I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. The John Green novels I have read have been great, but the ones I haven’t hold no interest for me. This one fell into the latter category for a long time. I didn’t want to read it for the same reasons I refuse to read “A Child Called It”. I knew what it was about and I had no interest in subjecting myself to that. The Fault In Our Stars is about cancer and dying from cancer as teenagers. As a person who has a serious ambition to live forever, this did not draw my particular interest. However, they’re making it into a movie, and that’s a pretty damn good way to get me to read the book, especially first.
Listen to the warnings anyone gives about this book. You will laugh, and cry, and scream right along with the characters. It is a roller coaster of emotions that keeps you coming back for more, even if it is ever so slightly predictable. Simple plot aside, the depth of characters allows the book to have very few main characters and be more powerful than a book with a full ensemble.
Hazel Grace and August Waters are star crossed lovers who have a date with death. They meet in support group because they both have had entanglements with cancer. They are living but have very different viewpoints on living. However, they both have agreed on one thing. This one thing is a made up book that John Green implanted that is more powerful than any of the ones he himself has written. With quotes like “Some infinities are bigger than other infinities,” how can it not be profound and life changing? One problem, it ends in the middle of a sentence and has no sequel. The characters begin a desperate trip to figure out its epilogue. This leads them to Amsterdam, unsavory characters, and life changing moments.
Story telling like this is only fitting in a teen fiction novel. Teenagers have an ability to sound like adults but still feel things with a raw intensity that overloads any reader. They are both stereotypically more mature than most kids their age (16 and 17), and spend much of their time discussing grand themes. However, it’s a series of obituaries that end up being the most powerful element of the book, not the deep discussions about love or heaven. Only a teenager could say something so powerful that it can only be read in an obituary.
The Fault in Our Stars is quite amazing. I wanted to interject some pithy and thought provoking quip like “it touches your soul” but nothing would do it justice. The book isn’t a book I’ll read again, or even one I will readily suggest other people read. But, this book is a powerful and exciting book. A book that, if I had a kid fighting life (or fighting for life), I would hand to. People who struggle with life or death should read it. People who are completely balanced should read it. People should read it once and continue on, because that’s what August Waters and Hazel Grace would say. Reading it several times might trick you into believing a reality existed after the words stopped, and sometimes it’s better to live.