tonya.'s Reviews > The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
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Jun 28, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: 2012, ugly-tears, ya, contemporary
Read in January, 2012

More like 2.5 stars. It was good, and I get the hype, but I have definite issues with it.

I think I've said this before, but I have issues with John Green. I think he's a fantastic person; I love the vlog brothers and the nerdfighteria and everything he does to uplift and affirm young people.

But I feel like I read the same characters in every single one of his books. They all have the same voice: his. Girl, boy, heartsick, cancer sick--they're all the same fast talking, twenty-dollar word using, existentialist, metaphor loving caricatures of the author himself.

I liked Hazel Grace and Augustus, but all I could see was John Green pulling the strings above them, waving his hands and gripping his hair and talking a mile a minute to his brother Hank. It's pretentious. Do I think some teenagers--certainly the ones I like to read about--are capable of thoughtful conversations, rife with SAT words and metaphors? Absolutely. Do I think they speak in questioning-the-meaning-of-my-existence soliloquies as often as his characters do? No, I don't.

Additionally, I felt the Van Houten plot device was an unrealistic element (another JG calling card) to a story that didn't need it. The Fault in Our Stars would have been meaningful and thought provoking without the trip to Amsterdam (I mean, really?!). I think John Green did himself a disservice with it; he was more than capable of posing the same questions and arriving at the answers in a realistic way that fit the story.

The Fault in Our Stars had the potential to be a beautiful story, but needed to be written with a less self-conscious hand.
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Reading Progress

01/19/2012 page 24
8.0%
01/19/2012 page 35
11.0% "For the record, I dont think V for Vendetta is a 'boy movie.'"
01/22/2012 page 94
30.0% ":cackles:"
01/22/2012 page 155
50.0% "And here we arrive at my consistent and fundamental problem with John Green: his characters are rarely believable. While sweet, that declaration is wholly improbable and sucked me out of the moment completely."
01/22/2012 page 198
63.0% "Errrrgh."
01/22/2012 page 208
66.0% "I really hope that was not a twilight reference."
01/22/2012 page 258
82.0% "I was pretty sure I was going to squeak by without sobbing, but robot eyes did me in. Damnit."
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Comments (showing 1-29 of 29) (29 new)

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Molly Talbert I definitely don't think it's just a boy's movie! I love it!


Lindsey Rae Really?? Only 3.5?? I'm looking forward to your review.


Stephanie I gave it the same.


Jaime Arkin reading now... lol you've scared me, but this is the only JG book I've read so I'm kinda enamored with it right now.. I'm afraid of the end though, I won't lie.


tonya. Jaime wrote: "reading now... lol you've scared me, but this is the only JG book I've read so I'm kinda enamored with it right now.. I'm afraid of the end though, I won't lie."

Don't get me wrong, I really like him. His books are great, they just have some similar characters. It's a hard book to read, but a beautiful story nonetheless. I will be here with tissues and cupcakes when you're done. <3


Stephanie This was my 1sy JG novel as well, but I was taken out of the story so many times bc I was trying to understand those effing existential monologues and metaphors on a philosophical level that it overshadowed all the funny bits and "normal" teen/relationships stuff. I also felt there wasn't much of a clear distinction between Augustus's and Hazel's voices as characters.


Riley Great review. But I watched JG live online at his Austin event this past weekend, and I think he had something interesting to say about the "believability" of his teen characters. I'm paraphrasing, but basically:

1) Does he think teens are actually that smart / eloquent / funny? Yes, absolutely. Not MANY of them. But some.

1b) And maybe they don't all talk or act like this, but it's less about what they're really like and more about how they see themselves. Related to that...

2) It's not his job to present reality. It's his job to tell a story. What's "most common" is not necessarily important. For example, he wrote a book about a guy who dated 19 girls ALL NAMED KATHERINE. That is not common. And that's okay, in his opinion. Of course he knows not everyone will agree.

So. Yes, the improbably witty dialogue stuck out to me, but I enjoyed the book, partly because of it, partly in spite of it. And my willingness to accept and then overlook it was only reinforced by what he said.


Riley Oh, side note: This was my first JG novel too, b/c I've been put off by all the hype around him. Well, I loved it anyway.


Sugandha THIS: "I have a love/meh relationship with John Green". I have been looking through goodreads to find someone else who isn't totally enamoured with TFioS and until now, I was convinced I was missing something. But really, I totally and completely agree with you in regards to love JG/meh about the books. All the characters are so similar, and perpetually quoting literature or music or something deep and meaningful. I have more feelings/opinions but haven't quite made sense of them yet. /endrant


tonya. Riley wrote: "Great review. But I watched JG live online at his Austin event this past weekend, and I think he had something interesting to say about the "believability" of his teen characters. I'm paraphrasing,..."

I've seen similar comments from him, and I agree. It's not his job to present things "realistically." He can write his characters any way he'd like, and clearly there are a lot of people who enjoy it. I just happen to be in the minority that has a hard time with it.

Sometimes it is witty and funny and even though it's Dawson's Creek dialogue and part of me is rolling my eyes, it works. But sometimes, especially in tender, emotional moments, it comes off pretentious and kills the scene for me. (Specifically, Augustus' declaration on the plane. Too much for me.)

But, like I said, I know I'm in the minority here. When I read a contemporary story (especially one with such an emotionally raw premise) I expect a certain level of realism, and I often don't get that with John Green. But despite that, I do find his books enjoyable on the whole.


tonya. Riley wrote: "Oh, side note: This was my first JG novel too, b/c I've been put off by all the hype around him. Well, I loved it anyway."

I had a hard time with Paper Towns for similar reasons, but 80% of it was awesome. I'd recommend trying that next. :)


tonya. Sugandha wrote: "THIS: "I have a love/meh relationship with John Green". I have been looking through goodreads to find someone else who isn't totally enamoured with TFioS and until now, I was convinced I was missin..."

I'm glad we agree. :) I had a similar problem with Dash and Lily's Book of Dares; sometimes it feels like the authors are throwing a brick at my forehead trying to prove to me how smart their characters are. I know a lot of very smart, well-read, passionate and philosophical teenagers, but when they speak, they still speak like teenagers.


Sandy Tonya wrote: "I had a similar problem with Dash and Lily's Book of Dares; sometimes it feels like the authors are throwing a brick at my forehead trying to prove to me how smart their characters are. I know a lot of very smart, well-read, passionate and philosophical teenagers, but when they speak, they still speak like teenagers."

YES. I'm about 75% done with TFiOS, and it keeps reminding me of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares with these teens that sound about ten years older than they are spouting off these meaning-of-life metaphors and existentialist thoughts. This is my first John Green so I'm in awe of the writing and the sheer wit to it, but I've just had to accept that his teens are going to sound a bit unrealistic.


tonya. Sandy, exactly. It doesn't mean he's not a skilled writer, and as I said in my review--I laughed and I cried and I cried through my laughter, but at the end of the day when I take a closer look at the story, I would have enjoyed it more--it would have meant more--if the characters and their story had been more realistic.


Riley Omg Dash and Lily bothered me SO MUCH. John Green might be improbable, but at least he's consistent. And David Levithan by himself might be too, but with the alternating voices, I felt like it was a love story between a pretentious 30 yr old man and a naive 12 yr old girl. (Okay, that's an exaggeration, but I was seriously annoyed.)

Bottom line: I agree about JG's flaws, but I forgave him/it, at least this time. As for Dash and Lily, the concept was great, but the off-the-mark voices were a real problem for me.

(I still really want to read Lover's Dictionary, though.)


tonya. Riley, I agree about Dash and Lily! The voices were nauseatingly pretentious and off the mark for me. I couldn't even finish it, which sucked because it's a storyline I would have really enjoyed.

I really liked Lover's Dictionary, though it was nothing like I'd anticipated going in. @LoversDiction tweets are awesome too.


Sandy I persevered and finished Dash and Lily, but the payoff at the end was SO. NOT. WORTH. IT. I love the premise and thought there was so much potential there, but Dash has got to be one of the most pretentious characters in YA.


tonya. I stopped reading at the part where he goes into his mother's (?) bookshelf and starts reading off all the lines he'd highlighted throughout the years. Like a full page of lit quotes in the middle of the book... for what? Just to prove to me how smart he was? Ugh. Couldn't stomach it.

And I found Lily very annoying and immature as well.


Riley I stuck with it b/c the book was a gift from friends, but then they read it and we all agreed to give it away on our blog, lol.


Amanda Leon This review is COMPLETELY spot on


message 21: by Victoria (new) - added it

Victoria Lie So right about having his voice. I think thats why I enjoyed this a great deal more than his other books. This time it was a girl so I managed to separate the protagonist from Green himself.


Jessica I agree with the trip to Amsterdam being unnecessary to the story. That really kind of threw the story for me. It just didn't really make sense.


Jessica I agree with the trip to Amsterdam being unnecessary to the story. That really kind of threw the story for me. It just didn't really make sense.


Angel Lawson I really enjoyed this review and feel similar. Thanks for finding the words to express it.


Heather Why Amsterdam? I've been thinking how ludicrous it seems that 16 yr olds Hazel & Gus track down an American who listens to Swedish rap music & lives in Amsterdam. Perhaps it has something to do with this from the acknowledgments: "The Dutch Literature Foundation, for giving me two months in Amsterdam to write." Could it have been any country that provided financial support?


ashcart (booksfordays) Spot on. This is as if you took the words from my mind. I've slowly worked my way through all his work and, while I am optimistic and grateful that he is growing the body of quality fiction available to young adults, I often find myself cringing as his voice haunts me through the characters. Definitely well written, but definitely a little bit of a let down.


Stephanie This was my first John Green book, and based on other reviews mentioning his tendency to recycle characters, I'm glad it was my first. That certainly would have taken away some of the enjoyment for me.


Princess Kayla I really agree. At first I was wrapped up in the ending, and then after a day or so I realized I actually did not like it.


message 29: by Ena (new) - rated it 1 star

Ena Rusnjak Markovic Thank you for articulating some of the discomfort I felt when reading this book. I definitely agree with a lot of what you said, and like you I love the vlogbrothers. But his heavy-handedness really puts a wall between me and his stories. I really don't think his books are great. And believe me, I wanted to think they were. The other thing was the stuff about cancer. My mum died from ovarian cancer and while I can't remember how JG wrote about it, as I read it when it came out and it has been a while since then, I remember it made me feel uncomfortable.


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