Monday, February 27, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars

by John Green
Published: Dutton Juvenile, 2012
Pages: 313

There has been so much hype around this novel since the book came out in January.  It is a #1 New York Times Bestseller and continues to be for the fifth straight week.  It has been a long awaited and highly anticipated novel for all of his fans, online and otherwise.  But does it live up to all of this?

The Fault In Our Stars is the story of two teenagers drawn together by a similar fate.  Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters are just normal teenagers living a normal teen-aged life, except that they both have cancer.  Augustus, in remission, lost a leg in his battle and Hazel lost the strength of her lungs.  This does not stop them from living their lives and falling in love.  Falling in love is only half the battle, Hazel learns to live life with one foot in the grave and the increasing knowledge that she is only a side affect of life. 

"That's the thing about pain," Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. "It demands to be felt" (page 63).

Indeed it does. John Green has the ability to take a subject so overdone and spin it so his readers feel a familiar hurt and excitement in a brand new way.  He eloquently balances tragedy with humor, making it a lethal combination.  His use of Venn Diagrams put a smile to my face and brightened the whole story. 

The characters in this novel are so completely believable, that at one point I honestly thought I had two friends named Augustus and Hazel.  They were perfectly flawed, aside from the whole cancer thing.  They spoke with the sarcasm and wit that I wish I could have harnessed as a teen.

The story told from Hazel's point of view let's the reader into her thoughts and insecurities.  It makes her seem more real, possibly because she tells us directly that she does not want to be an untimely grenade.  

The beauty lies in the writing and Augustus' metaphor is one example of John Green's beauty.  The idea of having a survivor of cancer use cigarettes as his personal metaphor is brilliant.  "You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don't give it the power to do its killing."  Simply stated, Augustus becomes so much more than another kid with cancer, he becomes the metaphor himself. 

In some ways, John Green has taught me how to cope with the inevitable sorrows of death its side affects.  He has broken and mended my heart (and the hearts of others) all in one fantastic book.  John Green is an author that knows his readers without actually personally knowing them.  In some ways, he is like the great Peter Van Houten, a creation of John Green and prolific author.  John Green is able to touch his readers through his writing and make them feel in a world that is overcome with numbness. 

Stars: 5/5

“A novel of life and death and the people caught in between, The Fault in Our Stars is John Green at his best. You laugh, you cry, and then you come back for more.”  
      - Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief

"The fault dear Brutus is not in the stars/But in ourselves, that we are underlings."   
        - Julius Caesar, Shakespeare

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