Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: The Fault In Our Stars

Hazel Grace Lancaster has Cancer and even though she has been taking a miracle drug that shrinks the Cancer cells for years, she is still dying. Wanting her to interact with other people, her mother forces her to go to a local Cancer survivor support group. Here she meets a new friend, Isaac and a new love, Augustus, Gus, Waters. The book is Grace and Augusts’ story of falling in love despite the fact that they both suffer from a disease that will ultimately kill them.

The Fault In Our Stars
Author: John Green
Publication Date: 2012
Publisher: Dutton Books
Number of Pages: 318
Where I Got It: Target
Dates I Read It: June 16 & 17, 2013
Number of Stars: 4/5
Read It For: YA Pick- June 2013

I have wanted to read this one for a long time. I've been hearing amaz-ball things about it and it seems that every blog I read and every YouTuber I watch has read, loved and reviewed this book. I am 100% in love with John Green. So, I quit waiting around for the paperback to come out or for the library to get in a copy so I did something that I rarely do- in the hopes of this book being as amazing as everyone kept telling me that it would be, I bought a hardback copy! Last week my mom, my aunt and I went to the beach for a week and this was one of the books that I took. In fact, this was the one book that I read entirely while at the beach (I also finished Ender's Game and started Tell The Wolves I'm Home). I was able to read it in two days partly because it was a YA book which means not as long as an adult fiction book and partly because it was really good. It wasn't the mind-blowing, change-your-life, read-a-million-times book, but it was pretty damn good! As a warning, I'm going to include "spoilers" throughout this review so if you've not read it yet and you want to go into it with fresh eyes, then stop reading now and go pick up your copy. 

So we have a few select characters and I loved each of them. What was so amazing about the characters is that they were still real kids at heart despite these awful diseases that were claiming their bodies. They played copious amounts of video games, they watched copious amounts of mindless television, they dealt with annoying and overbearing parents, they fell in love and they got their hearts broken. I was pretty blown away by the dialogue between the characters. Several of the reviews that I either read or watched for this book also mentioned that the vocabulary and the manner of speaking that the teenagers used was pretty distracting and very unrealistic. Despite the fact that the way of speaking was not entirely true to life, thanks to John Green’s genius, it was still really well done and beautifully written. Another thing that I was somewhat disappointed in was Hazel’s lack of character development. Every other character in the book developed in major ways throughout the course of the story, yet Hazel didn't seem to join any of them and she remained somewhat flat for me for the duration of the book. Hazel was a difficult protagonist for me because she was very likable but she wasn't very believable, especially towards the end. She was confronted with so many dilemmas that I thought for sure that she would grow the most and I was very disheartened when she developed the least. One thing that I adored about this book was the fact that unlike in most YA novels, the parents were not just background figures but they were actual characters in the story themselves with actual plot lines and secrets of their own. Augustus was himself until the end. He was a fully developed character from the beginning and it will be hard for any female reader to not fall in love with him. Isaac was very endearing. If I ever lose my sight I hope that I can take it as well as Isaac does. In typical teenage fashion, he was more preoccupied with a break up! Peter Van Houten is the author of Hazel’s favorite book. I love when writers write about writers. Though we don’t get a great deal of interaction with Peter, he remained true to character and was douchy til the end, yet as readers we can’t fault him for it and I ended up liking him very much.

I really enjoyed the story and french-a-llama if I didn’t cry! I’m grateful to this book because it made me very grateful for what I do have. It was beautifully written and the pacing was well done. I loved how it ended; it was foreshadowed that the book would end this way throughout so I was expecting it (both the events as well as they stylistic choice to end it where he did). At its heart this is a story about falling in love and what it’s like for a teenager to be in love with a dash of disease and death thrown in. Despite what I thought going into the book it is not a book about death or dying or disease, but about living, however brief it may be. It’s about finding yourself or in the case of some of the characters, re-discovering yourself.

Like I said earlier the dialogue was somewhat distracting as it was very unrealistic for teenagers to engage in conversation the way that these characters did. John Green’s writing style is all his own which is to say exceedingly sharp and engaging. What really amazed me in this book was how well he wrote a female protagonist, he did it better than many female writers! Having read Will Grayson, Will Grayson (and loving it) and now being impressed with this novel, I started researching Mr. Green online and I discovered his YouTube channel that he does with his brother, Hank, called Vlogbrothers and if you've not experienced this yet then you have been missing out! I encourage you to leave my blog and stop reading my review and go to watch his videos right now. That’s how good they are! He also does a series called CrashCourse in which he explains significant events in history and literature and science in a humorous and relatable way! After you've watched all of the Vlogbrothers videos and come back here to finish the review, I now encourage you to leave again to go see CrashCourse. And speaking of leaving the blog and going to watch other things I wanted to include Elizzebooks review of the Fault in Our Stars because she is able to capture John Green’s writing style perfectly:

The story was set in Indiana which really didn't matter to me, this was a story that could have been set anywhere in the US and it still would have rang true. The theme is universal and everyone can relate whether they be a Cancer patient, survivor, teenager, or someone in love. At one point in the novel the characters get to go to Amsterdam and I didn't like this part of the book while I was reading it, but after finishing the novel and reflecting on it, this was actually perfectly done. Amsterdam was the best setting for what happens there and it was an amazing crescendo for the characters to climb to before the end of the book.

I am very glad that I finally joined the bandwagon and read this book and I encourage you to as well. There is something that everyone can get from it. It wasn't as earth-shattering as I had hoped, thus the only 4 stars, yet it was terrifically done and beautifully written and it did invoke an emotional reaction from me.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings."                     –William Shakespeare from Julius Caesar

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