Monday, November 17, 2014

Review - The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green
Date: 2012
Publisher: Dutton Books
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
Pages: 318
Format: e-book
Source: library

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.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Thanks to John Green, I don't even have to write a review of this book.  It's right there in the text, thrust into the mouth of Augustus Waters by his own creator:

Tell me my copy is missing the last twenty pages or something.

... tell me I have not reached the end of this book.


Thank you, Gus.  That about sums it up.

This must be one of the most infuriating, tiresome, exhausting, utterly pretentious pile of pages I have ever had the displeasure of reading.  Ever.  Unlike the vast majority of people who read this book, I did not enjoy it.  I did not cry, either, despite reading about the tear-jerkiness factor in other reviews.  In fact, my first reaction upon finishing TFIOS was to heave a huge sigh of relief (while simultaneously thinking, "Seriously? That's it?") and then break out in a huge smile because I had finally (finally!!!) finished.

To be fair, the story itself isn't completely awful.  Unfortunately, I hated pretty much everything else.  I've never read anything by John Green before, and I think it's safe so say that I never will again.  In fact, I'll probably go out of my way to avoid his books if this is how he writes, like someone "who says fancy things to get attention like a really precocious eleven-year-old and I feel super bad for [him]".  (Sorry... I couldn't resist.  But, really, I wasn't kidding when I said earlier that John Green basically wrote this review for me.)

Because of the writing, I pretty much hated all the characters.  Augustus Waters is a Manic Pixie Dream Boy who is way too close to a masculine version of Hazel... only a lot nicer and supposedly hot (which makes it okay for him to stare at Hazel like a stalker when they first meet; if he was ugly, I guess she would've called 911 or something).  Hazel's parents seem placed into the story only to provide a bit of conflict at the oddest moments.  Hazel's friend Kaitlyn is conspicuously absent for most of the book, appearing in only a few scenes, acting like a total poseur and being nothing more than a... actually, I'm not really sure what the point of Kaitlyn was.  Isaac, Gus's friend, is probably the only character in the whole book who didn't make me either roll my eyes, scratch my head in bewilderment, or want to scream, but he played such a relatively small role that even he couldn't salvage the book for me.  And then there's Hazel, which leads me to my main problem with this book: I absolutely hated the main character (and main character-hatred is a really difficult thing for a book to overcome).  She's rude, selfish, nihilistic, depressing, and mean (even though Gus says she isn't... but I heartily disagree; you don't tell a blind guy that it wasn't "nice" of him to have his eyes cut out of his head and retain your "not mean" status).  But the worst thing about Hazel is that she is so annoyingly pretentious.  This whole book is pretentious, continually veering off into philosophical ramblings that seem to be vomited from the characters' mouths... just because.  If I wanted to read about philosophers, I'd pick up Sophie's World again (which somehow manages to entertainingly incorporate philosophy and fiction without being so maddeningly pretentious).

I made so many notes as I was reading this book, but I'm too worn out to post them all or even try to incorporate them into this review.  Maybe I'm just too old, maybe I'm jaded, or maybe I just can't relate to a book about teenagers who speak as if they're all vying for the Nobel Prize in Really Depressing Insights on the Universe.  This book didn't elicit the sorts of emotions in me that it seems to elicit in everyone else; instead of a tear-jerker of a beautiful story, The Fault in Our Stars was, for me, just an exercise in endurance.

Now I can say I've read it.  But I can't say I'd really recommend it.

Quotable moment:

Look, let me just say it: He was hot. A nonhot boy stares at you relentlessly and it is, at best, awkward and, at worst, a form of assault. But a hot boy... well.

Recommended to: fans of pretentious teen characters who all sound like wannabe philosophers

Plot: 1/5
Characters: 1/5
Pace: 2/5
Writing & Editing: 2/5
Originality: 1/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall Rating: 1.29 out of 5 ladybugs


  1. Oh my, you've written the review I wanted to write but didn't have the energy to spit in the wind of John Green hagiology. I was so turned off by the media manipulation before the durn thing even came out that I was going to skip it altogether. But then, I thought I really ought to see what the fuss was about. The only thing that got me through it was the fact that I read it with my ears and the narrator did a phenomenal job. In fact, the audio won an Odyssey the following January. It's an okay cancer book. My favorite cancer book has to be Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick followed closely by its sequel/ companion After Ever After. Another YA cancer book that came out the same time as Green's was Me, Earl and the Dying Girl, which was actually quite different than any I've read. Have you read it?

    Thanks for visiting and commenting on my TTT. I love your blog and am adding it to my feed.


    1. Thank you! I was actually afraid I might get flamed for not liking this one. I've heard some nasty stories...

      I don't have much experience with cancer books in general; I think the only one I read where the disease played a major role was Breathless by Lurlene McDaniel... but that one was pretty weak, too (though not in the same ways that The Fault in Our Stars was weak).

  2. I am so scared of this book, so many people rave about it, but I don't like sad. Main characters can so make or break a book, if I just don't care about them then the rest of the book had better be fantastic. Especially in a dying kid book, the main character had better be the most awesome character ever. Well at least it didn't get a dead ladybug ;)

    1. I didn't find it that sad, really. There was more philosophizing than actual emotion, so it was hard for me to engage with the characters.

      I kind of wish I could've given it a dead ladybug, but the writing itself was not technically that bad (although John Green does have an annoying habit of writing really long sentences that, while not run-ons or grammatically incorrect, are still kind of awkward to read). Plus, it was short. If it had been a 600-page book that I'd had to slog through, I probably wouldn't have been so generous with my rating!

  3. Whoa. That is not the review I was expecting when I began reading your post and yet I can't help but respect your opinion. I've had this one on my to-read list for some time, just haven't made it around to reading it yet. Now, I have seen the movie (don't judge) and although I'm not a huge fan of the actress chosen for Hazel, the story itself....I liked. Maybe it's one of those that translates better from page to screen...a rare occasion I admit, but it does happen. Anywho, thanks for the insight! Better luck next read around...

    1. I haven't seen the movie yet (I'm not sure I even want to)! It actually might not be as annoying as the book, since we're not in Hazel's head the whole time. Mind you, if it has a ton of voice-over with Hazel's thoughts, I might not like it.

      I actually didn't expect to dislike this one as much as I did. I was wary going into it because there was so much hype, but I thought the story might be decent. I wasn't expecting the writing style and the characters, though; those are the things I really didn't like, and they pretty much ruined the book for me.

  4. I enjoyed the book I lot (not as much as most people did enjoy it, but I gave it 5 stars nevertheless), so obviously I don't agree with your review, but hey, everyone has the right to have their own taste :) I can understand it didn't work for you though, Gus and Hazel aren't exactly typical characters. Actually, I liked them for the very reason you disliked them: I liked that they thought differently and had these sort of philosophical conversations. I don't know if such teenagers exist in real life, but well, I did enjoy reading about these ones :)
    Anyway, I do hope your next read was a better one!

    1. I know I'm in the minority. And I might have liked the book a bit more if Hazel and Augustus hadn't been so similar. One quirky, philosophical character might've been tolerable... but two was just two much for me!