Posted by Cassandra T. in Book Reviews on March 10, 2014
After reading countless posts and reviews rave about The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and considering that it was named the Best Novel of 2012 by Time Magazine, I decided to read it for myself. I was expecting a serious tearjerker, seeing the numerous comments on how moved the readers were when reading the book and how much tears they shed at the end.
While the storyline was good, it did leave me a little disappointed. Not to sound like a cold-hearted biatch, but I didn’t shed a tear by the end of the novel. I felt sad, yes, but not to the point of any weeping done (FYI, I cried like mad when Mad-Eye Moody, Dobby, Snape and Dumbledore died, so it’s not like I don’t have a heart!).
The Fault in Our Stars is about a terminally ill cancer patient, Hazel Lancester, and a cancer survivor, Augustus Waters, who meet at a Cancer Kid Support Group and fall in love. With her terminal illness waiting in the shadows like the Grim Reaper, theirs is a love that cannot last. As Hazel struggles with her cancer and her doomed relationship, a twist occurs that none of them expects.
Now, this is not your typical cancer-ridden, all doom-and-gloom story. The self-deprecating humour and hard truths about cancer that Hazel and Augustus use to deal with their illnesses gives an interesting insight into what it’s like for cancer patients living through their ordeal. The author also attempts to show what it’s like for the family members who support the cancer patients, sacrificing money, dreams and time to take care of them, as well as going through the grief of slowly, but surely losing a family member to cancer. It’s not easy to view the situation from another person’s perspective, especially when the book is written in a first-person point of view.
While the star-crossed lovers’ tragic tale is indeed moving, the characters felt stiff and it took a while to warm up to them. It is hard to believe that a 16/17-year-old would spout words like “hamartia” and “decompensating”, even with the argument that Hazel and Augustus are not “normal” 16 and 17-year-olds. It sounds odd even in normal, real-life conversations!
Also, I felt the story was bogged down by the vast number of literary references used. Hazel and Augustus bond over a shared love of reading, but the amount of references to Shakespeare, poetry and other philosophers was just overkill. At times, they sound more like literature professors than cancer-battling teenagers.
One thing’s for sure though: with the amount of literature quoted in the book, Green has definitely secured a place for The Fault in Our Stars in Literature classes all over the world to decipher the meaning of those literary references with regards to the story’s characters and situations.
If you are a big fan of literature, you will probably appreciate this book to the fullest. However, if you are the average young adult fiction reader, it would take some digesting to fully grasp what the characters are getting at.