I had added this to my wish list after it being recommended to me by fellow blogger Taylor Jordan (you should check out her page if you haven’t already!). Two weeks ago I finally made the long trek to the bookshop and set out on fulfilling my book-blogging destiny 🙂 The book took me a total of 4 nights to read. At 313 pages it’s the type of book that I would have easily read in one go if I was on holidays. The opening paragraph really sets the tone for the writing style and gives us our first introduction to the main character ‘Hazel’;
‘Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided 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’
Hazel Grace Lancaster is battling terminal lung cancer. She lives with her parents who devote pretty much all of their time and energy to her and she has no other siblings. Worried about her reclusive state, Hazel’s mother encourages her to get out of the house and ‘live life’. She starts attending a weekly Support Group where she meets the other main character of the book, Augustus Waters.
Being honest (as I always try to be), as soon as Augustus came into the storyline I started to lose interest rapidly. It seemed the book was heading down the dreaded path of mindless, teenage, romance drivel.
A tall, handsome stranger who just appears at the group meeting and is instantly besotted with Hazel: his character just didn’t fit in with the blunt and rather harsh depiction of life that Hazel had been narrating up to this point. The book was in danger of crossing over to ‘twilight’ territory. Thankfully I read on and decided to give this Augustus guy a chance. If you happen to hit the same little roadblock I assure you to read on, after a couple of pages I was completely won over by the way the 2 characters began to react and bounce off each. A few chapters in I was completely hooked and cannot say much more about the storyline itself without giving too much away.
One of the best things about this book was its clever use of humor and how it managed to diffuse the heaviness of the subject of cancer. It also made it easy for me to warm to the characters, in particular Hazel as you can’t help but admire her outlook on the situation;
‘…the diagnosis came three months after I got my first period. Like: Congratulations! You’re a woman. Now die.’
Both characters are highly intelligent and witty and share a love of literature. The author uses these qualities to allow himself to write in a poetic and almost exaggerated style which otherwise might have come off as a bit pretentious. He also uses this characteristic to weave some really nice poetry into the story. My favorite was his use of ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock‘ by T.S.Eliot:
'The love song of J.Alfred Prufrock' by T.S. Eliot (1915)
Another really interesting feature of ‘The fault in our stars‘ was that it contained another book within it. Hazel’s favorite book is ‘An Imperial Affliction’ by Peter Van Houten. She has reread it countless times and much of the storyline is about her getting in touch with the author in order to try find out what happens to the characters after the book abruptly ends in the middle of a sentence. There are numerous referrals to quotes from this book which is in fact fictional and does not exist in real life. So really you can say that John Green has written 2 books in one! (and both are very good).
The title of the book comes from Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar‘;
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings. (1.2.135)
Peter Van Houten (the author of Hazel’s favorite book) writes that never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he claimed that human’s are responsible for their mistakes and that the stars play no part in our destiny. Van Houten disputes this saying that there is ‘no shortage of fault to be found amid our stars’, hence the title of the book.
Realizing that this book review is wayyyy too long already I will summarize by saying overall it is an extremely enjoyable book and I would certainly recommend it. While it is suitable for most readers, mid to late teenagers (in particular females) would enjoy it the most I think. The author is a pretty interesting guy in his own right and I was pleased to discover he is an avid user of social media. He has over 1.1 million followers on twitter (@realjohngreen) and even has his own youtube channel which is definitely worth a look!