Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

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.

This book is stunningly beautiful.

I’ve spent a long time after finishing it thinking about what I wanted to say in my review. So much of it has already been said before in the numerous reviews out there that talk about how beautiful, how heartbreaking, how tragic this book is, and I feel like I’m just going to repeat all of that, but here goes.

I loved this book. I loved Hazel. Her strength, her quiet determination to try to just keep going each day, her humour, her realistic outlook – it was pitched absolutely perfectly. She was such an incredible character and was the perfect narrator to take us through. At moments I was laughing out loud.
“Congratulations! You’re a woman! NOW DIE.”
And then I would be sobbing my heart out because it was so unfair and horrible and downright depressing, and yet Green manages to keep the story as a compelling a beautiful piece of artwork, instead of some morbid look at cancer children.

I adored Augustus, he was such a fantastic character, and the two of them bounced off each other and created some beautifully funny, poignant and touching scenes. They made such a fantastic pair, the humour, the realistic outlook on life, the downright tragic moments. It was written so beautifully

That’s one of the things I love most about Green’s books. His writing is so unbelievably beautiful. I can’t even put into words how stunning it is. I first found it in ‘Looking for Alaska’ and I wondered if that was a one off, or whether this book would speak to me in the same way, and it really really does. It’s so incredibly beautiful, and it was for his writing that I originally picked up this book. Not for the story – I’m more of a fantasy kind of girl – but his prose.
Although once I started reading I couldn’t help but fall in love with the story.

At the same time Green has made it very accessible and relatable even to those who aren’t cancer sufferers. I have chronic pain syndrome, something that makes me similarly have good and bad days, try out a plethora of new and exciting medications to ease the pain, and provokes a reaction in friends not unlike the reaction Hazel experiences. Whilst I am in no way comparing my own experiences to those of Hazels, I still found some of her thoughts and sentiments about those things to really strike home in a way that I truly wasn’t expecting from this book. It suddenly made it feel more personal in a way that I wasn’t prepared for. And I was impressed. When I went into the book I almost expected it to be some sort of cloying preaching book about cancer that I, as someone with no experience of it personally or in my family, wouldn’t really connect with. Whereas in reality it was a touching book that brought so much to the table, and allowed me to identify with it in ways that I wouldn’t have expected.

And I cried. God how I cried. It was inevitable and yet utterly heart breaking, and despite the fact that it was a book, and despite the fact that I had only known these characters for a couple of hours, it touched me and provoked emotional responses in me that I didn’t expect to have.

I loved this book. I cannot recommend it enough. It is beautiful, and heart breaking, and took my breath away. And stayed with me long after I turned the last page.


  1. I'm finding it difficult to put into words how I felt about this one too. Hard to come up with something different to say..

  2. Great review, I found myself reading it and thinking 'Why didn't I say that in my review, that's so true!'. It always makes a story more powerful when you can relate to it, even sometimes in the smallest of ways. And don't worry, you are not alone, I think the world has cried an oceans worth of tears of Hazel and Gus! :)

    1. Oh so many tears! Both for the book and then the film - so much ugly crying occurs when either of them get re-visited. Thank you so much for reading!