Sunday, 27 January 2013

book review: the fault in our stars by john green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Genre: Contemporary YA
Rating: 6/10
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, 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.

This book was fine. I didn't love it, I don't hate it, I'll send my copy to my sister... It made me laugh, Hazel was a fine protagonist and it's a romance between teens with cancer so safe to say it tapped the emotions. Beyond that though, I was pretty apathetic.

My biggest problem was that there was little that surprised me: the plot ran the way you expected it to, there was little controversial in its themes or messages, and the 'insightful' quotes have been all over Tumblr since the book was published which undermined their emotional punch.

The only thing that did surprise me (and my favourite thing in the book) were the discussions about stories and the nature of fiction. The themes of heroism and quotes about infinities were nice enough but the section that intrigued me most was the meeting with Van Houten in Amsterdam. I was really disappointed that he resurfaced later in the book for it undermined his whole 'message'.
We are speaking of a novel, dear child, not a historical enterprise....this childish idea that the author of a novel has some special insight into characters in the's ridiculous. That novel was composed of scratches on a page, dear. The characters inhabiting it have no life outside of those scratches. What happened to them? They all ceased to exist the moment the novel ended.
Get rid of the cancer deaths etc. and write me a YA book with this interaction at its heart. One of these days I'll be able to talk about His Dark Materials and how, in my opinion, 'Tell them stories' is one of the greatest ideas in children's literature. Until then give me children's/teen lit which discusses the importance of stories, how reading is a two-way process and how the stories we create for ourselves are just as important as the one's we're presented with.

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