Katya's Reviews > The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
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Dec 27, 13

bookshelves: 2012, geek-love, contemporary-ya, dramarama, the-ya-project
Read from February 10 to 11, 2012

EDIT, 16.04.2012 For further analysis of the themes in the story, my Book Lantern post. Warning, spoilers included! Is the Fault Really in Our Stars?

Also, Meghan's follow up post:
Augustus Waters: Hero or Zero?

The first time I heard about The Fault In Our Stars was in a vlog by John Green, and my thoughts ran along the lines of: "Oh, new book. Nice. Might check it out of the library." And that's that. It wasn't until the early shipping fiasco and the subsequent blog posts that I really considered seeking the book out to see if it was worth all the hype it got .

Look, I like John Green alright, he has his own thing going on. And I admire him for creating a sense of community amongst nerds everywhere - it's not an easy feat, and it's nice to be made to feel great about who you are and what you do. But something bothered me about that vlog and the subsequent reactions of people to it. I didn't know what it was until last night... and I'll get to that in a minute.

Anyways, The Fault in Our Stars tells the story of Hazel, who, after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer at 12, was ready to die, before a medical miracle saved her... for now. At Cancer Support Group, she meets Augustus, who is in remission after having lost his leg to osteosarcoma fourteen months prior. And while Hazel makes it her policy not to get too close to people for fear of hurting them when she dies, she can't help but to start falling for Augustus.

Here's what I hand in to John Green: he knows how to write his dialogue. I had plenty of laugh out loud moments. And he's not pulling any punches - he doesn't prettify cancer. He doesn't make his characters out to be some perfect saints, he doesn't make them seem heroic. There's a lot that can be said about grief and grieving and the difference between the face you put on for people and what you really feel.

That said, I don't feel like I should have sought this book out the way I did. My first thought, when reading the opening chapters, was something along the lines of: "Oh, my God, John Green has written a manic pixie dream boy". The trademark Green novel elements are here: a love interest that is just too perfect, quirky and smart characters, a secondary cast that is barely developed further than their function. Hazel's high school friend Kaitlyn has about three scenes in the book, in which she does nothing but direct our main character to helpful plot points.

I didn't mind Augustus, although like many other readers have pointed out, he talks like he reads from a script. His pretentiousness, him tailoring his actions based on their metaphorical meaning - those traits of his irritated me to no end. I kept wondering "Who talks like that?" I get it that cancer kids are supposed to be precocious, but there are ways to make this seem plausible and organic and Green completely overlooked them.

But ultimately, what pissed me off was the fact that the book gets so deep, and at the same time says absolutely nothing. Hazel and Augustus talk about death and whether it's better to live fully and leave scars, or to thread lightly and minimize the damage. (view spoiler)

I think what this book is about, in the end, is that human lives are governed by chance and coincidence. Peter Van Houten exclaims, at one point, how Shakespearean Gus and Hazel's tragedy is, and indeed, "Romeo and Juliet" would not have been quite so poignant if not for the horrible, horrible timing. My own timing of reading this book was bad - this past week has been very difficult for me and reading two cancer books would have ended up depressing me to no end. In the end, what TFIOS is telling us is that sucky timing exists... and that's that.

Which brings me back to why I felt so uneasy about the hype surrounding this book. People will argue whether spoilers are good and bad and if Green has any right to ask people not to spoil his book (even if that limits discussion), (even if it sounds suspiciously like telling people how to review his book). I personally think people don't spoil books on purpose, and if someone does post huge spoilers on the Internet, the author telling them not to will not have an impact. (view spoiler)

But the reason why this bothered me is that... honestly... it's such a ridiculous thing to make a big deal of. Spoiling a book isn't some earth ending calamity, and there are certainly worse things to worry over. If this is John Green's biggest concern, then he's very lucky, very privileged indeed.

He deserves his kudos and the respect of his fans. His credibility will not be questioned. He's not very likely to get cyber bullied, not as much as a female author/blogger might, and he certainly won't be discriminated over his race, nationality or sexuality.

No, the only thing he can apparently crusade about is having a spoiler-free world. Well, bless him, then. I'm sure he's going to have fun with that.
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Reading Progress

02/10/2012 "Alright, John Green. Impress me."
02/10/2012
3.0% "Let it be known right from the start: I do not object to trying to create a spoiler-free experience for fans. I object to telling fans that spoilers are bad."
02/10/2012
12.0% "Oh, Cait, I see a namesake making an appearance. Also, Augustus talks like he reads from a script."
02/10/2012
24.0% "Paranoia over spoiling a book? Sounds familiar."
02/10/2012
29.0% "Kaitlyn is hilarious. And she better evolve into something else or I shall rain bloody retribution."

Comments (showing 1-29 of 29) (29 new)

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message 1: by Phoebe (new)

Phoebe Ohh, very interested to read your review!


Rose I have this on the upper tier of my "to read" queue at present. Looking forward to reading your review, Katya.


Katya I don't know if there's a point. How can you possibly discuss books without spoiling them even a little? I bet I'd get a blasting if I let the tiniest thing slip.


message 4: by Phoebe (new)

Phoebe I can't be the only one to feel like the stuff that might be "spoiled" here was pretty evident from about 50 pages in onward?


message 5: by Kaia (new)

Kaia Katya wrote: "I don't know if there's a point. How can you possibly discuss books without spoiling them even a little? I bet I'd get a blasting if I let the tiniest thing slip."

Mark it with a spoiler warning. Then anyone who bitches as you for it is clearly an idiot.

Call me crazy, but...isn't trying to stop reviewers from putting spoilers in their reviews just another way of trying to tell them how and what they're allowed to write?


Katya Phoebe wrote: "I can't be the only one to feel like the stuff that might be "spoiled" here was pretty evident from about 50 pages in onward?"

That's what I meant with my first comment. The stuff is evident. The spoiler-free experience basically maximizes the tear-jerker factor.


Rose Kaia wrote: "Katya wrote: "I don't know if there's a point. How can you possibly discuss books without spoiling them even a little? I bet I'd get a blasting if I let the tiniest thing slip."

Mark it with a spo..."


My thoughts exactly.


Cory Phoebe wrote: "I can't be the only one to feel like the stuff that might be "spoiled" here was pretty evident from about 50 pages in onward?"

It's a John Green cancer book blurbed by the queen of emotion porn. The spoiler is so obvious it's dancing naked in a vat of icing on your front lawn. He's either really dumb or really egotistical if he thinks his writing is so brilliant that he's actually created a Fight Club-esque reveal.


message 9: by Phoebe (last edited Feb 11, 2012 10:22AM) (new)

Phoebe Well, I don't know about dumb or egotistical. But I do think all this talk about the terror of spoilers suggests that there's a dramatic twist. And (view spoiler).


message 10: by Kaia (new)

Kaia It's a grief porn book about two kids with cancer, right? Obviously, someone's going to die, it's going to be the character you're not supposed to expect it to be (but do anyway) and when it happens, exactly no one is surprised.

What's to spoil?


message 11: by Phoebe (new)

Phoebe Kaia wrote: "What's to spoil? "

Throughout the book, there's mention of another book where (view spoiler). The narrator of TFioS seems to believe this is a violation of the contract between reader and author, suggesting this wouldn't happen in TFioS, but all the talk of spoilers increased tension over that for me (despite the fact that it seemed to violate the very premises laid down by Green). I suspect I wasn't alone in that.


Katya At any rate, I didn't think the book was worth all the discussion it raised. Now, the book I'm reviewing at the moment... now that's a juggernaut if I ever tackled one.


message 13: by Cory (new) - rated it 3 stars

Cory Phoebe wrote: "Well, I don't know about dumb or egotistical. But I do think all this talk about the terror of spoilers suggests that there's a dramatic twist. And [spoilers removed]."

I just think he's letting all this go to his head. I mean, it's obvious that there's a huge spoiler since you're telling people not to spoil. And since this is a cancer book blurbed by she who wrote a cancer book with the worst spoiler ever and you yourself wrote a book where the love interest died... I mean, dude, do you think your readers are stupid?

On one hand, I kind of want to read it because I like his prose. On the other hand, well, I'm just not motivated to care enough to pick it up off my shelf. I feel the same way about the last HP movie. I still haven't seen it because I know how it ends and I know I'll be disappointed.


message 14: by Emil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emil A lot of people read reviews to get a general sense of a book before buying. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking reviewers to be considerate and not spoil parts of the story for them. If a reviewer would like to discuss/analyze the story in detail, he/she can simply put out a spoiler warning. Honestly, i find it pretty incredible that some people have the gall to presume to know enough about the reading experiences of others' so as conclude something like "ah it was so obvious anyone could've seen what was coming." Who are you to speak for me? (No, I didn't see what was coming, and if I had known it would've completely changed the book for me.)


Katya Emil wrote: "A lot of people read reviews to get a general sense of a book before buying. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking reviewers to be considerate and not spoil parts of the story for them. I..."

Personally, I wasn't bothered about the asking not to spoil bit as I was of the big deal he made out of asking not to spoil. If you look at general reviews of other books, you'll see people avoiding spoilers without having been told so. I don't object to Green asking people to be considerate. I'm objecting to him getting on his high priviledged horse, and acting like spoiling is the worst thing ever to happen. And, if you think that it's presumptuous to decide how people should read a book, you should address your complaints to Green himself, for assuming so little of his readers' intelligence and acting like they can't be considerate on their own in the reviews they write.


message 16: by Emil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emil Look, the truth is I think John Green can be a little melodramatic...but, his heart was in the right place, and most importantly of all, whether you admit it or not, his reminder probably saved a lot of people from having the story ruined for them. Not putting in spoilers (or putting up a spoiler alert before you post spoilers) is the kind of thing that is obviously the right thing to do in hindsight, but if you've ever read say, Amazon reviews, or if you've ever frequented discussion forums, you'll know that a lot of people post spoilers without warning. Not necessarily because they're stupid or horrible people--sometimes they just forget that not everyone has read the book.


Katya I can see where you're coming from, really, I do. There are times where I've know the ending to a book without wanting to. But I can't get over Green making such a fuss over something which, in the grand scheme of things, isn't that big a deal. See, if he tried to get Nerdfighteria to rally against blogger bullying, then I'll be impressed.


Tameka I don't think his goal was to impress you. I'm sure after working hard on a book that many people are expecting to be amazing, he didn't want the experience ruined by spoilers. I'm not sure how old you were when the 6th Harry Potter book was released, but there were quite a few people who ruined it by posting the ending all over the Internet.

I just feel like the reader experience was/is important to him and he expressed it in his typical overly hyped up John Green way and I am always ok with that.


message 19: by Katya (last edited Mar 16, 2013 12:34AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Katya I think we're going in circles here - you say he's looking out for readers, I say I don't like his way of doing it. I see where you're coming from, but it doesn't change my opinion, of his reaction or of his book. Perhaps, when I'm 30 and have four books published I'll feel differently, but for now I think TFIOS is overhyped and overrated. Green's goal may not have been to impress me, but it didn't make me like his work more.

Sadly, I didn't care for Harry Potter either, not after book four. I guess that makes me a soulless hater, but I genuinely couldn't pick up another volume, so when the spoilers came, I couldn't bring myself to care.


message 20: by Sarah (new)

Sarah NightOwl I haven't read the book, and I only want to point out one specific thing, which is what Cory said!

Cory: "He's either really dumb or really egotistical..."

Uncalled for...isn't that like a personal attack or something? Insulting someone's intelligence?


message 21: by Mkw (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mkw I think that books should be written to be read and discussed, something that cannot be done if you are ignoring the entire end of the book. While I do not agree with spoiling books (everyone should be able to come to the realization on their own) I agree with you in that it should not be made into such a big deal. Also, spoilers do not just appear when you walk out the door - you have to look for them in some way; just my opinion! Everyone is allowed to have their own.


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

cory anyways, vlog.


message 23: by Fernando (new) - added it

Fernando Weise I'd like to read your post on Book Lantern, but the link seems to be broken...


Katya Fernando wrote: "I'd like to read your post on Book Lantern, but the link seems to be broken..."

yeah, we've been having problems since we changed sites. Although, honestly, I've been thinking about amending that review. I've gone from being annoyed at the book, to being pissed off, to feeling completely meh about it.

anyway, link http://www.thebooklantern.co.uk/2012/...


Rebecca I feel like the book is way too predictable for him to worry about spoilers.. but then again seeing as how most of the people reading it are around the same age as Hazel, I guess a lot of them won't find it predictable.


message 26: by Msblack (new)

Msblack 'He's not very likely to get cyber bullied, not as much as a female author/blogger might' Why isn't this getting said enough. If this book were written by a woman it wouldn't get half the praise... And this is coming from someone who liked it.


Vespertine "But ultimately, what pissed me off was the fact that the book gets so deep, and at the same time says absolutely nothing."

I think you have pinpointed one of the things that bothered me the most in this book.


Marissa I agree with you 100 percent. When I read the book, I constantly asked myself, would a teenage boy actually say these things? I wonder if John Green used Augustus as the figure of a perfect boy, almost as a symbol to show others how to act. To me he seemed too well spoken and intelligent for his age.


Allisonsantogrossi You didn't change my mind about the book. I love it, but I respect that


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