The Fault In Our Stars (FINALLY)

Posted February 23, 2012 by Tara in Challenges /// 16 Comments

The cover really tells nothing about what the book is about, but I love it anyway.

The Fault In Our Stars
by John Green
Pre-Ordered from Amazon (signed copy!)
[#16 in my 75 Book Challenge]

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”

I know I’m not the last person on the planet to read this book, because I see some of y’all on Twitter, your blogs, and Goodreads that are also still waiting to read or finish it. But sometimes I feel like I’m the last person to read it, a month late.

This is a story about kids dying from cancer. Hazel Grace Lancaster has been living with terminal Stage IV thyroid cancer since she was twelve. A pharmaceutical miracle saved her life at age fourteen, but Hazel is tethered to an oxygen tank 24/7 and is living on borrowed time. While attending a cancer kid support group, Hazel meets the charming Augustus Waters…and our adventure begins.

Let me say first that this book, while still very John Green-y in it’s nature, is different from the other John Green novels. First, it’s told (very well) through the POV of a girl. And it lacks a Margo/Katherine/Alaska-esque Manic Pixie Dream Girl. And the general plot veers a bit from the standard John Green plots. Just a bit. Like always, though, I loved the quoteable, intellectual moments, the references to classic literature, and the rapid-fire wittiness of the characters. I don’t care if teenagers don’t actually talk like that! They think they do in their heads, and I think I do in my head, so I’m okay reading it in a book. That’s the heart of why I love John Green so much. That his fabulous way of saying profound things in obscure ways.

TFioS is a book about cancer, so I was also well prepared for it to be sad. And it was. I can’t lie — there were teary spots on my pillow. But it wasn’t quite as sad as I was expecting. It felt real, and real things have more emotions than just gut-wrenching sadness. There’s hope. There’s acceptance. There’s fear. I like what John did with this book and I like the discussions that can come out of the story. It certainly made me think about my own life and helped me reconsider some of the fears I have.

Final Grade:   B   As much as I hate it, this particular book isn’t likely to make my top 10 at the end of the year. It was good, and the messages will stick in my brain for a long time. But I think the messages overpowered the plot sometimes. To be completely honest, I think I had difficulty connecting with the plot because I’ve never had anyone close to me die of anything, much less cancer (knock on wood). It will happen one day, I know, but right now I just have no idea how that feels and nothing to connect those emotions to. I imagine someone who has gone through that would give the book five stars. And I do think everyone should read it, so I would definitely recommend it to all of my students and friends. Even people who don’t like sad books — because this is so much more than a sad book! There are sad parts, but it’s a book about life. We all die at some point. What happens when we go?

AAAANNNNNDDDD some spoiler-free quotes from the oh-so-quoteable John Greeny-ness:

“I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is inprobably biased toward the consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it-or my observation of it-is temporary?” 

“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.”

…and that’s all the non-spoiling quotes I could find. READ THE BOOK!


Tara is a PhD student studying education. Her dissertation will be on digital book communities as public pedagogy (ask her about it!), though she often takes a break from all of that to read books about oppressive governments and sassy teenagers. In a former life, she was a middle school teacher and middle school librarian. In her future life, she's a professor of YA lit. In her free time, she drinks a lot of coffee while planning her next grand adventure (there's always something).

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16 responses to “The Fault In Our Stars (FINALLY)

  1. this is one I’ve avoided. I’m not sure I’m ready for those particular buttons to be pushed…I can’t imagine sitting down to write this one either, the amt of time you’d spend in their world. eek.

  2. That final non-spoiling quote is my favorite. How many have I gotta outlast? Excellent review and very honest, as always, Miss Anderson. We depend upon your honesty, we surely do!

  3. She BANGS!

    I just finished this book last night. I loved it . I agree – I don’t care that teenagers don’t actually talk like that, I found it quite entertaining and refreshing.

  4. Three things to say:
    1) I reviewed this on my blog as well. Though I’m filled with a shame at my writing after reading this. 2) I really, really, loved the book but this review is wonderfully honest and I like that. 3) I most certainly think I speak with such wit and eloquence as Hazel and Augustus! (I don’t.) Like the person above me I found the dialogue “entertaining and refreshing.”

  5. Just finished this novel and came back to read your review, since you were the reason it was on my radar in the first place. You make a good point about how relatable the novel is, I definitely related to it through the lens of having lost a very dear guy friend right around Hazel’s age (though in a much more sudden way).

  6. As much as i admire John Green for his vlogs my experience with this novel was quite the opposite of what i expected. For me this would what you will call a grade c book

  7. Isabelle

    It’s interesting that you enjoyed Paper Towns more than the Fault in Our Stars (read in a more recent post). I was the opposite. For me, the only saving grace of Paper Towns was its secondary characters (Ben, Lacey, and Radar grew on me and their characters developed). Q was too self-absorbed and pretentious, the plot didn’t take off very far, and Margo fell flat in the end.

    [VAGUE SPOILERS AHEAD] I didn’t want Margo to accurately guess why Q came to find her. And I didn’t want her to stop acting like a ***** towards him. That might sound weird, but she ended up seeming more like Lacey than a character of her own. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s how I feel. I have no idea why Green put out her fire so quickly.

    The thing with John Green… It’s just, sometimes it seems like he’s more focused on giving a lesson or writing cleverly (which you mentioned) than actually sharing something real. That’s why the Fault in Our Stars worked better than his previous books, to me. It had more of that missing heart along with a message and cleverness-for-cleverness sake. A win-win-win.

    Still, I love that you think the opposite (that the message behind TFiOS overshadows the plot and that his previous works were better). It widens my perspective that much more.

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