Nataliya's Reviews > The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2013-reads, i-also-saw-the-film


So, book, you decided not to play fair, huh? You used Tearjerking 101, huh? You armed yourself with adorably precocious teenage characters delivering insanely quotable lines while dying from cancer, huh?

Well, guess what - "I'm not cryyyyying! It's just been raining on my face..."
And so my hard-won cool image of a cold-hearted cynic has been saved by this line, courtesy of New Zealand's 4th most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo:

Seriously, book, you know that most heartstrings cannot resist being tugged on in this fashion, especially when you are using kids who are off the charts on the precocious cuteness scale with all their precocious irony, precocious sarcasm, precocious world-weariness and precocious vocabulary.
Are you tired of reading the word 'precocious' yet? Too bad, since adorable and fragile precociousness is at the 'literal heart' of this book. That's what alienated some readers - but I'm a sucker for precociousness in literature; guilty, your Honor!
------
Like with any literature, what you get out of this book varies based on how you choose to interpret it.

You can see it as a shameless use of a serious medical condition in children in order to make money and get recognition (because it's kids dying from cancer, c'mon!)
Cancer in kids has been used as a tearjerker before. Google 'TV tropes Littlest Cancer Patient', please. Here, I will save you the trouble.
You can see it as a cutesy young adult love story. You can see it as a collection of quotable lines clearly put into the speech of teens by the middle-aged author. You can see it as yet another coming-of-age novel (there's even a requisite trip/adventure in there, really). You can even see it as a book trying really hard to NOT be a stereotypical 'cancer book' - to the point where characters are stating so at length.

And you know what? All these are to some extent true.

But what I got out of it, what made me tear up a bit was the motif of fragility of life as seen by the children who have a limited supply of that life, basically a limited 'infinity'. Reading it, I got a few flashbacks to Pediatric Oncology - the time in medical school when I realized that I'm not strong enough to be a pediatrician and see kids suffer and die.

Hazel Lancaster and Augustus Waters are the two children with cancer. She has terminal thyroid cancer and is tethered to an oxygen tank; he falls victim to metastatic osteosarcoma (before you scream 'Spoiler!' in outrage, I sincerely ask you - how could you not have seen it coming?) They introduce themselves in their cancer support group by stating their diagnoses - and my heart breaks a little at the thought of children learning to define themselves by their disease. Even their favorite book is the cancer book.

But no, "I'm not cryyyying...."
This is not a perfect book. It relies a little too heavily on tearjerking. Frequently, it gets to be a bit too full of itself, occasionally cringeworthy - sometimes to eye-rolling extent. But with the quotability factor and the smart precociousness still comes the real sadness and cuteness and feeling that clawed its way into my heart and made me love it despite the imperfections. Maybe I liked it because of associations and memories it brought with it rather than for its own merits - but hey, the emotions will stay with me for a while, whatever the reason for them may be.

I think this book would have a huge appeal to teenagers, its intended audience. The characters are relatable, they are intelligent, and the male lead manages to transform from 'oh, rly, jerk?' to a considerate and lovely young man. The parents are present in the lives of both teens and are portrayed in a very sympathetic light; definitely no 'absent parent syndrome' here! Plus, it has a healthy portrayal of teenage sexuality, unlike what we frequently see in young adult literature.

So great book? No. But I easily give it 3.75 stars and therefore rounding up to 4 stars (Is the fault in them? Go figure.)
“The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we'd done were less real and important than they had been hours before.”
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Reading Progress

March 15, 2013 – Started Reading
March 15, 2013 – Shelved
March 15, 2013 –
43.0% "I pride myself on having a tough cynical heart. I am an adult who is in control of her emotions. I don't have a sentimental bone in my body. Seriously.\n \n So why the hell do I need to interrupt my reading of this book because I'm getting teary-eyed??? Book, you are not supposed to do that to me."
March 16, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-39 of 39 (39 new)

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Diane I bought this last month - look forward to your thoughts. I haven't started it yet but plan to soon!


Tess (books.with.tess) John Green does that to you. He rips your heart out, stomps on it and inserts spikes, before he gently puts it back and lovingly kiss your forehead.
THAT BASTARD.
;)


Stacia (the 2010 club) We all get a little rain on our face sometimes.


Nataliya Stacia (does not squee) wrote: "We all get a little rain on our face sometimes."

But the important thing is - we are not crying.


Richard Derus

Me, after reading Doc's review. (I've shed my antlers for the year.)


Nataliya Richard wrote: "

Me, after reading Doc's review. (I've shed my antlers for the year.)"


Aww, Richard!


Sesana Isn't there a law against linking to TV Tropes without warning about the black hole that will suck up all of your free time? There should be.

This is the only John Green book I haven't read yet. I'm putting it off until I'll be able to handle it.


s.penkevich +1000000 cool points for Conchords references!
I keep debating picking this up, I think I should now. Fantastic review!


message 9: by Gea (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gea “The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we'd done were less real and important than they had been hours before.”

I just read this quote from your review and started crying. From a two sentence paragraph! But, my mom just died and this quote feels soooo true. Being that I'm at a fire house, I have quickly dried my eyes. No crying aloud on this job for sure, although since it's my mom, I think they'd understand.

Thanks again, Nataliya, for a great review.


message 10: by Henry (new)

Henry Avila Stupendous review again,Nataliya.Heavy topic,very sad when you see a relative die from cancer.


message 11: by Julia (new) - added it

Julia Maybe not a perfect book, but certainly a perfect review.


Nataliya Gea wrote: "I just read this quote from your review and started crying. From a two sentence paragraph! But, my mom just died and this quote feels soooo true. Being that I'm at a fire house, I have quickly dried my eyes. No crying aloud on this job for sure, although since it's my mom, I think they'd understand."

I am so sorry for your loss, Gea. It's so difficult to lose a family member. I hope you are doing okay.

s.penkevich wrote: "+1000000 cool points for Conchords references!
I keep debating picking this up, I think I should now. Fantastic review!"


Thanks, s.penke! I just love Bret and Jamaine.

Sesana wrote: "Isn't there a law against linking to TV Tropes without warning about the black hole that will suck up all of your free time? There should be."

Every time I venture over to TV Tropes, I should be giving people a heads-up to send a rescue party if I haven't resurfaced in the non-digital world for a few days.

@ Henry and Juliebird - Thanks!


Megan A great review mixed with Flight of the Conchords equals a new level of epic! I've been debating for awhile whether to read this but you have convinced me to read it.


Nataliya Megan wrote: "A great review mixed with Flight of the Conchords equals a new level of epic! I've been debating for awhile whether to read this but you have convinced me to read it."

Thanks, Megan! It's not a perfect story but it's worth the time to read it.


message 15: by Dan (new)

Dan Schwent Flight of the Conchords! I keep looking for a reason to work Jemaine dressed like David Bowie into a review.


message 16: by Nataliya (last edited Mar 23, 2013 04:30PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nataliya Dan wrote: "Flight of the Conchords! I keep looking for a reason to work Jemaine dressed like David Bowie into a review."

You don't need to look for a reason to do that; just do it (to quote Nike ad).

However, I am considering reviewing 'Lord of the Rings' just so I can use Flight of the Conchords' 'Frodo, Don't Wear the Ring!' in the review ;)


message 17: by D.C. (new)

D.C. Gallin "You can see it as a collection of quotable lines clearly put into the speech of teens by the middle-aged author." Now that completely puts me off the book, just that one line: If you hear the author speaking instead of the characters the author is preaching, no matter how funny, pushing their own view points at the cost of a convincing story and its characters...


David - proud Gleeman in Branwen's adventuring party HA HA! Love your wit and writing style, Nataliya :D


Nataliya D.C. wrote: ""You can see it as a collection of quotable lines clearly put into the speech of teens by the middle-aged author." Now that completely puts me off the book, just that one line: If you hear the aut..."

In this book, you can easily feel the presence of the author behind the characters, yes. But it did not feel as a writing flaw or as the author's inability to write teenage characters. Rather it felt as an intentional move on the author's part - perhaps to illustrate the accelerated maturity these kids have gone through as a result of the disease that makes them face their own mortality at the time when the rest of teens are pretty much basking in the illusion of their own invincibility.

Having not read anything else by John Green, I don't know whether this comes through in his other books, however.

But I may be biased as I frequently would prefer a middle-aged voice to the true-to-life mainstream teenage one in literature. Who knows? (Clearly I don't).

--------
David wrote: "HA HA! Love your wit and writing style, Nataliya :D"

Thanks, David!


message 20: by D.C. (new)

D.C. Gallin "Rather it felt as an intentional move on the author's part - perhaps to illustrate the accelerated maturity these kids have gone through as a result of the disease" that's a great explanation... Thanks.


Nataliya D.C. wrote: ""Rather it felt as an intentional move on the author's part - perhaps to illustrate the accelerated maturity these kids have gone through as a result of the disease" that's a great explanation... Thanks."

You are welcome, D.C. :)


message 22: by Susan (new)

Susan Read Paper Towns, might add to you view point.


Nataliya Susan wrote: "Read Paper Towns, might add to you view point."

How? Does it feature some of the same characters? Or do you mean that being more familiar with John Green's works will help me better appreciate this one?


Ronyell Awesome, awesome review Nataliya! I really loved this book myself!


Nataliya Ronyell wrote: "Awesome, awesome review Nataliya! I really loved this book myself!"

Thanks, Ronyell :)


Ronyell Nataliya wrote: "Ronyell wrote: "Awesome, awesome review Nataliya! I really loved this book myself!"

Thanks, Ronyell :)"


You're welcome! :D


message 27: by Jess (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jess I just wanted to add that I really appreciated your review because I wasn't really able to put into words what i felt for this book. I have just read a few of your other reviews and can't wait to get some of the books you have reviewed!=) Thanks so much for taking the time to write such insightful reviews.


message 28: by Dion (new) - added it

Dion Loved your review. Now I'm really intrigued to read it.


Princessfaz Thanks for using flight of the conchords in your review! My favorite song of theirs!! :)


Nataliya Princessfaz wrote: "Thanks for using flight of the conchords in your review! My favorite song of theirs!! :)"

You are welcome! I love Flight of the Conchords. Bret and Jemaine are awesome :)


Aurora You perfectly summed up my feelings for this book, Nataliya!


message 32: by Raymond (new) - added it

Raymond I went through your list! I am going to read this book soon! Haha! Will review it when I am done! I love Looking For Alaska!


message 33: by Sara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sara Right on point!


Tarah You domt understand how beautiful this book was.....this man works miracles


message 35: by Dina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dina Hadfina ha! you had me at Tearjerking 101. totally agree!


[Name Redacted] I just read this. It didn't blow me out of the water, but it was a lot better than I expected!


Marissa I agree with your statement, but I felt that they were both over intelligent in the book. As I read the book, I felt that Augustus was too smart and made very scripted comments. This made the characters feel less relatable to me.


Amanda burgos this book, is filled with such passionate literature that moves the heart of everyone who reads it. Its crazy how much hazel and Gus form an unforgettable bond that soon turn into a love that no other has formed


message 39: by Molly (new)

Molly Ringle I haven't even read this book (I don't do that kind of thing to myself), but YOU WIN for Flight of the Conchords references! :D


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