This is another New York Times best selling novel authored by John Green which is acclaimed to be one of the finest made teenage-themed fiction. The Fault in Our Stars book in 2014 has become a movie and has won a lot of hearts. Although seeing a movie may be fun, many of us love to read the book instead. This book by John Green is a book about the reality of life and death and that of love.
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Readers’ Review on The Fault in Our Stars
I’ve read a lot of books, but this is one of my all time favorites; that’s not something I can say about very many books. I’ll make it simple; I’m a fifteen year old teenage boy. When I usually read a book, I toss it aside and move on to the next one. And, like most teenage boys, I am not very emotional. At the end of this book, I cried. Not just a few tears either; I was full on bawling my eyes out. That’s how good this book is. I promise you, unless you have a heart of stone, you will love this book.
– Alex F.
Although his brother Hank might argue that the real “fault in our stars” is that our sun contains limited amounts of hydrogen, which will cause it to eventually run out of the only fuel source capable of supporting its mass against gravity, thereby expanding until its outer shell envelops our tiny planet and consumes it in a fiery death, I think it is more likely that John Green’s title refers to a line from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:
“The fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)
What does this quote mean and how does it relate to a novel about two kids dying of cancer? I’ll explore that below.
The Fault in Our Stars is the story of two 16-year-olds who meet at a cancer support group. Hazel Lancaster, the narrator, is afflicted with terminal thyroid cancer which has ravaged her lungs enough to necessitate the use of an oxygen tank wherever she goes. It is during a support meeting that she is introduced to Augustus Waters, whose leg was claimed by a malignant bone tumor and who soon becomes the object of her affection.
When I learned of the plot of this novel, I was initially a bit turned off. I’m reminded of a comment a friend made when I asked her if she wanted to go see the movie 50/50, upon which she exclaimed “who wants to go see a movie about people dying of cancer?” I couldn’t come up with a satisfactory response, and we settled for a two-hour movie about the competitive world of robot fighting (which still caused me to shed a tear). So why would anyone, especially young adults, want to read about “cancer kids?
“The Fault in Our Stars” is a work that defies its genre in all the best ways possible. The silly boycrushes and superficial gossip that most writers think makes up 99% of high school steps aside for a beautiful, honest, heartrending story of life, death, and love. I can only compare this book to Markus Zuzak’s award-winning “The Book Thief” in terms of sophistication and depth.
Hazel and Augustus are two of the most fleshed-out characters, particularly teenagers, that I have ever read. Their story is a joy and a privilege to read. Furthermore, their love is more real than anything else you will ever find on the Young Adult shelves.
Note- Read it alone if you can. People give you weird looks when you aren’t sure if you’re laughing or crying.
Part Two: A Response to Several Reviews
This bit is written in response to those who find the dialogue unrealistic, particularly for wee little teenagers. To them, I’d firstly like to request that you stop being condescending. Does every teenager speak like that? No, of course not. But please don’t assume that means all teenagers are incapable of using words with more than two syllables, or lack the brainpower to be witty, insightful, and existential in conversation.
Having spent the last five or so years in this nebulous “teenagerdom”, I believe I may be qualified enough to judge the “teenageriness” of Green’s dialogue. Do the characters sound like teenagers? No. They don’t sound like iCarly, or Bella Swan, or Troy Bolton or the majority of teens in pop culture.
Snippet : The Fault In Our Stars
Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because
I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate
infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.
Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among
the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side
effect of dying. (Cancer is also a side effect of dying. Almost everything is, really.) But my mom
believed I required treatment, so she took me to see my Regular Doctor Jim, who agreed that I was
veritably swimming in a paralyzing and totally clinical depression, and that therefore my meds should
be adjusted and also I should attend a weekly Support Group.
This Support Group featured a rotating cast of characters in various states of tumor-driven unwellness. Why did the cast rotate? A side effect of dying.
The Support Group, of course, was depressing as hell. It met every Wednesday in the basement of a stone-walled Episcopal church shaped like a cross. We all sat in a circle right in the middle of the cross, where the two boards would have met, where the heart of Jesus would have been. I noticed this because Patrick, the Support Group Leader and only person over eighteen in the room, talked about the heart of Jesus every freaking meeting, all about how we, as young cancer survivors, were sitting right in Christ’s very sacred heart and whatever.
So here’s how it went in God’s heart: The six or seven or ten of us walked/wheeled in, grazed at a decrepit selection of cookies and lemonade, sat down in the Circle of Trust, and listened to Patrick recount for the thousandth time his depressingly miserable life story—how he had cancer in his balls and they thought he was going to die but he didn’t die and now here he is, a full-grown adult in a church basement in the 137th nicest city in America, divorced, addicted to video games, mostly friendless, eking out a meager living by exploiting his cancertastic past, slowly working his way toward a master’s degree that will not improve his career prospects, waiting, as we all do, for the
sword of Damocles to give him the relief that he escaped lo those many years ago when cancer took both of his nuts but spared what only the most generous soul would call his life.
AND YOU TOO MIGHT BE SO LUCKY!
Then we introduced ourselves: Name. Age. Diagnosis. And how we’re doing today. I’m Hazel, I’d say when they’d get to me. Sixteen. Thyroid originally but with an impressive and long-settled satellite colony in my lungs. And I’m doing okay.
Once we got around the circle, Patrick always asked if anyone wanted to share. And then began the circle jerk of support: everyone talking about fighting and battling and winning and shrinking and scanning. To be fair to Patrick, he let us talk about dying, too. But most of them weren’t dying. Most would live into adulthood, as Patrick had.
(Which meant there was quite a lot of competitiveness about it, with everybody wanting to beat not only cancer itself, but also the other people in the room. Like, I realize that this is irrational, but when they tell you that you have, say, a 20 percent chance of living five years, the math kicks in and you figure that’s one in five . . . so you look around and think, as any healthy person would: I gotta outlast four of these bastards.)
The only redeeming facet of Support Group was this kid named Isaac, a long-faced, skinny guy with straight blond hair swept over one eye.
And his eyes were the problem. He had some fantastically improbable eye cancer. One eye had been cut out when he was a kid, and now he wore the kind of thick glasses that made his eyes (both the real one and the glass one) preternaturally huge, like his whole head was basically just this fake eye and this real eye staring at you. From what I could gather on the rare occasions when Isaac shared with the group, a recurrence had placed his remaining eye in mortal peril.
Isaac and I communicated almost exclusively through sighs. Each time someone discussed anticancer diets or snorting ground-up shark fin or whatever, he’d glance over at me and sigh ever so slightly. I’d shake my head microscopically and exhale in response.
So Support Group blew, and after a few weeks, I grew to be rather kicking-and-screaming about the whole affair. In fact, on the Wednesday I made the acquaintance of Augustus Waters, I tried my level best to get out of Support Group while sitting on the couch with my mom in the third leg of a twelvehour marathon of the previous season’s America’s Next Top Model , which admittedly I had already seen, but still.
Me: “I refuse to attend Support Group.”
Mom: “One of the symptoms of depression is disinterest in activities.”
Me: “Please just let me watch America’s Next Top Model. It’s an activity.”
Mom: “Television is a passivity.”
Me: “Ugh, Mom, please.”
Mom: “Hazel, you’re a teenager. You’re not a little kid anymore. You need to make friends, get
out of the house, and live your life.”
Me: “If you want me to be a teenager, don’t send me to Support Group. Buy me a fake ID so I
can go to clubs, drink vodka, and take pot.”
Mom: “You don’t take pot, for starters.”
Me: “See, that’s the kind of thing I’d know if you got me a fake ID.”
Mom: “You’re going to Support Group.”
Mom: “Hazel, you deserve a life.”
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