Angela Amman

The Fault In Our Stars – A Review

The Fault in Our Stars review
The book sat on my desk longer than many do. I knew I wanted to read and review The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, but I was a little nervous about falling into the story.

To put it very simply, The Fault in Our Stars is a book about teenagers with cancer, teenager dying of cancer, and I’ve written before about how I have a hard time with stories where bad things happen to kids now that I have my own children. And after reading about and hearing about John Green’s book, I knew it was going to be well-written and therefore would have the ability to really wrench apart my heart.

Once I picked it up, the library’s copy broken a bit at the binding, it was difficult for me to put down the book. Like Hazel says: “There was never enough air in the world, but the shortage was particularly acute in the moment.”

And part of the reason The Fault in Our Stars is so compelling is that calling it a book about teenagers living with cancer is an understatement. Hazel and Augustus’s story isn’t about their respective bouts with cancer (thyroid metastasized in the lungs and osteosarcoma, respectively). John Green’s story is really about the way we live and the way we love.

Green’s novel is not a story about cancer, but it’s also not a story that transcends cancer, at least not in a simple way. Cancer is so much a part of both Hazel and Gus and their lives that it’s impossible to separate the two. At one point they talk about how cancer itself isn’t the enemy, that cancer is just another part of themselves struggling for life.

Reading young adult fiction, especially great YA fiction, is like peeking into the world of adolescence. Green writes his characters and their worlds with absolute realism, or what I assume must be realism now that I’m past the point of my own teen years. He captures the nuances of their speech and their ability to be both self-absorbed and utterly concerned with things outside of themselves at the same time.

Much of The Fault in Our Stars centers on Hazel’s quest to find out what happens to characters in her favorite book — the fictional An Imperial Affliction — after it ends abruptly. The book brings Hazel and Augustus together and gives them both a shared mission and a shared sense of frustration.

I loved both characters, especially the way their shared and differing opinions wove together with their similar senses of humor to find a way to navigate the perks and downfalls of finding love in the midst of cancer. Perk? Champagne before you’re 21 and funded international travel. Downfall? Well the ever-present oxygen tank doesn’t allow for much spontaneity. Their discussions about what it means to live an extraordinary life took my breath away and made me sorry I didn’t read the book sooner.

The Fault in Our Stars isn’t a book about cancer that leaves you with a neatly packaged sense of hope about the universe. But it did leave me with a sense of hope about what we can all find in ourselves, regardless of what might be found in our stars.

What do you think makes an extraordinary life?

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Sharon December 3, 2012, 3:36 am

sounds like a good read. It is like Erma Bombeck’s book about children’s cancer. The kids were more interested in everyday things and being like everyone else, the cancer was just there. It certainly isn’t as deep as the one you read but showed the resilience of kids who just want to be kids.

Angela December 5, 2012, 6:47 pm

Yes 🙂 You would like this, I think.

Kristen December 3, 2012, 5:52 am

Now that I know that you’ve read it, I’m willing to go for it too. You and I feel the same way about books/movies with children since we’ve become parents. I trust your judgement on books but I trust your heart even more. This is now going on my Amazon wish list. You have helped me with my Christmas list more than you know. 🙂

Angela December 5, 2012, 6:47 pm

Thanks Kristen. I promise, though parts of it are heart-wrenching, you won’t be sorry you read it.

Lady Jennie December 3, 2012, 11:27 am

Oh dear, just thinking about that book. I understand your reticence, but you are right to plunge in. It sounds beautiful.

Angela December 5, 2012, 6:46 pm

I am so glad I read it. And I am so glad that YA authors tackle those tough topics, especially authors who do it with the grace and ability of John Green.

Missy | The Literal Mom December 4, 2012, 11:24 am

Sounds good. It reminds me of Night Road, that I just read where a teenager died too. So heartwrenching.

Angela December 5, 2012, 6:45 pm

I don’t know that one! I will go add to my Goodreads list 🙂

Tanya @ Moms Small Victories December 4, 2012, 4:12 pm

Ive been wanting to read this book and know what you mean about not wanting to read about bad things happening to kids now that you’re a parent. I went through the same thing and why I am probably the only person who hasn’t read The Hunger Games. I got to the page where parents wondered if their kids were coming home from dinner (less than 10 pages in) and I could not continue. I feel the same about this book but I think I should give it a try if not to learn something about how we should always have hope and appreciate the small things in life.

I write book reviews as well so hope you will stop by my blog and I am visiting from SITS. You might have me convinced to give Hunger Games another try. :). Good luck with winning one of the wonderful SITS giveaways!

Angela December 5, 2012, 6:45 pm

I read The Hunger Games. It is worth the read!

Kimberly December 4, 2012, 9:46 pm

Sounds beautiful and heartwrenching. I’m always hesitant about things that happen to children/teens, but I think I’d like to read this.

Angela December 5, 2012, 6:42 pm

You’ll like it. Death isn’t the focus, living is, if that makes sense.