Book Review – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Book Review – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Book Review – The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Published by Penguin
Publication date: January 10, 2012
Genres: Young Adult
337 pages
Format: Paperback

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, 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.

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Book Review:

This book left me breathless and at a complete loss for words.  I don’t know how to even begin to put my thoughts into words, but I’m going to do my darndest.  Going into this book, I knew it was a cancer book.  I was made sure I was prepared for the emotional warfare that John Green was about to bestow upon me.  I had a good supply of Kleenex, a pillow to cry into, ugly comfy clothes, and lots of chocolate. You guys, I knew this was going to be emotional, but I had NO IDEA just how jack up I would be in the end.  The book wins the award for “Best Ugly Cry Fest”.  I was a complete wreck.  No other book has made me cry this hard.

Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace are two fictional characters that I will never forget.  As professional sick people, both have had to stare death in the face at such a young age.  They are remarkably mature and have an interesting outlook on life (however, short theirs may be).  Augustus buys cigarettes, but doesn’t smoke them (a walking metaphor).  Augustus makes cancer jokes, but the reality of it all is anything but funny.  Hazel Grace’s lungs work the way they’re supposed to, and Augustus has one leg.  Both characters take this horrific, gut-wrenching situation and somehow make it less foreboding and depressing.  See, the funny thing about cancer:

“Cancer is not all that bad really, it just wants to be alive.”

Yes, cancer is the antagonist in this tearjerker. You have been forewarned. If you are one of those people who avoids Nicholas Sparks’s books because someone always dies in the end, I beg of you to read this book.  I’m not saying anyone dies, but the journey these characters take together is wonderful. If anything, the writing alone is reason enough to read this book. As I read, I felt like I was getting an education at the “College of Sentence Artistry” taught by professor John freaking Green.  I say this in a non-self-deprecating way: there is no way on God’s green earth that I would be able to craft a sentence like John Green.  The man is a genius.

This story and the characters made me feel.  By the end of the book, I was gutted, emotionally raw, and strangely happy.  Even with all the talk of death, I was left with a feeling of hope.  Augustus so desperately wanted his life to mean something, to leave a big mark.  But Hazel helped him realize that perhaps he already had left his mark.  He fell in love with Hazel Grace and helped her and many others live their life to the fullest.  Hazel and Augustus lived beautiful lives, despite being hunted and haunted by death.

“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Because you’re beautiful. I enjoy looking at beautiful people, and I decided a while ago not to deny myself the simpler pleasures of existence.”

Though the subject matter of this book is doom and gloom, it is surprising funny (or maybe not-so surprisingly funny if you’re a John Green fanatic.  The man is hilarious).  Augustus’s quirky view of his own life and illness was what made me smile.  Augustus’s and Hazel’s banter back and forth had me laughing out loud and envious of their wit and comedic timing.  And if all this praise isn’t enough to get you to read this book, there is Venn Diagram humor.

“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.”Kissing someone so that you can get a free trip is perilously close to full-on hooking, and I have to confess that while I did not fancy myself a particularly good person, I never thought my first real sexual action would be prostitutional.

Green has written a love story, but TFioS is so much more.  It’s a story about life and how short it can be.  It’s a story about tragedy and what you choose do with it.  It’s a story about two people who have been dealt a crappy hand who choose to forget about winner and just play the game.

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