Title: The Fault In Our Stars
Author: John Green
Published: January 10th 2012
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction
First Line: “Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided that 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.”
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.
One of John Green’s more recent contemporary stories, The Fault In Our Stars, is an incredibly powerful and thoughtful novel following the conceptual trace of life, loss, the meaning behind being alive and the legacy of death. The protagonist, Hazel, is a sixteen-year-old girl who has, from the start, been written down as a terminal cancer patient and has been bought only a sliver of extra relief due to a miracle drug that would help prolong the years of her already-seemingly-tragic life. She views the world with a blunt honesty and truthfulness, believing nothing more will come to her life – that is, until she meets Augustus Waters, another cancer kid from a mutual support group. The story follows the blossoming of their philosophical, thought-provoking and inspiring relationship while they deal with the inevitability of oblivion, fate and death.
The storyline focuses almost entirely on the relationship between Hazel and Augustus, detailing their intense and deep-rooted theories and ideas on the whole mystery of life. Hazel is a strong and incredibly realistic female protagonist with a rather bleak outlook on life at first – she accepts that she will not live the same life as many others around her yet still yearns for it. She is smart, witty and her voice is both intellectual and stimulating, which is also another reason which draws Augustus’ attention to her.
Augustus is very similar to Hazel in the philosophically-inclined thoughts sense. A living and breathing metaphor in himself, he questions the world around him constantly yet remains optimistic always, even though he accepts the probable death of all his fellow cancer patients. He helps Hazel grow as both a woman and a character and their relationship is both intense and heart-breaking.
Their struggle with coming to terms with cancer leads them to ask all the questions that many adolescents often find themselves asking – Who am I? Why am I here? What is there after death? What will I leave behind, what will become of the human kind once we’re all gone?
Green’s writing was, as usual, concise yet elegantly poetic, with the ability to make you gasp at the beauty of sentence or twist of a word. His imagination never fails us readers with the constant appearance of breathtaking metaphors often accompanied by some deep thought-provoking underlying connection to reality – such as with Augustus and his cigarettes that he puts in his mouth yet never lights;
“It’s a metaphor, see: you put the killing thing right between your teeth but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.”
While I certainly did enjoy this read, it did have its flaws. For quite significant portions of the novel some of the dialogue and description was quite pretentious, especially regarding Augustus’ character. His lines were almost crossing the brink of ridiculousness – however, I understand that pretentiousness was actually acknowledged as one of his personality faults, so to some extent this was expected. And while Hazel was respectfully mature for her age given her situation and her experiences with being forced to confront the hardships of life earlier than regular teenagers, some of her thoughts and lines weren’t always realistic in what a teenager would say. In many of these instances Green’s own personal voice leaked through, his voice of which I’m quite familiar with due to a regular subscription to his mini YouTube empire (shh…!).
The story is swamped with tears and heartbreak issued from loss and death, but never fails to baffle readers with beautiful writing and deep meanings. The emotional intimacy of the novel takes your breath away and leaves you questioning everything about being alive – the purpose, the point and the proceeding. John Green has yet again stunned the literacy community with this tragically reflective story and it is truly a worthy achievement by itself.