The Fault In Our Stars By John Green – Review

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Reading John Green’s book, The Fault in Our Stars was an interesting experience that is unlike most of the teen books that I have been reading since it is completely void of any preternatural goodness. It is not however, void of interesting characters, romance, sadness and some rather hilarious and thought provoking bits of wit.

Hazel Grace, the main character, is a teenager who goes to a support group for kids with cancer, which is where we meet Augustus and Isaac. I know that this isn’t really a premise that would interest some, because, well, it seems like a downer waiting to happen. Yet, the beauty of this book is not just about the spectre of death that hangs over them, but their reactions to it and each other which are filled with humour, vibrancy, love and a few crazy capers.

“I told Augustus the broad outline of my miracle: diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer when I was thirteen. (I didn’t tell him that the diagnosis came three months after I got my first period. Like: Congratulations! You’re a woman. Now die.)”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Although it’s told with a level of sophistication that may occasionally seem farfetched in those so young, I think that the way they speak is symbolism for how they are forced to live, maturing quickly, in constant competition with the time they have left. I kind of love how Green has used this title as a play on Shakespeare’s quote, or rather a direct challenge to it (from Julius Caesar when Cassius says to Brutus, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.) because it’s true. Sometimes we are the problem, but sometimes the problem is out of our hands and we just have to deal with life’s hurdles.

“And I wondered if hurdlers ever thought, you know, ‘This would go faster if we just got rid of the hurdles.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

One of the other small things that I enjoyed in the book is that Hazel is vegetarian. The way that she explains it was so simple and perfect that I kind of couldn’t help but feel moved by it, and although my reasons were initially motivated by my health experiment, I can’t help but feel a bit of solidarity with this statement:

I want to minimize the number of deaths I am responsible for.” ― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

While some may find that this topic is too sensitive to touch on, particularly since so many of us have experienced the pain of loved ones passing away from the horrors of disease, I think that it’s extremely important to have a book with characters that live with it to normalize the experience instead of hiding it away, because it makes people feel less isolated with their expereiences. I don’t think that the benefit comes from wallowing in its sadness, but from shining a bright light on its truths. I like the idea that characters like these have just as much right to tell their stories, because these stories are just as important for us to know.

“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

So, if you are up for the challenge, and don’t mind too much if your reading experience may require a tissue or two between chuckles and contemplations, try out The Fault of Our Stars, and let me know what you think.