The Fault in Our Stars Review

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The Fault in Our Stars Review

By Nate Vogel

You know you have a good book in your hands when it makes you laugh, cry, think deeply of life and death, and feel incredibly awkward at moments. “The Fault in Our Stars” is such a book.

The author of “TFIOS” is accomplished writer and co-creator of the VlogBrothers YouTube channel John Green. In the works for nearly ten years, “TFIOS” was inspired by Green’s good friend and fellow “nerdfighter” (the name of a VlogBrothers fan) Esther. Esther died in 2010 due to cancer and her life (and death) greatly impacted how Green finished the book. “So much of the story was inspired by her and my friendship with her and my affection for her family and friends,” Green said.

The title of the book was inspired by a line from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves” Green disagrees, believing that there is fault in fate. “Well, that’s of course ridiculous,” he said. “There is plenty of fault in our stars. The world is a profoundly unjust place in which suffering is unfairly distributed.”

“The Fault in Our Stars” follows the story of sixteen year-old Hazel, a young girl living in present-day Indiana with stage four thyroid cancer. Described as a “mid-2000’s V for Vendetta Natalie Portman,” by her best friend and boyfriend Augustus Waters, Hazel is a pessimistic person who uses her snarky pessimism as an outlet for her feelings. She finds comfort in reading a book titled “An Imperial Affection”, written by (the fictional) Peter Van Houten, and through watching “America’s Next Top Model.”

Narrated by Hazel, the book begins with her talking about her cancer, a time when her snarky and sarcastic outlook on everything comes out in full force. “Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer,” she said. “Depression is a side effect of dying. (Cancer is also a side effect of dying. Almost everything is, really.)”

Hazel has to go to support group, a place where other kids with life-threatening illnesses meet and talk. The group is lead by a man named Patrick, who always starts off with the same boringly sad story of his life. “We listened to Patrick recount for the thousandth time his depressingly miserable life story—how he had cancer in his balls and they thought he was going to die but he didn’t die and now here he is, a full-grown adult in a church basement in the 137th nicest city in America, divorced, addicted to video games, mostly friendless, eking out a meager living by exploiting his cancertastic past.”

Isaac, a friend of Hazel, comes into support group one day with another teenage boy named Augustus, a former basketball star who had to have his leg removed due to osteosarcoma. Augustus finds himself attracted to Hazel and wastes no time telling her up front how he feels about her. Hazel is awestruck that someone as attractive as him would feel that way about her. They quickly realize how they feel about each other and the strong connection between the two is felt instantly. The story continues to follow these two sarcastic, funny, pessimistic and awkward lovers through a cancer-filled period of growing up as almost normal American teenagers.

Hazel, while dealing with her cancer (being attached to an oxygen tank, nearly dying as her lungs filled with water, and other less-than-awesome things) is a very relatable character. Understanding Hazel is nearly impossible yet so easy at the same time. Even though she lives such an unbelievable life, Hazel herself is a believable character. You find yourself feeling the same emotions and feelings (except for dying, most likely) as her. I found myself growing very fond of Hazel and caring for her and her life.

I have read many books over the years —booked aimed towards kids, young adults/teens, and adults. From sci-fi to non-fiction, “TFIOS” is the best book I have ever read, and I am willing to stand by that statement. The characters are all oddly relatable considering their situations, and the modern mid-west setting makes it so that the whole town can almost feel like your own. The book’s consistently changing mood keeps you enthralled, wanting to read more. And that is one of the downsides of the book.

I was able to read “TFIOS” in a couple of days time, and I could have read it in a single day if I had tried. You become so emotionally attached to these characters that when it ends, you wish there was more. But the story ends where the story ends, and that is how John Green intended it to be.

As fair warning, do not read “TFIOS” in public. You will cry. It is an inevitable side effect of this book. It brought me to tears. The bond you build with these perfectly-written characters is strong, and the book has its various painful twists and turns that leave you heart wrenched. “The Fault in Our Stars” is a book that every teenager and person older should read. It can appeal to almost anyone, and provides an experience that would be a mistake to miss. John Green worked on “The Fault in Our Stars” for over 10 years, and all of the work he did really shows in this book. “The Fault in Our Stars” is a great piece of literature for just about any and all ages.