s how I felt too…. “Nobody talks like that!” It actually bothered me quite a bit and I think the fact that I was listening to the audio really made it more obvious in a way.
    I did enjoy the book! Not as much as I wanted to though, so I can totally understand your decision not to rate it more than four stars unless it had that “moment”.
    Very well said!

  4. Augustus Waters is basically the love of my life. :-) But I can see what you’re saying. That said, I DO think there are teens who talk this way (more rare, but out there!) and even if there weren’t, I’m okay with it. It’s a book, meant to entertain, and that’s what it did for me!

  5. I like that you mentioned that narcissistic element. Sometimes wittiness can be so overdone, whether in literature or friendly discourse. I have never seen anyone mention that in a review for this title, so it is great that you shared the unrealistic scenarios even though it did emotionally compel you.

  6. I think Gus and Hazel’s pretentiousness all depends on your own experience with people in real life like that. I used to be like that as a teenager, although not to the same degree, and I have known people almost exactly like Gus and Hazel, so to me people did speak like that and it never bothered me. I did feel like it was exaggerated in TFiOS, but I kind of felt like it was a buffer, to stop it from falling into melodrama with self-pitying characters.

    But I do understand your perspective, and I know a lot of other people share the same opinion. I’m glad that you still enjoyed it despite your problems with it, and that it moved you so emotionally! Those last few chapters are killer, aren’t they? :(

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective with me, Nikki. It’s interesting to me that you’ve known people like Gus and Hazel, so it felt more familiar (and less annoying) for you than it did for me. It is nice to know that people like that actually exist, even if it may have been exaggerated for the book (which I agree was probably a bit necessary).

      But yeah, that last 15% of the book just about killed me. I lost it when… Well, you know.:(

  7. Okay, okay. Just reading this review makes me kind of sad all over because. BECAUSE. That spoiler over there. That evil, evil little spoiler button, and Gus and Hazel and Isaac — I just can’t. *sniffle* But, haha, that part about you nursing a chest cold and being able to relate to Hazel SOMEWHAT made me laugh. :) I’m so glad you enjoyed this, Kelley! It was kind of an emotional ride, wasn’t it. I mean, I didn’t expect to cry this much.

    I liked Augustus because he reminded me so much of my best friend — who also happens to speak like that. Full of metaphors and weird language and shit. I agree with you that it’s not normal, but then again, Augustus had everything else going for him, so it was a little hard not to fall in love. And I kind of understand why you rated it four stars. Okay, let me admit something: when I was reading the first half, the book was pretty much a three-star read for me, because I wasn’t feeling anything. I’d read better contemporaries than that first half of TFiOS, to be honest.

    So I rated the book four stars for mainly the same reasons you did: it made me cry. A lot. Even the next day I was a bit teary eyed whenever I thought about Augustus. So yeah, this sentence really does sum up my whole experience: “Oh, the things I do when overcome with emotion…” I’m kind of glad I’m not alone, though. xD

  8. I was really curious to see what you would say about this book. I downloaded an e-book sampler once that is the first few chapters of every John Green novel, and was instantly annoyed by all the characters, and I even enjoy a good, witty banter a la Gilmore Girls. So needless to say, I haven’t been too interested in his books. I might check this one out because of all the fuss, but I appreciate that even with your emotions, your review for this book is still pretty level-headed.

  9. I’m so glad you wrote up an honest review for The Fault in Our Stars. I keep seeing this book EVERYWHERE, on Goodreads, on Twitter, and ffs people are making a bajillion fan art covers for it. Usually when people go that nuts over a book it turns out to be some meh contemporary tear-jerker and I’m just not into those. So I’m glad to know it’s pretty much what I expected, so I can move on without feeling like I’m missing out.

    I’m sure a lot of people think it’s brilliant, but I don’t want books making me sad. o_o

  10. “It’s not that I can’t appreciate witty, clever remarks. It’s that nobody talks like that, okay?” <— Totally true. Well, at least not that many people talk like that. But it's fiction and I do love witty comments :) So I don't think that this would bother me. Though I'm not to sure about Gus being sort of a Mary Sue– I'm the type of person who craves flaws :P

    I really want to read a John Green book, but I think I might start with Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns first. Great review!

    • Yeah I mean, I may have been stretching it with Gus being a Mary Sue (although no one has challenged me on this so far). I mean, I guess you could say one of his major flaws is his narcissism? I dunno. I’m honestly really curious what you would think about this one now! And apparently all of his books recycle the same characters or something, so it probably doesn’t matter which one you read first, lol.

  11. I think the most I got from this book was like one tear. I’m a cold hearted bitch apparently. Yeah, not really but I did really love it, but didn’t really see what everyone was talking about when they said it was extremely emotional. I mean, I literally cried through most of the 200 pages that If I Stay by Gayle Forman was. I’m highly emotional even before I ever got pregnant with Kailyn (since my hormones have never had a chance to go back to normal what with pregnancy and breast feeding and then pregnancy again). But it seems that anything even remotely nice that one person does for another will make me at least get teary eyed.

    But I agree with you that the characters were unrealistic because nobody really talks that way all the time. Yes, I felt for them because they both had cancer and was sad when Augustus was gone, but it didn’t make me cry. I knew it would have a sad ending, I mean, it’s about cancer, they weren’t both going to make it because that would have been too convenient. I mean, we don’t even really know if Hazel will make it because cancer is a sneaky asshole.

    I like sad books, and I loved this book, but it didn’t make me sad. I’m glad you enjoyed it, even though it’s contemporary!

  12. My biggest complaint was also about the unrealistic dialogue and characters that just acted far too mature for their ages. So I totally get you on that. It is a very emotional book, however, and I liked it much better than the one other John Green book I’ve read so far. And there are some very pretty lines, like the one you highlighted above.

  13. I’m glad you (semi) liked the book? : D I agree that no one is witty twenty-four-seven. Otherwise, they would get annoying quickly. I actually wasn’t thinking much about how realistic Augustus sounds (or doesn’t) while I was reading… but you do make a good point! The scene where Augustus called Hazel was really sad. I remember I cried when he died. I know Hazel irritated me with her obsession with that book (I forgot its name). But that was probably just me…

    I think I like Looking for Alaska (the only other John Green book I’ve read) more than this one, though.

    • Yes, omg, that scene where Gus called her in the middle of the night… AUGH it hurt me so bad. That’s pretty much when I lost it… and probably what made me bump this up to 4 stars. *deep breath*

      I can’t decide if I’m willing to read another John Green book or not… We’ll see.

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