Lucy's Reviews > The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
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's review
Jul 02, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: young-adult, romance, i-cried-damn-it, better-than-i-expected, book-with-no-ending
Read from December 28, 2011 to January 01, 2012

First and foremost, the author really does not want you to spoil yourself. I, however, am the kind of person who likes to read revealing reviews before purchasing a book. There are, after all, only so many books you can read in a year and afford to buy. If I didn't own this book, I'd want to read a review like this... So, I leave it up to you, intrepid reader. I'm sure you're smart enough to know your own preferences and I'll be using spoiler tags for the stuff I believe Green doesn't want discussed openly either way.

The Fault in Our Stars is about sixteen Hazel Grace Lancaster who has been living with a terminal illness for a quarter of her life. She's on an experimental, and entirely fictional, treatment that's buying her some additional time. No one knows whether that time will be weeks, months, or years because Hazel is riding the first wave of treatment. Much of Hazel's life has been spent preparing to die. She's a vegetarian because she wants to lessen the number of deaths she's responsible for. She worries about how her mother will deal with the shift in status from mom to no-longer-a-mom and how well her parents' marriage will hold up in the aftermath. Essentially she's tucked herself away from just about everyone to lessen the damage that will happen when, not if, she dies.

She meets a boy named Augustus Waters at a cancer support group. He's attractive, charismatic, and down one leg but at the moment exhibiting no signs of recurrence. He has a future and Hazel does not. He doesn't mind Hazel's lack of future or, at least, it doesn't lessen his fascination with her. They become flirty friends, but Hazel draws the line there, refusing to be the 'grenade' that damages him with emotional shrapnel. They exchange books and bond a lot over Hazel's selection, An Imperial Affliction.

An Imperial Affliction is about a girl with terminal cancer, but it's not like other cancer books where everyone is brave and tough etc etc. It was essentially the author talking at you through a curtain so he knows you understand how 'real' his book is. AIA famously ends in the middle of a sentence. Hazel gets that either Anna, the narrator of AIA, died or got too sick to continue, but she really wants to know what happens to all the side characters. Augustus, being a teenage boy trying to impress the girl, starts communicating with the author to get some answers. The author refuses to reveal the outcome of the novel in letters, emails, or over the phone as it might constitute a sequel if somehow published. He invites them to visit him in Amsterdam for the conclusion.

Augustus has a Wish given to him by The Make A Wish Foundation, which he states was 'in exchange for my leg.' Hazel used her wish when her death seemed more imminent. Augustus uses his wish to take her and her mother (no Disappearing Parent Syndrome here) to Amsterdam to meet the author. The author is (view spoiler) who finds Hazel dressing up as Anna particularly distracting and tells them (view spoiler)

The (view spoiler) author doesn't matter so much though, because the real purpose of the trip was time with Hazel. Augustus and Hazel come together in Amsterdam. It is romantic and bittersweet. It is, after all, a first and a last love rolled into one. (view spoiler)

This next spoiler tag is serious business so if you peeked at the first one, pause and consider. (view spoiler)

My main issue with Augustus and Hazel was their penchant for dramatic, long and perfectly edited speeches. Yes, it was all very beautiful in a perfect kind of way that real things are not -- and more importantly in a way real teenagers are not. There's a thousand excuses that can be made for this and here are a couple of the ones that people will list first: First, the characters are more mature than cancer-free teenagers and with obvious reason; Hazel has had to fit her entire life in a small window. Second, John Green apparently really likes writing about smart people...

I would be more accepting of Hazel and Augustus's forced maturity and growth if all the character's in John's novels didn't sound like fifteen year olds channeled through thirty year olds. The second excuse is self-indulgent. There's writing about smart teenagers and there's losing track of your characters and your target audience. It became more pretentious than relatable after a point.

At the end of this vlogbrother's video you will see a clip of Esther Earl, to whom this book is dedicated. She's neither eloquent nor is what she says particularly earth-shattering, but I would have preferred a little more real teenager to this adult to young adult channeling. I'm not saying toss in some 'ums' but the characters really do not need to deliver one perfect speech after another.

A lot of people will read this book and look for what has become known as John's trademark Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Some will say Hazel's one, some will say Augustus is the rare male version. I don't think either of them qualify as MPDG. They are too defined, too clear -- too real (aside from those stilted speeches) to fall into that troupe. Part of the allure of a MPDG is a lack of understanding about her and her motivations. She has no purpose beyond fixing the main character. She's there to rescue the main character from the boredom of his own life. Augustus and Hazel do some mutual rescuing and some mutual damage. It was, at least to me, very beautiful and true to life whereas what a MPDG does is not. I can't imagine anyone reading this book and walking away not understanding every romantic gesture Augustus made or sympathizing with Hazel's quiet aloofness.

The four stars on this review are tentative. I think rereading could change my opinion. I think other reviewers can change my opinion. Being part of the goodreads community has taught me nothing if not that there are always a thousand different ways of reading the same book, the same page, the same sentence.

There's one last thing that bothered me as someone who watches John Green's vlogging channel. Anna, the main character in Hazel's favorite book, starts a charity around cholera because she thought starting a cancer charity while suffering from the condition was narcissistic and Hazel agreed. I quoted the passage in my first take of this review, but that's not happening this time around, people. John pimps the 'This Star Won't Go Out' charity started by Esther's family in her name in order to help the families of cancer patients cope with expenses. I understand that's a fictional character's thoughts and opinions and not necessarily John's, but it still... bugged the fuck out of me. There, I feel no need to be more eloquent than that.
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Quotes Lucy Liked

John Green
“I glanced again. He was still watching me.

Look, let me just say it: He was hot. A nonhot boy stares at you relentlessly and it is, at best, awkward and, at worst, a form of assault. But a hot boy... well.”
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

John Green
“I'm in love with you," he said quietly.

"Augustus," I said.

"I am," he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. "I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

John Green
“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

John Green
“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

John Green
“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There's .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I'm likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful.”
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Reading Progress

12/28/2011 page 9
3.0% "The main character seems no bullshit, but then she described the guy who is probably the love interest as having 'mahogany' hair."
12/29/2011 page 33
12.0% "Remember when people used to say the dialogue on Dawson's Creek was unrealistic because the teenagers gave lengthy speeches using extensive vocabulary they probably wouldn't have had? Yeah... if you're in your mid to late twenties you'll remember." 4 comments
12/30/2011 page 100
37.0% "Possibly the last book of this year or the first of the next depending on how much New Years Eve party prepwork I'm forced to do." 2 comments
01/01/2012 page 153
56.0% ""I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you."" 3 comments
01/01/2012 page 270
99.0% "Alright, so I cried, but I don't feel... good about these tears the way I did with A Monster Calls. I feel manipulated into crying here. If you know the difference, you'll know what I mean, and if you don't well I hope no one ever drags unwilling tears out of you." 4 comments
01/01/2012 page 287
100.0% "There are actually 312 pages in this book." 4 comments
02/21/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-29 of 29) (29 new)

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Lucy I just wanted to add that while I am always thrilled with open discussion on my review, like hey-are-you-on-something happy, but I will delete comments that reveal stuff if they are not spoiler tagged. The coding for that is (view spoiler) just without the wee *s

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

So, I avoided clicking any of the spoiler tags, but your review is still lovely. I will definitely check this out when it's released.

Lucy I'm glad you stayed spoiler-free and that you're checking it out. I enjoyed it a great deal more than the last Green book I read (Will Grayson, Will Grayson).

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Well, I've not actually read a John Green book (even though I used one of his quotes on my profile). I think this might be a good one to start with. I don't generally like to be spoiled ever since some random horrible, heartless person ruined Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for me. I wasn't reading a review for it; I was sitting on a bench outside a classroom and someone saw me reading it and said, (view spoiler) I held up the book to show I was less than fifty pages in, and they didn't even look apologetic. People suck sometimes. Anywho, since then I try to avoid spoilers, but I love your reviews, and since you said you'd spoiler tag anything big, I figured I'd go for it :).

Lucy Yes, the big stuff definitely lies beneath the spoiler tags. I hope you remain spoiler free for this one. Watch out for status updates and read early. I've had books unintentionally spoiled for me by status updates, but I don't really mind. I sometimes find I can't properly enjoy a book unless I'm braced for what's going to happen because I rush through it until I KNOW. I have to reread to enjoy.

Lucy Thank you Coprbrd! Did you review it too?

Mayte I cried like a little bitch. that is all.

message 8: by Lucy (last edited Jan 11, 2012 01:30AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lucy Mayte wrote: "I cried like a little bitch. that is all."

They should sell this book only with a box of tissues.

Kathryn wrote: "I loved your spoiler friendly review :) I haven't read a John Green book before but am interested in this one. What age group would you recommend this book for? I have an 11.5 year old daughter ..."

It might be a little bit dark for her, but I suggest you read it and decide for yourself. Some kids can only handle middle grade themes at that age even if their reading skills exceed it and some are just more mature. I can, however, recommend several books she might like that are meant for that age range. Zombie Tag and A Monster Calls both deal with (view spoiler) in ways meant for children her age to relate to. I also recently read Paranormalcy by Kiersten White and the author is extremely aware of the young spectrum of her market (12-18) so there's no swearing etc.

Kathryn Thank you Lucy!

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) I agree with you about the characters. i didn't really believe that they were 16-year-olds and all the random quoting of high literature and such became tedious after a while. I rated 4 too, but by the end, I really didn't know what to think.

Carrie I agree that the characters did not act like teenagers at all. But I was weirdly okay with that because normal teenagers mostly suck.

Amber J. is this remotely close to "My Sister's Keeper"?

message 13: by Lucy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lucy Amber J. wrote: "is this remotely close to "My Sister's Keeper"?"

Ummmm there's no organ transplant issues, but there is a reason Jodi Picoult did the cover quote. It's written in a similar vein to a fair bit of her work.

Amber J. I was actually thinking about the relationship between the older sister and the boy she starts dating who's also a patient, yeah, I should have been more specific lol

message 15: by Lucy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lucy Yes, it's a relationship between two people who have/had cancer. They meet in a teen cancer support group.

Stephanie Basically, You said it so much better than I could. Your reasons are my reasons for the 4 stars.

message 17: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim This is a great review, Lucy. You know so much about the author and his work, and all your points are very helpful to the reader.

This was my first read of a John Green book, and I had an extremely positive reaction to it. I didn't see the problems that you so clearly identified, and in my (nearly finished) review I will try to say something about that. Basically, I just had a different (and less informed) vantage point.

I have the highest respect for your views and your intellect. I wouldn't want my review to be taken by anyone as a challenge to any part of yours.

message 18: by Lucy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lucy Hey Jim. I'm a fan of the author's youtube channel. I generally don't want this much background information on authors, their histories, and belief systems. I found myself wondering how I would've felt had he been more of a question mark, but I don't think I would have bought his book if I didn't know so much about him as a person. I didn't love An Abundance of Katherines or Will Grayson, Will Grayson so The Fault in Our Stars probably would have only come to me on a loan.

I'm fine with people responding to my reviews with their own reviews, by the way. It's nice to see how differently people feel about the same point of topic. :)

message 19: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Hey Lucy. I love your thoughtful responses, and the way you pack ideas into every sentence. Not that it's news or anything, but you are extremely gifted, in ways that many other intelligent people are not.

I will definitely check out his youtube channel. I can see both sides of the know-the-author issue, as you do. I get the sense that he is a really interesting guy, and of course extremely intelligent.

I also get the sense that I won't love his other books as much as I did this one. As Amber said in her moving review, I would be setting myself up for a big disappointment to read another of them now. For that reason (in general) I usually go far afield for my next read, especially after a book has had a big impact on me as this one did.

As you probably guessed, I sent you the previous message before posting my review because emotions were running very high for a lot of us at that moment, and I wanted to make it clear that I have extreme respect for your views. I agree 100% that different views have value, whether you agree with them or not. That is a subtlety of goodreads that the manipulators have not understood... but, I digress... Cheers, and thanks!

message 20: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa ILJ This review was amazing, you summed up so much of what I was feeling after finishing. Thank you.

Marci This review (Including the spoilers) is why I now want to read this book. Thank you so much for an honest review, and the spoilers. Sometimes it's nice to know what's coming!

message 22: by Lucy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lucy Marci wrote: "This review (Including the spoilers) is why I now want to read this book. Thank you so much for an honest review, and the spoilers. Sometimes it's nice to know what's coming!"

Then you are the exact person I wrote it for. Thank you for commenting :)

message 23: by Najd (last edited Mar 10, 2012 07:09AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars


(view spoiler)

message 24: by Lucy (last edited Mar 05, 2012 06:40AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lucy Najd, please use spoiler tags. I outline how to use them in my first post.

(view spoiler)

Amber J. I think we are given the impression that (view spoiler), at least that's the impression I got. It wasn't thrown in our faces, but when (view spoiler)

But it definitely didn't seem like (view spoiler)

But I've actually learned something (thanks Lucy), because I had no idea all his novels end this way.

message 26: by Lucy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lucy (view spoiler)

message 27: by Najd (new) - rated it 5 stars

Najd Lucy wrote: "Najd, please use spoiler tags. I outline how to use them in my first post. I edited it.

I felt the same way Amber did. (view spoiler)

Laura Wonderful review, but I beg to differ about the maturity level of the teens. I happen to work in a school with hordes of teens who can, and do, talk like that. As their school librarian, I have to say that I earn every dime of my salary working to meet their academic and recreational reading needs. Many, many! are proud nerdfighters. So, it was easy for me to follow the dialogue - Hazel and Augustus fit right in to my worldview of teens.

Manuel Gomez You do have valid points in review. The only think is we are all different, so we will judge differently the authors point of view. Yes the teenagers have a high I q but so what. Remember its fiction, all made up by Mr. Green. The point of the book I think was how two people in a short period of time can make each other happy. Even though they know something sad will happened. True "Love" is what gives the characters straight in the book. It makes you believe that "Love" can be 5 minutes of your time or it can last a whole life time. Is it "Love" thats to each person to decide. Remember life is to short, so live a little.

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