Tatiana's Reviews > The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
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bookshelves: 2012, ya, why-the-hype, 6, starred-2012
Recommended for: fans of cancer stories and everything John Green writes

As seen on The Readventurer


The Fault in Our Stars currently has a rating of 4.74 on Goodreads, almost everyone I know has given it 5 stars, therefore I'm certain no one would want to read my sour musings, except me and maybe a couple of other like-minded and unimpressed.

What I'd love to know is this - what makes a writer undertake the topic of cancer? So much has already been written about it, so many Lifetime movies filmed, so many tears shed. It literally has been done to death. What new did John Green have to bring to the cancer table?

The way I see it, nothing. Having your terminally sick characters be ironic about their illnesses and swap cancer jokes isn't groundbreaking.

The Fault in Our Stars isn't a bad book, but it's a standard cancer book, and, sadly, a standard John Green book, with standard John Green humor and standard John Green characters speaking in the very same John Green voice.

You have a witty and intelligent protagonist (this time 2, Hazel and Augustus - a female and male versions of Miles/Quentin/Colin), a funny, slightly pathetic sidekick (Isaac - another version of Hassan/Chip/Marcus), a mysterious, unhinged girl, Gus's dead ex (Alaska/Margo clone), and, of course, the signature ROAD TRIP. I can't help but recognize these people and this plot, I've read all of Green's novels.

I understand why so many readers would have such an emotional response to the book. Nothing will get the ladies crying quicker than a kid dying of cancer. Add in some long farewells, painkillers, eulogies and funerals - you can collect buckets of tears. But, IMO, here Green aims for the most obvious, the most easily accessible emotions, for the most typical "life lessons." And for all Green's attempts to be subversive and to make fun of "cancer cliches" - inspirational quotes, heroic cancer survivors, etc. he ended up writing about exactly the same things.

Frankly, I think The Fault in Our Stars is Green's weakest work to date, weaker even than half-baked Zombicorns. Because this, unlike his earlier works, feels commercial and intentionally tearjerky and insincere. It will probably sell the most copies.
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Reading Progress

June 28, 2011 – Shelved
January 24, 2012 – Started Reading
January 24, 2012 –
page 22
7.03%
January 25, 2012 –
page 91
29.07%
January 25, 2012 – Shelved as: 2012
January 25, 2012 – Shelved as: ya
January 25, 2012 – Finished Reading
January 29, 2012 – Shelved as: why-the-hype
January 15, 2019 – Shelved as: 6
January 15, 2019 – Shelved as: starred-2012

Comments Showing 1-50 of 322 (322 new)


Tatiana ALL? I never heard of it. Considering how popular it is on amazon, I can't see how it is possible to sign them all.


Tatiana Oh my! His poor hands!


Sasha Tatiana, I can't wait for you to read this!


message 4: by Katie (new)

Katie I look forward to reading your review. I don't "do" cancer books (sad sad sad).


Tatiana I am very much prejudiced against "cancer" books too. But it's John Green, so I am giving him benefit of the doubt.


message 6: by Faith (new) - added it

Faith I'm going to meet him tomorrow! He and his brother are doing a signing! I'm so excited.


Beth Same! I hope you enjoy it! I have so far :)


Melody To The Harmony This book is killing me.


message 9: by Phoebe (new)

Phoebe Oh, interesting. I can't wait for your review. I'm having my husband read this for me first to figure out if the cancer aspect is something I can handle. It's one of the few genuinely triggering issues for me.


Tatiana I am going against the grain here, so I doubt my opinion will be of help to anyone:)


message 11: by Sasha (last edited Jan 25, 2012 10:11PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sasha Eeep! I'm sorry you didn't like it as much as I did. :( For me especially, I think it just really hit home at the right time. I see your point on the "typical John Green novel" and can definitely respect that but he seems to have found a good formula for him. :)

As always, I love to read your reviews! Thanks, Tatiana!

Out of curiosity, what do you think JG's strongest work is?


message 12: by Phoebe (new)

Phoebe Tatiana wrote: "I am going against the grain here, so I doubt my opinion will be of help to anyone:)"

Dissenting reviews are always helpful. Nice explanation. Guess I'll have to read it and see if we feel similarly. :)


Tatiana Probably Looking for Alaska. Everything after that is repetitive and all too familiar.


message 14: by Maya (last edited Jan 25, 2012 10:23PM) (new)

Maya this review reminds me a bit of how I felt about If I Stay. But I believe your review will be helpful for a precise group of readers (like me).


message 15: by Penny (last edited Jan 25, 2012 10:33PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Penny I saw this at the bookstore this past weekend. I just about bought it too, without even reading the book's description first. Thankfully, at the last moment I did read the dust jacket and saw that this was a cancer book. A book about a couple of teenagers who have cancer. Falling in love for the first time in their lives (I'm guessing). While they're losing the battle with Cancer. Oh, the cruelty!

Of course, in order for it to be a John Green novel, only one of them will die (the adorably quirky but unstable pixie girl?)

I set that baby back on the shelf and walked away. I was like hello, John Green, it's been done a billion other times already! And I think a good rule of thumb for authors should be, if it seems like something Nicholas Sparks would write, don't do it.

Great review as always, Tatiana.


message 16: by Eve (new) - added it

Eve Davids Tatiana, you should get an award or something for the help you give us your friends with books. I knew I should hold off reading this when all the five star reviews started popping up. Contrary to others, I'm always suspicious of books that rack up a bunch of five star reviews.

Anyway, Kat was right. Your reviews are indeed brilliant. You've developed a special expertise at this that you dont have to write a 500 word review to get your point across.
It would be so wonderful if you started a review blog!


message 17: by AudryT (new)

AudryT To me, adding cancer to a book that is not a true-life nonfic is like having your villain running around literally stealing lollipops from babies and kicking puppies. It takes a helluva writer to pull that off, and it has to be someone who won't be suckered into pushing the easy emo buttons. I haven't read this book, but I don't expect I will, because I am *that* reluctant to read a book that uses such an easy emotional gut punch for its premise. He could do a great job with it, but I'd need skeptical people similar to myself to tell me that before I picked it up, and you're telling me otherwise. Thanks for the review -- you're not the only one who feels this way about tricky, emotionally manipulative topics like this one.


message 18: by Caitlin (new) - added it

Caitlin Your first John Green book is always the best John Green book. Then after that, suddenly, a John Green book simply becomes another John Green book.


Tatiana Thank you for the comments, ladies.

I respect John, but in this case the fact that his book is blurbed by Jodi Picoult is very telling. I feel he can do better that this, unless, of course, his goal is to become the next Sparks.


Nomes Tatiana wrote: "Thank you for the comments, ladies.

I respect John, but in this case the fact that his book is blurbed by Jodi Picoult is very telling. I feel he can do better that this, unless, of..."



LOL @ becoming the next Sparks.

Tatiana, I struggled very much with this book. It took me eight days to sludge through it ~ and I was exclusively reading it, nothing else. I should have gone with my instincts and abandoned it, realising there was nothing in it for me.

I still feel so drained/ambivalent about it, that I haven't summoned up any energy to review it.

Disappointing.


Tatiana It was a struggle for me as well, Nomes. Especially the middle part. Ah, who am kidding, the ending as well. It was predictable and played out exactly like you'd think after reaching "the twist."


David Good review, I pretty much had the same issues. About 1/3 of the way in I thought it might be his best, but it lapsed into his typical plot line, as you said it was a bit Lifetime-y, and the dialogue almost became overwhelming for me in its lack of any sort of realism. I don't have a problem suspending disbelief when necessary, but I don't think this is the type of book where one should need to do that.


message 23: by Katie (new)

Katie Thank-you! You confirmed my suspicions. I am a little surprised he decided to use the John Green Formula in this one, too. I read Will Grayson, Will Grayson and loved it. So, I read Looking for AlaskaandPaper Towns, then I tried An Abundance of Katherinesand quit. How many times can he write the same story and get paid for it? He's young and just starting his career; with any luck, he'll get out of this plot template rut, or he'll collaborate with John Leviathan again (oddly, I don't particularly like either of their solo work, but when they come together, I love it).

Great review!


oliviasbooks Okay, I won't read it.


message 25: by Megan (new)

Megan Only John Green book I've ever read was Paper Towns, but I disliked it so much that the devil on my shoulder does a little happy dance whenever I see a negative review of a John Green book (which is a rare thing!)


message 26: by Crystal Starr Light (last edited Jan 27, 2012 09:00AM) (new)

Crystal Starr Light I've only read two John Green "books": Paper Towns and his short story in the anthology, Let it Snow. Both are okay enough, but nothing that extraordinary. What surprised (and kinda irritated--if that is even the proper word for what I felt--me) was when reading "Let It Snow", the plot, characters, road trip felt as if it had been ripped straight out of "Paper Towns". I admire his ability to make smart characters, but if each story is basically going to be about Quentin/Margo/Funny sidekick, I'm done.


message 27: by Stephanie (last edited Jan 26, 2012 08:46AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Stephanie I was trying to understand the hype at the end of the day. I haven't read any of his other novels...but mostly everyone else I know on GR gave this book such high praise and said it made them bawl. I just felt...disconnected? I enjoyed the wit, and even some very well place existential thought's and well placed lines of truth. Overall, though, underwhelmed.


Tatiana If you've noticed that after reading only one novel and one short story, it show just how obvious Green's writing shortcomings are.

I suppose if one enjoys his characters very much, he/she will enjoy this new work of his as well.


Tatiana Megan wrote: "Only John Green book I've ever read was Paper Towns, but I disliked it so much that the devil on my shoulder does a little happy dance whenever I see a negative review of a John Gree..."

I know the feeling. Reading negs of a book you dislike can be very... therapeutic. :)


Tatiana Stephanie wrote: "I was trying to understand the hype at the end of the day. I haven't read any of his other novels...but mostly everyone else I know on GR gave this book such high praise and said it made them bawl...."

Stephanie, JG has a very strong following, so I am not surprised to see such an overwhelming support of his new novel. It contains everything that his fans have come to enjoy in his previous works. But I wish he would challenge himself more as a writer.


Jessica Good review. I'm still trying to figure out what my star rating is going to be on this one. (That's the fault in MY stars, ha ha.)

I agree with the comment above that "the first John Green Book you read is the best one." For me that was PAPER TOWNS. Since, they've just dropped off, and I think it is because they are the same book.

Formula can be great--I will totally own up to liking a lot of John Grisham--but it gets staid after a while, and I agree--this one felt so intentional. I could see the hand over the marionette and that wasn't fun.


Stephanie I'm intrigued enough over to go and read some of his other works thought, just to see if his earlier works are more subtle in his goals of philosophizing through his characters. I love smart people, teens, and thinking, I just think in a fiction novel, it takes a special hand to put it together so that it's executed without making it jarring for the reader.


message 33: by Kyle (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kyle *Sigh* I was afraid he wouldn't do something different, in terms of the cancer story and the really annoying reoccuring characters.


Janine I am just going to answer your question, John Green wrote a cancer book, partly because he's wanted to for 10 years and partly because his friend Esther Earl died of thyroid cancer.


message 35: by rachel (last edited Jan 26, 2012 03:02PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

rachel This review pleases me. It is so rare to see even any part-criticism of his work and as I am not a fan, I am always glad to see someone daring to do so. ;)


Claire Have you ever seen any of John Green's videos on YouTube? I feel like I'm always biased when it comes to John Green's work because I admire him and his enthusiasm so much (something I see in his videos mostly). But as fan of John Green, I can see that he's not the best author by miles and his work is very formulaic. He actually made a blog post on tumblr acknowledging that his themes do get repetitive. I just wonder why he doesn't push himself as an author if he recognises some of his flaws, because I really do admire him as a person.


Beryl S.K. I totally agree with this review. I find it too bad the book is being plastered with five stars when it's clearly not that good.


message 38: by Jami (new)

Jami The only John Green I've read was An Abundance of Katherines, and I just wasn't super impressed. It had some funny dialogue and a few quirky characters (I mean, really? You can only date girls named Katherine spelled with a K??), but I wondered if I had maybe just picked the wrong JG book to start out with. Now I wonder if I'd love any of them since so many agree they are incredibly similar.

Great review, Tatiana!


message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

I think a big reason why a lot of people are praising this (specifically Nerdfighters) is because it hits home with the nerdfighter community (I don't know if you are a watcher of John's videos on YouTube) with the influence that Esther Earl (she died of Hazel's cancer at sixteen) had on the community. He worked as a Chaplin at a children's hospital for five months which is why he originally started writing a cancer story.
And I, for one, will never get tired of John Green humor. :)


message 40: by Lucy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lucy Hu John Green worked as a hospital chaplain for a brief period of time when he was 22. He's essentially been trying to write this novel since then. It's less about the actual cancer, and more about its effect on those who have it. It focuses on the characters coming to terms with imminent tragedy, not the tragedy of cancer.


message 41: by Phoebe (new)

Phoebe In various places on the internet, John himself has emphasized that a book's meaning is up to the reader, not the author--and, I'd imagine, not the author's biography--to decide. In light of that, Tatiana's response is more than reasonable and appropriate, regardless of whether his novel was based on his experiences with a young cancer patient or as a hospital chaplain.


message 42: by Jami (new)

Jami Well put, Phoebe. Especially as the majority of readers of any book are most likely going to be unfamiliar with an author's background or experiences. The writing itself must be able to stand on its own, IMO.


message 43: by Cory (new) - rated it 3 stars

Cory Phoebe wrote: "In various places on the internet, John himself has emphasized that a book's meaning is up to the reader, not the author--and, I'd imagine, not the author's biography--to decide. In light of that, ..."

Thank you, Phoebe, for saying what I wanted to say with much more tact.


message 44: by Lucy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lucy Hu I was simply responding the the question of, "What I'd love to know is this - what makes a writer to undertake the topic of cancer?." His biography shouldn't affect what you take away from the book itself, and I was simply stating something that answers your question that regard's author's intent. When you ask a question in regard's to the author's intent, it generally will use some sort of biographical data/information/motive.

And, I believe you are misinterpreting what I was saying. The novel doesn't follow anyone he knew or represent his actual experience with cancer patients.


message 45: by Phoebe (new)

Phoebe I was simply responding the the question of, "What I'd love to know is this - what makes a writer to undertake the topic of cancer?."

That was pretty clearly a hypothetical question, which Tatiana answers herself in the review.


message 46: by Lucy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lucy Hu She covers it eloquently and well-yes, I agree with that completely. I'm simply providing some insight into the mind of the author, which does not affect how we perceive the work, but is relavent with regards to author's intent.


message 47: by John (new) - rated it 3 stars

John Egbert I liked it so much a few days ago, but looking back on it this review is exactly on point. Coming to this realization makes me feel like I cheated myself somehow when deciding that this was epic and the best of JG.


message 48: by Jig (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jig Seems that you were so wrapped up in the fact that it was a "cancer book" To me it seems you didnt really understand most of what the book was saying. The cancer was a prop, a device, to describe what its like to but not dead but not really alive either. Did the themes of some infinities are greater than others, and the universe being noticed and noticing the universe, and many more go over your head? It seems like you maybe have read too many books to give this one a fair review. Its like the movie critic who has seen about every movie ever made that hates or undermines ALL new movies because it didnt "add anything new" This is exactly why john green writes for teenagers because he knows people like you probably have become numb to the passionate themes that are important to learning about yourself and growing up. To me, this was the most touching, funny, smart, simultaneously real and surreal book i have ever read. But you know what? I havent read a thousand books either. But i'm glad that I am the type of person to be blown away by this type of book, or any book for that matter.


Tatiana Jig wrote: "Seems that you were so wrapped up in the fact that it was a "cancer book" To me it seems you didnt really understand most of what the book was saying. The cancer was a prop, a device, to describe w..."

This is hilarious! And a new one! I can't appreciate a book because I've read too much! Goodness, what's next? I can't appreciate a book because I can read?


message 50: by Phoebe (new)

Phoebe It's all that knowledge getting in the way of your reading, Tatiana!


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