Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars (without spoilers)

I knew I was going to have to read the book. No one would shut up about it. Not on Twitter or Goodreads or any of the several book blogs I read. And then there was the fact that John Green had co-authored one of my favorite books I’ve read this year, Will Grayson, Will Grayson. So I used a book credit to order The Fault In Our Stars and then I sped through two of the three books I was reading so I could dive in.

And from the first chapter, I was lost. I knew it was going to be a book that wrecked me – the book flap tells you 16-year-old Hazel has a medical miracle to thank for buying her a few extra years, but that her diagnosis has always been terminal. See? Tears coming right there. But then come several more: a “gorgeous plot twist” by the name of Augustus Waters shows up at Hazel’s cancer support group. And even more as they fall in like, in love, and in wit – oh god, the wit! – over the course of the story.

They give you all that on the book flap, right there at the beginning, so you have to figure the strength of the story is in the writing. I mean, they gave youthe story. Not ever nuanced plot twist, but still! Gutsy move – between outlining the book and broadcasting the tone in the title (which was even explained by a character fairly early on), I wondered whether Mr. Green could keep me engaged. Turns out, he could. I fell so much in love with the writing and the characters that fairly danced across the pages that I could have bolted down the book in a single sitting. I didn’t, unfortunately, because I had company show up in the middle of my reading session. And when I picked it up again, I cried so hard through the ending that I had to put the book down for fear of my sinuses actually exploding from all of the sobbing.

I told you it was good.

But I’m not sure I can articulate why – I am not, I will bitterly admit, as talented as Mr. Green. He could tell you why, I am quite sure. Perhaps it was because the book drew such intense feelings of hope, nostalgia, and jealousy. An odd combination, those feelings. Hope that I could be as courageous, that such people exist as those who dwell in our imaginations, that I never have to face the horrible situations as those forced on Hazel and Augustus’s parents. Nostalgia for the feelings of falling in like with someone, those first exploring tendrils of excitement and ohmygod, you too?!s, and constant demands for moremoremore. Nostalgia for the newness of teenage love, where doubt and confidence are battling for dominance. And yes, jealousy, that whorish emotion that wishes I could write as brilliantly as Mr. Green, that I could have such friends as our protagonists, that men such as Augustus Waters really did exist.

To create a 300-page novel that could provoke such feelings without skating into the place where you tsk the obviousness and false construct – that is a novel I will gladly lose an entire afternoon (and evening) to, even if I’m going to use an entire box of tissues and suffer a sinus headache for my troubles. The characters in Fault in Our Stars question at several points whether it’s worth it, this crazy beautiful, painful life. They say yes, unequivocally. I agree; knowing Hazel, Augustus, their friends and families is indeed worth every tear.

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2 Responses to “Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars (without spoilers)”

  1. The Books of 2012: YA and Children’s Lit. « Stacked Says:

    […] this book was one of the very best books I read all year. Go read my full, spoiler-free review here. 5 of 5 […]

  2. The Books of 2012: YA and Children’s Lit. « Can’t Get There From Here Says:

    […] this book was one of the very best books I read all year. Go read my full, spoiler-free review here. 5 of 5 […]

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