Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars
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.
Let me start off by saying that I will depart form my typical structure in the reviewing of this book. All you need to know is that in terms of plot, characters, setting, pacing and style it has earned that 100% A+ grade that I have never given to any book before. But more than that, this novel, as both entertainment material and as a thought evoker deserves infinitely more than any old grade I can give it.
One would love to tout the novel as a “life changer”; the best fiction material you will ever read on the subject of life, its meaning and the inevitable “ceasing of being”, but it’s not. That would be too over-glorifying, even for me, although this book is certainly deserving of such praise. It WILL make you think, perhaps for even longer than you can imagine now. But in time your life probably will not change. You will continue to be you and do what whatever it is you do, and eventually you may even find yourself forgetting the impact of the themes of this story. Even the greatest of “life changing” events do that to even the most inspired of us all (just look at the repetitiveness of human history). But do know that this book WILL make you think. It may even make you worry.
To speak of the book itself: The dialogue is witty, and frequently laugh out loud funny. There is a good deal of dark humor splattered throughout. Simply put, it is also the most enjoyable as well as the most tragic book that I have read in some years. I told to my husband while in the midst of the book that I couldn’t turn a single page without wanting to read a passage out loud to him. And when I did read a passage out loud (which happened frequently), he appeared to be as engrossed as I was, laughing and sighing when appropriate. The main character, Hazel, is wise beyond her years, but still manages to sound like a 16 year old (with a terminal disease) throughout the entire novel. Hazel is my kind of girl, whose thoughts and emotions are nearly identical to mine (though I have now lived to be double her age at the time of the book). Augustus is the single most intriguing character I have ever had the pleasure to meet through fiction. He is Hazel’s hero, as well as mine. You must read the book to understand.
Now, down to the nitty-gritty: To read this book is to have an open mind. I admit to being a lady of little-to-no Faith (religious Faith, that is). But those who do have such Faith must understand that the characters in this book might not. I think my enjoyment of this book was heightened because I felt that I saw life through the eyes and minds of the characters. Some people may have to suspend their own beliefs (in God and the hereafter) while reading. Keep that in mind. Just because you are Faithless does NOT mean you do not have faith in living.
Finally, you WILL cry. Tears of joy and laughter, frustration, sadness and/or pain. For whatever reason you usually cry, you will likely cry because of while reading TFiOS. I admire the novel for its bleakness, it’s bluntness and, even in the darkest of moments, its honesty. I believe that the author of An Imperial Affliction (a book within this book) has a point, even in one of the cruelest parts of the book, when he asks the question: “Have you ever stopped to wonder why you care so much about your silly questions?” This is a question that many of us will likely ask in the moments after finishing The Fault in Our Stars, which (again) is as near to a “life changing” novel on the topic of life and death that one can get.
I recommend this book to ALL readers. Yes, that means YOU. If you know someone with cancer or have ever suffered in your life thanks to cancer, it’s a must read. If you have ever pondered the human condition – existence, life, death and the like – (i.e. if you’re HUMAN and currently breathing), it’s a must read. If you like books, it’s a must read.
Go. Get it. Now. And if you regret that decision after finishing the book, I can live with the blame.
(Oh, and I must ask: How many of you Googled An Imperial Affliction while reading this book? Go on, admit it. I DID. Perhaps John Green can write that next?)
Grade: A+ (plus infinitely larger than infinity)
(plus an infinite number of stars)
Posted on January 22, 2012, in Book Review, Five Star and tagged Agustus, Amsterdam, Awesome, Book Review, Cancer, Contemporary, Death, Five Stars, God, Haxel Grace, John Green, Life, Life Changing, Osteosarcoma, Romance, Terminal, The Fault in Our Stars, Thyroid Cancer, William Shakespeare, YA. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.