Monday, 2 July 2012

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Author: John Green
Publication date: January 10, 2012
Publisher: Dutton Books
Pages: 318
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Bought it

Book Description from Goodreads:
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, 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 is my first John Green book that I’ve read, and to be honest I’d never even heard of John Green before my archaeology professor suggested watching his Crash Course: World History videos (by the way I’ve learned more watching his 12 minutes videos than a whole semester in class). In his videos, he was hilarious, engaging and informative, so I figured I’d give him a try. The verdict: John Green is amazing!!!

Now, I don’t usually read that much contemporary - I like to relish in a fictional world because reality is a harsh mistress. So I was a bit surprised to find myself thoroughly engrossed with young lives and how cancer can put a deadline on your life and making you want to live it all that more fiercely.

The cover is so unassuming and you’d never guess what the story was behind such a simple cover - so it’s definitely a “don’t judge a book by its cover” kind of book. But I love the bright colors and the more personal hand written like font on the cover.

Green was fairly successful in creating a female character that was believable (she laments at her looks), but also a character that is distinct in who she is due to her experiences. When we first meet Hazel, we’re given a run down of her cancer history, and how a miracle drug has extended her life for the moment. Given all that she’s been through, it’s difficult to lead a stereotypical 16 year old life - if anything she’s accelerated her life to maximize the time she has left by finishing highschool early, and even attending college. As a result she’s a very mature young woman, with an extensive vocabulary that might end up throwing off some readers - but I found it extremely refreshing to have such a developed voice narrating. Now that’s not to say she doesn’t show some younger more teenage qualities, she still gushes with friends, watches frivolous tv shows and longs for love. But it all balances out to make her an amazing character with depth, witty sarcasm and the ability to take all things in stride.

Augustus Waters is a cancer survivor, and joins the group in support for Hazel and his’ mutual friend Isaac. He’s healthy and shows no signs of former sickness, and like Hazel I was unsure as to his motives at first. But when he opens his mouth he proves that he’s insanely intelligent and full of philosophical meanderings that can definitely keep up with Hazel. The dialogue, banter and conversations between Augustus and Hazel are at times the funniest and most beautiful moments in the book.

Although Hazel is hesitant at first, for good reason, they eventually come to a mutual understanding and as their relationship evolves they end up forever bound together by the shared love for a certain book written by a surly author. So begins an epic quest to answer their questions about the book, that takes them down a road that will completely change both of their lives.

The cast of secondary characters were perfect in their supplement to the story. I especially loved Isaac, and how his friendship with both Hazel and Augustus ended up playing such a monumental role. Hazel’s parents were also incredible characters to watch because they have had to deal with all the near misses she’s gone through and how they live in the now, and what the possibilities are in the future. The story doesn’t just focus on Hazel, but also all the people that she’s affected in her life by being this amazing person.

Green’s writing style perfectly blends the seriousness of the situation with some meaning of life pondering, and banter to balance the morbidity, along with really sweet romance and friendship. Now, a fair warning - before you start this book get a box of Kleenex, you’ll likely need it. That’s not to say that this book is strictly sad (I mean it is a cancer subjected book, and Hazel is terminally ill), but I cried because I laughed so hard, and then I cried because moments between Hazel and Augustus were just so exquisitely beautiful that I had no words. So I probably looked insane reading this book because one moment I was laughing hysterically, and then the next I was streaming tears, but in the end it was all worth it because where this book took me as I followed their journey, and the relationship between Augustus and Hazel is awe inspiring and gives the brightest glimmer of hope just when you think there is none.

This definitely isn’t a book to be restricted to just young adults. I bought copies for lots of people I knew because it just needed to be shared, and I didn’t want to part with my own personal copy and they ended up giving their copies to relatives to read because it has such a profound effect on them after they read it. That’s how I feel about this book - that it’s so awesome I had to share it with everyone! So everyone go read it if you haven’t already! 

Rating: 5/5 Steaming HOT cups of tea!
I can't express how much I love this book, and I might just have to look into his other books too.

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