Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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The Fault in Our Stars
John Green
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication date: January 10th 2012
by Dutton Books

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind

-This novel was listened to via audiobook-

My first John Green book y’all! It was about time I checked out what everyone was going on about with this author. I’ve, of course, heard of many of his novels before and have almost all of them on my to-read list, but since this is his most recent one I figured I’d give it a go. (Also, I was just perusing Goodreads for this book and came upon the author’s page; I always pictured John Green as an old man–because his books seem to have been around for ever–and he is… well he is not old! *mind blown* )

Where was I? Aside from under my rock, I mean. I was hesitant to read The Fault In Our Stars for two reasons. One being the rave reviews; a book getting so much hype is usually a bad sign for me where I tend to be the black sheep. And two, books that deal with cancer, or any disease for that matter, often have me paranoid and checking myself for lumps, thus I need time to mentally prepare myself for them, and to put my doctor on speed dial. For those suffering the same hypochondria have nothing to fear, however, as this is much more about the characters, and less about the cancer itself. I did not request an MRI once! As for the hype, I do think it’s the reason that this was a 4 for me and not a 5. My expectations were through the roof for this novel, so while it was definitely good enough to meet them, it wasn’t able to blow my mind. No doubt in my mind that John Green is a fantastic writer. He has a way with words that pulls every single string of your heart into these characters’ lives, even though you know the unstoppable is coming. BUT, that is just the thing, though, I felt like the book was performing to make me cry. Instead of the emotions coming naturally to a story, I felt they were manipulated into it. It reminded me of most Nicholas Sparks or Jodi Picoult books in that sense. Emotional manipulation is nothing new and it’s not necessarily bad, I have simply had my fill of them in the past and thus have become a little immune–or expectant? Therefore, even though I did truly enjoy this as it’s clearly a remarkable novel, I found it more or less the same as other cancer books/movies I’ve come upon. I have read and watched quite a few; If I was new to this emotional formula, I’m sure this book would have swept me into oblivion like the majority of its readers.

Hazel has been living with cancer for a long time, and when she meets Augustus, another cancer kid, things get just a little more happy for her. If you’re as big a character reader as I, let me tell you that character development in this novel is superb. I loved watching these people grow and connect to each other. Developing the main characters don’t take away from the supporting roles either which are just as present and well rounded. This includes the parents which are supportive but realistic in their reactions. I loved that a book with such a dire subject had so many quirky and humorous moments, as well. I got quite a few laughs from the often witty dialogue. The characters also speak very eloquently. While some have mentioned it makes them sound a little unrealistic, I thought it was actually a way to show how something life changing like a cancer diagnosis can mature someone. These kids live their lives like there’s no tomorrow, every single day, because they know that one day soon that will be the truth. This grows people up, this living in fast forward. Hazel was already schooled beyond her years and is doing college courses at 16. It’s true that Green might have gone a little overboard in their speech and they surely do not sound like real teenagers, but I have an inkling this was intentional. Plus I actually found the book even more captivating by how intelligent it all was. The plot, the dialogue, the literary references, the grandiose metaphors, the romance; it makes the book elegant; refined.

I’m sure you have read countless reviews on this novel so I doubt anything I say here will be anything new to add to the slew of opinions. You’ve all been told already that John Green is immensely talented and with this book he pulls out all the stops on your emotions, and that by reading it you’re sure to read something truly worthy of your time. It’s a piece of YA literary art that is deserving of its awards!

4 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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45 Responses to “Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green”

  1. Amy

    Man, I feel like I am the only person who hasn’t read this book. I’m not really sure why actually. I have been wanting to read it, and I am almost positive I will love it. I think I am just waiting for the right time lol!! Anyways, great review babe!!

  2. Brittany @ The Book Addicts Guide

    So happy to read your thoughts on this – Those two things (written TO make you cry & the characters speaking very maturely) actually turned me off a lot. I felt like the book wasn’t as genuine as it could have been and some of it just felt too forced for me 🙁 This was my first John Green book too so there was a TON of hype about it so I was going into it expecting to be blown away (which I think added to my disappointment). I always take a tiny sliver of comfort seeing someone else who didn’t give it a five star review. (Not like I want people to dislike it, but you know what I mean – I’m just trying to convince myself I’m not crazy haha)

  3. Megan K.

    Amy isn’t the only one who hasn’t read the book yet! *blushes* I keep seeing all these rave reviews for it, which makes me want to buy the book so bad, but I have no idea why I haven’t gotten around to getting it yet. I always love a good emotional novel, but sorry to hear that the emotions in this one seemed… “manipulated,” and didn’t really stand out from other realistic fiction books. I heard that the movie’s in production, too. Are you looking forward to it? Shailene Woodley will be playing Hazel, but not many people are happy about that. I guess I’ll just have to read the book to see what they mean, huh?

    Wonderful review as always, muffin!

  4. bookittyblog

    Great review Giselle! I was hesitant at first to read this book because of the 5 star reviews but I don’t regret it. I loved it. I also think the characters were amazing.

    P.S. You are hilarious!! I get scared too when I read books like this one.

  5. Savannah Bookswithbite

    Dude! I cried soo hard reading this book. The letter at the end undid me. And even after the book was done, I still cried just thinking about it. So excited for the movie. I hope it does the book justice

  6. Ali Ginger-Read

    I’m still just terrified to read this book. I hate when books turn me into a blubbering mess. I prefer to pretend I have a cold black heart. 😉 I do, however, love a good character driven read and this sounds exactly that. I’m sure I’ll get to it eventually but I still need to work myself up to it.

  7. Molli

    Agreed, it could have made Hazel and Augustus cheesy, but I feel like JG just did a beautiful job of showing their growth, and how living with cancer had matured them. I’m glad you pointed that out, and glad that overall, you liked this one, Giselle! YAY! (Also I didn’t realize he was as young as he is, either. Have you watched his vlogs? He cracks me up.)

  8. Michelle

    Yay you finally read it!!! I loved how smart this book was (even though the characters did talk a little Dawson’s Creekish)… the only thing I didn’t like was how it made me stay up all night contemplating the meaning of life. I was all thinking about how I’m going to die some day and eventually everyone who ever knew me will be dead and it will be like I never existed. DEPRESSING!!! But amazingly depressing 🙂 Great review, I’m glad you were honest about how you felt about it.

  9. Danny

    Hehe.. so I really thought I’d be the only one not having read this book…:))))
    I’m so happy you loved it too, everyone loved this book so freaking much that I really need to read it!

  10. Shooting Stars Mag

    Yay for finally diving into the John Green fandom. This is a nice place to start. I read his first book, Looking for Alaska, first, and that’s another amazing one. I liked that the book dealt with darker issues…but in a sometimes humorous way. It adds light to the dark and that’s always important, in books and life.

    -Lauren

  11. Michelle

    Oh yeah and I forgot to ask you about the movie… I hope the movie lives up to the book, what do you think about Shailene Woodley (the girl from Secret Life) playing Hazel? I’m not really feeling that casting decision 🙁

  12. Candace

    John Green’s characters are usually super eloquent and smart, and while that’s not always realistic I always find myself REALLY loving them. I read this book like immediately after release and before the reviews were everywhere and my mind was blown. I pretty much thought it was perfect.

  13. Soma Rostam

    Wow, Giselle!
    It has been so long that you have posted a review! I missed your reviews
    I have not read anything by John Green but I love David Levithan, and he always recommends his friend, John Green, to his readers. So I might give his books a try. I think that I will start with Looking For Alaska!
    GREAT review, as always
    Your reader,
    Soma
    http://insomnia-of-books.blogspot.com/

  14. Rachel @ Unforgettable Books

    I absolutely enjoyed your introduction to this review! Green is a pretty young; i never imagined him as old though.
    I’m glad you enjoyed this book, the mature language is definitely enjoyable. Fantastic review Giselle!

  15. Camille Picott

    Sounds like a good read! Nice to hear the heavy subject matter was balanced with some humor and great characters. I totally understand how you feel going into a book that has been adored and hyped by the masses — it’s sometimes so hard for those stories to live up to the expectations.

  16. Kelley (Another Novel Read)

    I have yet to read anything by John Green, but this one IS on my list. If have a feeling that my experience will be pretty similar to yours (regarding the hype and emotional manipulation). It does still sound like its very much worth reading, so I know I need to pick it up one of these days. Excellent review, as usual. 🙂

  17. Book Flame

    I’ve had this one sitting on my shelf for months and I want to read it so bad but I guess i’m a little scared to pick it up because of the reasons you stated but also because of all the “crying” that people keep saying they did when reading this … oh well I know i’m going to eventually sit down and commit to reading it. Great review!

  18. kimbacaffeinate

    I feel like the last person alive who hasn’t read or listened to Green. I am so glad you enjoyed this, and his writing style sounds wonderful. I need to take the plunge soon. Awesome review Giselle!

  19. Amanda

    Like you, I’m a bit wary of books that are super hyped-up. What I’ve been doing about it is trying to wait months after the release so that some reviews I’ve read may start to fade from my memory, or at least to the point where I don’t feel constantly bombarded with praise for this book. I’ve read two of John Green’s books now and really disliked the first one (An Abundance of Katherines) but really enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars. Hmm that’s an interesting point about the readers being emotionally manipulated. I didn’t think that way myself, but I can see why you may think that. I’m glad your first experience with Green was a mainly positive one, though, Giselle!

  20. Megan R

    I can’t believe I still haven’t read a John Green book! I keep reading such great reviews and can’t wait to find the time to fit some in!

  21. Nazish Reads

    The only John Green book that I read so far is Paper Towns, which was last year, I really need to read this one and his other ones, they’ve been on my tbr list for a long while.

    You said, “Also, I was just perusing Goodreads for this book and came upon the author’s page; I always pictured John Green as an old man–because his books seem to have been around for ever–and he is… well he is not old!” so I’m wondering, have you ever seen or heard of the Vlogbrothers on youtube? I’ve been watching new videos from that channel for over two years. John and his brother are really funny and I learned many things that I probably never would have if I never watched those videos. You should check it out.

    Anyways, great review.

    -Nazish @ Nazish Reads

  22. Jennifer Bielman

    LOL, while I was reading your review I was like, “this books sounds so refined” and then you said it. Hehe. I like books like that sometimes but not all the time. However, I hate books that try to make me cry. I hate sad books. I know people love this one but it’s so not for me. Great review though.

  23. Kelsey@TheLostBookReports

    yay! glad you enjoyed your first John Green book! I think TFIOS was my first too! I totally enjoyed it and last year I listened to him speak about his inspiration for the book at the LA Times Festival Books, it was both sad and sweet. I would highly recommend reading Paper Towns next.

    Also, isn’t funny how we imagine authors in our head?!

  24. Alison Can Read

    I loved this book but I know what you mean about the hype. When I finished it, I liked it but didn’t think it was mind-blowing. But then it grew on me and became more meaningful as the days passed.

  25. Cindy

    I’m sorry you felt that this one was sort of trying to make you cry. I read this last week and I loved it. I’ve only read one other about teens with cancer, and it was different than this one. I am glad you enjoyed it, overall. It was also my first John Green book, and I agree with you, I totally imagined him to look different! Great review 🙂

  26. Alexa Y.

    I absolutely adored this book. John Green did such a phenomenal job writing it, and I think the writing is the strongest part of it. He truly brings the characters to life AND writes a compelling story, so that’s a plus. I too did not cry when I read this; instead, I found myself laughing more than I was sad and emotional. It’s truly a testament to how different books bring out different reactions from people.

  27. Melanie

    I listened to this as an audiobook as well, personally, I think it was a better experience as I could cry without completely stopping. I adore this book to pieces, isn’t the letter at the end just infuriatingly-mind blowing-emotionally ruined? GAWD, I could stop crying for a good hour after that.

    The movie-I can tell is going to piss me off. Shailene is Hazel Grace. No. I can’t even- *fingers crossed its going to be awesome*

  28. Book Whales

    This book is special to me. I’ve read other John Green’s book and this is my favorite among the bunch. Touching and memorable. Great review, Giselle.

    -Dannielle

  29. Micheline D

    As much as I’m in a prolonged contemporary slump, I was still really anxious to read your thoughts on this one. Even though it wasn’t a 5-star review, the fact that you enjoyed this one cemented my desire to check it out…when the mood strikes me. It could be awhile I admit, >.< but I'll be reading it some day for sure! Brilliant review doll.

  30. Sara @ Forever 17 Books

    This book popped my John Green cherry too! I really appreciated the humor and wit he threw into this heavy novel, without which I might not have been able to get through it. I appreciate your thoughts on emotional manipulation. I never looked at it that way but I can see what you’re saying. Great review Giselle!

  31. Lyn Kaye

    I was honestly shocked that I liked this book. Yes, emotional manipulation is ever-present in this book, but I did enjoy the story. Great review!

  32. Lauren

    I’m so happy you read this book and loved it, though I do understand what you mean. I’m always wary of that emotional manipulation muscle ticking in any book that deals with death or disease at its center. Even a character driven book like this. It’s also tough for a book with such hype to ever live up to expectations. I did enjoy it greatly, though I’m wary about the movie version turning into something even more manipulative. Excellent review!