Let me start off by saying, I have NEVER cried while reading a book and while I didn’t cry during this one, I might have ALMOST teared up just a little bit while reading The Fault in Our Stars (TFiOS). I’m not much of a crier but if you are then this book might just be a tear jerker for you. I know TFiOS received tons of positive reviews and was on many best sellers list so I was nervous when I began this book. I didn’t think it would live up to all of the hype but boy was I wrong.
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.
I truly loved every minute of this book. It’s so beautifully written and at the same time John Green sugar coats nothing. After all TFiOS is a story about teenagers with cancer. This book is about so much more than cancer though, the characters are forced to deal with some serious issues and ask big questions about their lives. Hazel’s fear in life is not dying from her cancer but what will happen to those she loves after she’s gone. Augustus fears oblivion, he does not want to be forgotten after he passes away. One would think teenagers with cancer can not live a full life but this story challenges that. A full life can be lived even if it’s not a long one.
“There will come a time…when all of us are dead. All of us” (1.18)
John Green writes the story from the point of view of Hazel, a 16 year old girl who was diagnosed with stage 4 Thyroid cancer at the age of 13 and has a metastasis that has formed in her lungs. She’s managed to survive due to an experimental drug, Phalanxifor, but is still terminal and always will be. This drug does not really exist. Green created this fictional wonder drug for TFiOS but wouldn’t it be wonderful if a drug like this really did exist? Maybe one day.
“My name is Hazel. Augustus Waters was the great star-crossed love of my life. Ours was an epic love story, and I won’t be able to get more than a sentence into without disappearing into a puddle of tears. Gus knew. Gus knows. I will not tell you our love story, because – like all real love stories – it will die with us, as it should.” (20.174-75)
Hazel’s parents force her to return to a cancer support group meeting for teenagers. This is where she meets Augustus “Gus” Waters through her friend Isaac. Gus is the one person who is able to break through Hazel’s hard exterior and begins to show her there is more to her life than her cancer. They traveled to Amsterdam together to find Peter Van Houten, Hazel’s self proclaimed third best friend and author of her favorite book An Imperial Affliction. The trip to Amsterdam was my favorite part of the book. While Van Houten did end up being a total jerk, Hazel & Gus got to just be somewhat normal. No attending cancer support group meetings just experiencing the beauty of a foreign country together. They had a beautiful dinner overlooking a canal and shared their first kiss. For a moment they were happy and got to enjoy being young.
“I couldn’t be mad at him for even a moment, and only now that I loved a grenade did I understand the foolishness of trying to save others from my own impending fragmentation: I couldn’t unlove Augustus Waters.” (13.143)
Green was able to capture the truth of teenagers with cancer in such a realistic way and at the same time managed to stay away from being overly melodramatic. Hazel is such a witty character with an almost dry sense of humor which I loved. Gus is so positive even after losing a leg to Osteosarcoma. It was so heart wrenching when Gus’ cancer came back after being in remission. I know it’s a story about teenagers with cancer so it’s pretty obvious there will not be a happily ever after ending but I was still holding out for the slight chance, just maybe, they would all survive their cancer.
“I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things…I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know that the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.” (10.107)
My only slight negative, and I do mean slight, is the language Hazel & Gus used at times. I get they were both very intelligent and wise beyond their years but 16 year olds do not talk the way they did all the time. Even teenagers who are forced to grow up faster than they should. I mean seriously, what teenage boy would profess his love using the language above? No teenage boy I ever knew. While beautiful, the vocabulary between them was not always realistic.
“I do, Augustus, I do.” (25.210)
I was totally shocked by the ending. I’ll admit I’m still shocked. I really was hoping for more. This must be how Hazel felt when she finished An Imperial Affliction. However, I will not go on a search for John Green to find out what happened to Hazel, Isaac, or Hazel’s parents. I’m going to choose to believe the drugs kept working for Hazel and she lived a long life. Isaac was able to get an eye transplant which restored his vision. Hazel’s mom becomes a social worker and makes a positive difference in many children’s lives.
“The world…is not a wish-granting factory.” (13.144)
This line from the book stuck with me the most because you can’t get any more accurate than that.
Were you expecting the story to end the way it did?
Do you think TFiOS lived up to the hype?
Did you think Gus was going to die?
What did you think for Peter Van Houten?
P.S. TFiOS was made into a movie!! I’m excited, can’t wait to see it. I hope they did a good job and stayed true to the book. Will you be watching the movie?