2013 Reads: Thirty {The Fault in Our Stars - John Green}

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How do you even review this book?

Where do you begin?

What do you talk about and what do you leave out?

Thanks, John Green, for making this review absolutely impossible to write.


Hazel was only 13 when she was diagnosed with stage IV thyroid cancer and estimated that she only had a short time left to live. She was prepared to die. But then, when she turned 14, a miracle drug shrunk the tumors which had taken up residence in her lungs and granted her a little more time.

Now, two years after she began her treatment, Hazel feels as though her whole life is spent in the after. After cancer, after high school, after friends, after normal life. And she isn't even certain how long that after will last. There's no knowledge about the effects of her miracle drug. She lives in a state of uncertainty because the tumors could come back at any time.

So, perpetually tethered to her oxygen tank and at the desire of her mother, Hazel attends a teenaged cancer support group. This is where Augustus (Gus) Waters limps into her life. He's handsome, cancer-free, witty, and interested in Hazel in a way she never thought would be possible in her life after.

However, Gus is a much needed addition to her life. He forces her to re-examine how she views her life and her death and what will happen when after is really all there is left.


I really am not sure how to accurately express my feelings on this book. I loved it, that's for sure. But that doesn't seem like it's a strong enough statement for all the things I felt about this story.

I more than read this book, I devoured it. I kept finding myself greedily tearing through the pages just trying to get as much of the story as possible. I underlined a good quarter of the book because the statements were just so touching and humorous and perfect that I needed to keep them for later. And then I would force myself to slow down, take a breath, and appreciate the brilliance of John Green as it was encompassed in these pages.

Honestly? I cannot imagine a better, more poignant handling of a story with cancer at its center. And Green doesn't romanticize the disease either - there's nothing good or enjoyable about the disease. He paints it in all its agonizing, ugly, and devastating truth.

Because this book is not a story about cancer. It's so much more, it's a story about family, love, and inner strength, where cancer, unfortunately, plays a defining role. The lives of the characters in this book are consumed by their disease, but their disease does not define who they are. Cancer is a character just as much as Hazel or Gus. But, it's not a story about cancer by any means.

And Green handles it beautifully and with dignity.

Hazel is honest and real. Yes, her lungs "suck at being lungs" as she reminds the reader, but she is so blatantly real in how she views herself and her disease. She doesn't just accept that she is going to die in some heroic and grandiose gesture. She's afraid - both for herself and those around her. When she admits to overhearing her mother's statement (in reference to Hazel's potential death ) of "I won't be a mom anymore," my heart broke into a million pieces.

And then there's Gus. He is witty and self-absorbed and yet the best friend that anyone could ever ask for. He's plagued by the desire, in the face of his ultimate mortality, to do something, to leave his mark on the world. He brings Hazel out of her after and into her now. He is gritty and raw and just as real and honest about his cancer as Hazel.

I loved how the story centered around An Imperial Affliction and Hazel's search for what happens after the last page is turned. Particularly because I spent the whole book convinced that Green was going to leave us hanging just like Peter Van Houten did in that book. Still, I want to know what happens in this story after the last page is turned. But isn't that kinda how life is? We always seem to be left waiting to see what happens in all of the afters we are presented with.

I cannot thank John Green enough for this book. I was the kid that read all those Lurlene McDaniel books when I was younger. Love stories in the midst of disease and illness. But none of those books could compare with what Green has given us with The Fault in Our Stars.

Yes, this story is heartbreakingly sad (make sure you have some tissues close by) at points, but it is also incredibly uplifting.

This book is one not to be missed.


Title: The Fault in Our Stars (Collector's Edition)
Author: John Green
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Romance, 
Medium: Hardcover, 368pp
Publisher: Penguin Young Reader's Group (1 January 2012 - original edition)
Date Read: 14 August 2013
Source: Purchased @ Barnes & Noble
Recommended For: Middle School +, YA Lovers, 
Challenges: Goodreads

First Line: Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death. 
Favorite Line: What a slut time is. She screws everybody. 
Second Favorite Line: You are so busy being YOU that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are. 
Last Line: I do. [whited out, for spoiler's sake]


  1. i always say this book changed my life and i feel like many people just dont understand that, but i think you do!

  2. I need to read this book! I borrowed it from someone and it is sitting on my shelf, but I just haven't done it yet. Fail, I know :)


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