Monday, 18 February 2013

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Author: John Green. Website, Twitter
Published: 10 January 2012 (Puffin)
Format: Hardback
Pages: 318
Amazon: Paperback|Kindle
Waterstone's: Paperback|e-book
Book Depository: Paperback|Hardback

Plot Summary: (from Goodreads)
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

My Review:
I first read this book last year and decided to re-read it recently, something I've been wanting to do for a while! It was the first John Green novel I read and all the hype when it was released was what drew me to it. Having re-read it, I wanted to update my review and add some more to my thoughts. The Fault in Our Stars tells the story of Hazel, who has thyroid cancer. When she attends a cancer support group she meets Augustus Walters and the two of them hit it off.

I'd forgotten just how instant this book was. From the first few pages I was already in love with Hazel as a character and unable to stop reading. What hit me is how funny the book is, which is not something you expect given the subject matter, but the humour throughout this book is just so spot on. The characters themselves are so funny and come out with the most beautiful lines that just crack me up.

The book charts Hazel and Augustus' relationship from the moment they meet and I can't stress just how much I loved the two of them and their developing relationship. They both have that same sense of humour and fantastic honesty that means you're not focusing on the fact that they're kids with cancer, you're just impressed by how awesome they are as people. I loved the fact that give and take from each other and always have time to listen, for example when they share they're favourite books with each other - I just loved how much they learnt from that experience and how they were open to learn from each other.

One of the things that impressed me most was how relatable this book was, which given I've never had cancer was pretty impressive. I thought there was one really telling comment when Hazel and Augustus were talking about how people tend to define themselves by their illness - something they've experienced with other cancer kids. I absolutely loved this observation because it's something I've had experience of. I'm chronically ill and I know so many people who introduce themselves with their illness and list all the things they can't do because of it instead of the things they can. I just had to stop reading at that moment and appreciate how nailed John Green has it.

Expanding on that, I think The Fault in Our Stars sums up brilliantly how life isn't perfect, but that you have to get on and deal with it whether you like it or not. There's real honesty in Hazel and Augustus' opinions of life and at points it can be pretty brutal reading them talk the way they do, but it's so refreshing to strip away all the wishy washy stuff and get down to the nitty gritty of how life can be a bitch but that sometimes you have no choice but to get on and make the most of it.

There's so much to take from this book - from a great love story to a book filled with metaphors about life, love, death and family. You can read it on so many levels and re-reading it definitely helped me appreciate that. Both times I've read it in the space of a day and then been unable to move on to another book as I digest it. I just loved the characters so much that I didn't want to stop reading about them or stop thinking about them. I think characters that mean that much to you after closing the pages is a sign of a perfect book.

I really would urge everyone to read this book. I know there will still be people who'll be wary because of the subject matter, but it's such an un-put-down-able refreshing read that I think it will appeal to so many if you give it a chance. The writing is moving, witty and poetic. Like I said, this book made me laugh, a lot. Yes there are sad moments, ones that rip at your heartstrings but reading every page of this book felt like such a pleasure.

Rating: 5*
What to read next: Looking for Alaska by John Green.
Books like this: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult, Before I Die by Jenny Downham

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