Here’s my take on the New York Times #1 bestselling novel, The Fault in Our Stars.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous post about cancer, I read The Fault in Our Stars.
Now, the first thing to understand is that I didn’t choose to read this book because I was super-interested in cancer or in reading about two teens who have cancer. I chose to read it because John Green is the guy behind Crash Course World History which is rather awesome. The second reason I chose to write it is because i iz a writer and writers are *supposed* to be reading other people’s novels to find out how they write, right?!? Well, this book is praised all around for being a supremely amazing book with beautiful writing and mind-blowing themes. It has five stars on Goodreads, after all. Surely it can’t be bad.
And I think this is where my problem with the novel lies. You see, once you start to expect something out of something, you’re always looking for it to meet that expectation. I was expecting The Fault in Our Stars to blow my mind, because that’s what the reviews say. I’m sure that if I never read any review and simply read this book I’d think it was much better, but this novel simply didn’t blow my mind all that much. It was slightly mind blowing, to be sure, but then the sad tone of the novel plays a part in that.
Here’s a short summary: Hazel Grace is a teen who has lung cancer but a miraculous new innovation in medicine is keeping her alive. She meets this handsome young man, Augustus Waters, at Cancer Support Group (in a place known as the ‘Literal Heart of Jesus’, which is a rather strange name in my opinion at least) and they fall in love. Now, Augustus Waters used to have leg cancer, so they’re a bit like cancer-partners, one of them recovering and the other always on the edge of death.
Reviews with spoilers suck so I’m not going to say any more than that. Now onto my thoughts about this. First, it’s very sad. Call it romance, call it whatever you will; the basic plot is still there that it’s about two teenagers slowly ceasing to exist bit by bit. It’s not a happy lovey-dovey story so avoid this book by all means if you can’t bear the slightest sadness. This book has lots. But I guess the fact that it’s sad is the whole point of this novel. You keep remembering that you might die one day. And it creates a weird situation for these cancer-stricken teenagers. They’re stuck in this teenage body but they’re given old-age minds: they know that they’re going to die soon, there’s no escaping that, and if you’re old then you can do pretty much whatever the heck you want, as long as your body’s still fit for it. But these are teenagers. They’re supposed to be living a fun life, right? They can still be wasting life. But Hazel and Augustus can’t. They’re “living their best life today”. And I guess this is what I like most about this novel. It’s a reminder that you’re gonna die one day. I’ve been talking about death in the post I linked in the first sentence of this post, and that is probably hammered in from this novel too. You’re gonna die one day. And that one day may be soon. Don’t you ever forget that.
This novel is also about loss. Hazel and Augustus are in a relationship which they know might break apart very soon, not because they don’t love each other, but because of their cancer, of Hazel’s ‘crap lungs’ (as she puts it). Another big theme here is being remembered versus doing what you feel is most important. They’re related but they’re different things.
Green also does a really good job with emotions. I mean, heck these emotions felt by Hazel and Augustus are complicated. Just love is complicated enough, but once you slap on a layer of cancer the emotions are really complicated. Emotions aren’t easy things to write about at all, and Green does a really, really good job.
There is one small quirk about this novel that I feel strange about, however. Now this isn’t a big thing, but I want to mention it on here because it’s a spot of bother for me. Augustus Waters and a man named Peter Van Houten (a rather big character, actually) all speak in this super-scientific complicated-language-riddled speech. It’s crazy. No one in real life speaks like that, outside of the fancy universities at least. I mean, I’m fine with one of them speaking in this sort of style, because it emphasizes their detached-from-the-world-iness and stuff, but two characters?
Aside from that, I must say that I like this novel. It’s very good, to say the least. It’s gonna give you a lot to think about. But I don’t feel that it’s exactly as good as the reviews put it. I’d give it four stars out of five.
One last thing, before we go: the title of The Fault in Our Stars comes from this quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Very thoughtful, this title, isn’t it.
What’s your opinion of The Fault in Our Stars?