Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

11870085As seen in my previous post, I have a massive backlog of books waiting to be reviewedmost of them much more recent than John Green’s bestseller.  I had been avoiding The Fault in Our Stars for some reason, even though my fingers lovingly grazed the cover every time I saw it in the store.  I think I just felt like I wasn’t ready for the heartbreak.

Spoiler: I wasn’t. But it didn’t matter.

Then, when I heard it was being made into a movie (possibly starring Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley), I thought I could just leave it until closer to the time the film came out so it was fresh in my mind.

But then, being as behind the times as I am, I was introduced to the greatness that is The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and from there, I found this gem. I loved the sampling and knew I had to read it at once. I could kick myself for having waited so long in the first place.


I downloaded the audiobook onto my phone and speed-read (speed-listened?) to the story all day yesterday and this morning while working on some otherwise boring SMGL coding at work.  On Monday, I laughed out loud multiple times, leading my cubicle mates to probably believe I wasn’t working.  This morning, I sat in my corner cubicle, back to everyone, tears streaming down my cheeks and trying not to sob, all the while repeatedly typing <para></para><para></para> and so on.

I Facebooked my best friend, who is the sole person on my so-called book club, the following:

If you can handle a story that makes you cry, really cry, like where it aches deep inside…
But with writing that makes you smile and makes you laugh, really laugh, like snorting-out-loud laughs out of nowhere, when any other author would have you curling up in the fetal position and weeping until the world just ends so you don’t have to feel so much pain…
But with this author and this book, even though your heart hurts, everything is beautiful and completely, totally worth it…
You NEED to read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
Seriously, read it. Now!

Anyway, for those who don’t know, here are the details.

The Author

John Green is a New York Times bestselling author who has received numerous awards, including both the Printz Medal and a Printz Honor. John is also the cocreator (with his brother, Hank) of the popular video blog Brotherhood 2.0, which has been watched more than 30 million times by Nerdfighter fans all over the globe. John Green lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Book Jacket Blurb

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

My Review

John Green’s writing is…

This book is…

Well, I don’t really even have words for it. There are so many things I want to say and so many feelings bursting in my chest, and yet I have no words.  There are so many reviews out there that express my thoughts better than I ever could, so please bear with me.

The Good

This is not a cancer book.  It is the story of two people who have cancer, but it is not a book about two kids who have Cancer with a capital “C”.  Okay, that’s confusing. Let me try again.  It’s about the people (Hazel and Augustus and Isaac, and, to an extent, everyone else in the “Literal Heart of Jesus”) and who they are and how they see the world and life and death and themselves and each other. It’s not just about the circumstances they are living in.

Author John Green doesn’t pity the characters or pussyfoot around the hard topics, of which there are many (dying, afterlife, sex, cancer, etc).  He isn’t afraid to make it hurt, and he isn’t afraid to be a touch insensitive, at least to the sensitivities of those who so often cringe when topics and people are treated with anything other than kid gloves.  I think that was what I loved best about Hazel and Augustus—they said what they thought in the way that best suited them.  It wasn’t that they didn’t have a filter; it was simply that they said things as they felt them. Life’s too short to censure.  It was like Hazel repeatedly argued; they weren’t braver or stronger just because they were “cancer kids”, they simply were living regardless of the circumstances.

I was completely in awe of John’s craft and his unbelievably strong-yet-fiercely-real characters. The way Augustus and Hazel consider their identities and their mortality and the purpose of existence and love was so heartfelt and fresh and unlike anything I’d ever heard before. So many times, I had to stop, completely in awe at the wonder of it; at the knowledge that somewhere out there, someone — John Green — is thinking these profound ideas without the prompting or guiding hand of an author or a tell-them-like-it-is narrator.

The Bad

Did I mention the open weeping in my office?  Really, I couldn’t find a flaw in this book if I tried.  I can’t even wish Augustus and Hazel and Isaac health because it would destroy the greatness of this work and diminish the impact it had on me and countless other readers.

The Bold and the Beautiful

I listened to the audiobook of The Fault in Our Stars, so I didn’t get to highlight all of my favorite moments, but here are some I managed to jot down:

“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” 

“Thank you for explaining that my eye cancer isn’t going to make me deaf. I feel so fortunate that an intellectual giant like yourself would deign to operate on me.”

“It’s hard as hell to hold on to your dignity when the risen sun is too bright in your losing eyes.”

“What a slut time is. She screws everybody.”

“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.”

The Grade

5.0 / 5.0

I highly recommend that if you have not yet read The Fault in Our Stars, you do so at once. Better yet, listen to the audiobook.  I typically read quickly to discover what happens and listening to the book really made me focus in on the words themselves, and the experience was one of the best literary moments of my life. No exaggeration.

You can buy The Fault in Our Stars on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, or your local indie bookstore, or download the audiobook from Audible.com.

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