1 March 2013
REVIEW: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Penguin
UK Release date: January 2013
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.
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.
The first thing that will probably make you decide whether you read this book or not, is that it is about cancer. That may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I urge you to read this book. I cannot say a bad thing about it.
Being the first book I've read by John Green I completely underestimated what this book would be like. What surprised me the most about his writing is that he can write big sensitive themes and events but also the subtle nuisances of human behaviour. The latter really made the characters feel alive, through their life-like gestures, responses, thoughts, and everyday habits. But on the flip side, John Green can take the often depressing subject of terminal illness and infuse it with empathy, humour, emotion, and joy.
Hazel is the narrator for the story and at first she is isolated and alone, almost hiding away with her illness in order to protect everyone around her from getting hurt. She was so strong and honest about death, that it made her a very brave and brilliant character. But I'm also so glad that she didn't allow her illness to keep her from the world and connecting with other people.
Augustus (Gus) was gorgeous and an absolute star. His personality and wit blew me away. I loved how positive he stayed throughout his, Hazel's and Isaac's treatments. He made me smile and laugh, and I was so glad he and Hazel found each other.
What worked really well was seeing how Hazel's family coped with her illness. This wasn't something I had expected but I think it was important for the reader and Hazel to understand how her parents felt about the situation.
Gus and Hazel were brilliant together and so perfect for each other. Perhaps though they were a little too smart for me, with their existential and philosophical debates and satirical comments. This did allow the sensitive central themes of cancer and dying to be thought provoking but also touched with wit and humour. It also gave me a sense of reality to Hazel's condition and the chances of her survival. The pair's differing views on life and death made me think; and like Gus I would want to make my mark.
I won't lie to you - The Fault in Our Stars is an emotional roller coaster ride. I laughed one minute and the next could be crying. And the end was so unexpected - the plot completely subverted my expectations and the unfolding events came out of nowhere taking me by complete surprise. It just seemed like life was so unfair for Hazel and other young cancer sufferers like Gus and Isaac. And it hit home how lucky I was just to be alive and healthy, and that I shouldn't take that for granted.
A must read - you will truly appreciate every day you have after reading this book.