52 Books: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I’ve read all of John Green’s books and even though I’ve enjoyed them, I wouldn’t call myself a fan. I certainly wasn’t planning to buy The Fault in Our Stars as soon as it came out, but someone whose opinion I respect recommended it HIGHLY to me and so I pre-ordered it on the Kindle and started reading as soon as it downloaded.

I have a few problems with John Green’s books, a couple of which are down to him and one of which is not. The one that’s not his fault is that I think he’s overrated because he’s a man. That’s not to say I don’t think he’s a wonderful writer, because I do, but it’s the age-old issue that a man writing about love is universal and important, while a woman writing about love is domestic and frivolous. And that gets my back up. (See also: One Day – if it had been written by a woman, it would totally have been dismissed as chick lit.)

The issues I have that are down to him is that his books have previously been quite samey: there’s a dorky boy, an apparently unobtainable girl – generally a Manic Pixie Dream Girl – and a wisecracking best friend. There’s probably also a roadtrip. And the teens don’t talk like teens. At all. Generally at least one, if not all, of them is rather pretentious. The fact that even the title of this latest book is pretentious did not bode well…

I deliberately read nothing about the plot of the book before buying it and I’m glad because I think if I had I probably would have avoided it. This is the Amazon summary:

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.

It sounds like a total downer, yes? But it’s really not, honestly. One of the things I thought Green did brilliantly in this book was follow up some of the saddest moments with some of the funniest. More than once I literally found myself laughing through my tears. I really loved Hazel and Augustus and their friend Isaac, even though they don’t sound like any teens I’ve ever heard (but then I’ve never watched Dawson’s Creek). Yes, they’re pretentious, but in this book, unlike, say, Paper Towns, there’s a reason for them to be pretentious (a book that Hazel adores and passes on to Augustus) and so I was happy to let it slide.Mainly I just really loved it. I read it in a day and when I got to the end, started tweeting people I knew were reading it with “Have you finished yet? Have you? Did you love it? Did you?”

So, yes, it’s about cancer. Yes, it’s incredibly sad. But it’s also sweet and funny and it really made me want to go to Amsterdam. It’s my favourite John Green book by quite a long way.


8 thoughts on “52 Books: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

  1. youve never watched Dawson’s Creek!! what?!?! Where were you in the 90’s?! lol
    I havent ever read a John Green book, I want to but I keep hearing about his characters never sounding like real teens and it puts me off. I think I might start with this one if I do check him out though because I keeping hearing that its his best yet!

  2. I haven’t read anything by John Green, am planning to, but teens that don’t sound like teens really put me off, so now I’m anticipating a similar situation as with ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ where most readers seem to think it’s wonderful but I’m like ‘What? Have you never read any other YA?’. I do like a little pretentiousness, though, as long as it’s moderated by a big dose of fun and realism, so I guess I’ll have to make sure I try it and see.

    I refused to watch Dawson’s Creek even when I was a teen because I thought the dialogue was ridiculously unnatural, overwrought and pretentious. I have never deigned to try again. Plenty of people hate the dialogue in Gilmore Girls and/or Buffy though, and I love both.

  3. I just finished this thanks to Caoimhe and I’m thinking of doing a little blog post. I thought you said you didn’t like it and I came back to check, I must have only read half the post 🙂 (Totally agree with the men and women writing about love.) I really did like it… I was worried I’d grown out of YA totally. Then again, his teens don’t sound like teens. (hehe) I didn’t notice this myself, but I get what you mean !

  4. I’ve just read this at Anna’s insistence. She loves all of John Green’s books. Will Grayson Will Grayson is her favourite.

    This in many ways is a very grim book for anyone to read but as a parent I found it painful. It certainly doesn’t portray death as something that happens cleanly and peacefully and painlessly. As you say, though, the characters are likeable and the dynamic between them is wonderful. The gallows humour is side splittingly funny at times.

    Some of it was completely unbelievable though – surely to goodness the organisation would have checked that author out and they wouldn’t have got within a million miles of him, especially unchaperoned.

    He was a total nightmare.

    And did you not feel a bit sorry for the poor guy who ran the support group. He did his best, but the kids all just took the mickey out of him:-).

    But, as a love story, as a portrayal of the reality of cancer and how it affects families and friends, as well as the person who has it and as a story of friendship it was fantastic.

    Oh, and the incident with the eggs was great on so many levels.

    It was a book I found very hard to put down.

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