Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

by | Dec 4, 2018 | Heidi's Updates

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

My Thoughts: I almost don’t know where to start when it comes to this book. It’s been on my to-read list for a bit. I don’t usually hang out in the Young Adult book arena, but when I do, I often enjoy it. I’d heard such great things about this book, and with nearly 3 million reviews on Goodreads, and a movie to its credit (one I haven’t yet watched), I was really excited going in.

And I wonder if maybe that was part of the problem. I’m thinking some of what may have disappointed me about this book was in my high expectations of it pre-first page.

Don’t get me wrong–John Green is an amazing writer. Amazing. He’s honest and thought-provoking and real. These are all things I strive to be in my own writing. When I was trying to figure out why this book simply didn’t satisfy me, I had to dig, and I’m still not sure if I know why.

My first thought was it’s just such a heavy topic–two teenagers dying of cancer. But in all honesty, heavy doesn’t bother me. In fact, I often gravitate toward it. Some of my favorite reads this year were VERY heavy (Susan Meissner’s As Bright As Heaven and Kristin Hannah’s Winter Garden and The Great Alone). My own latest novel, The Hidden Side, involves a family dealing with the aftermath of a young son who has brought a gun to school and used it on his own classmates.

So, while I’m definitely okay with heavy topics, I’m also adamant about hope. For me, there simply needs to be some form of hope to complete the story. And it doesn’t even have to be a spiritual hope. But something. I suppose I could see a glimmer of it in The Fault in Our Stars, but not enough to give me that full, satisfying feeling that I look for in a book.

The other possible reason I wasn’t crazy about the novel was my trouble connecting with the main character, Hazel. The girl has cancer. I should like her by default, but I just couldn’t completely sympathize with her. Yes, I wanted her to get better and fall in love and have a happy ending, but something about her didn’t ring true for me. (I could simply be completely out of touch with teenage girls, but I once was one, so I’m not really sure that’s the case either.) In part, I wanted to see more of her, even on a deeper level. And while I truly believe great writers (writers like Green!) are capable of writing from point-of-views of the opposite sex, many times I felt it obvious that Hazel was being written by the pen of a man (maybe I’ve just read too much Kristin Hannah!).

Okay, all that being said, I want to once again state how I am in no way accusing John Green of not having talent. He absolutely does. And he absolutely doesn’t need me to affirm that he does. Green has a unique way with words and getting to the heart of an issue that I admire. The quote below is one example. But while I appreciated his writing, I don’t think it’s going to be enough for me to come back for more. Not that it matters. With millions of copies sold, he can probably afford for me to take my reading time elsewhere. 😉

Favorite Quote: “If you don’t live a life in service of a greater good, you’ve gotta at least die a death in service of a greater good, you know? And I fear that I won’t get either a life or a death that means anything.”

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