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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Fault in Our Stars
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64 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2014
Format: Paperback
I don't often write reviews, but I felt compelled to write a negative review of this book as I am very disappointed by it. I don't quite understand why anyone would rate this book a positive rating, unless most of the positive reviews are from teenagers who think it is a work of genius simply because of the use of big words, shallow romance, and (psuedo)-intellectualism.

Given all the hype surrounding it, I expected "The Fault in Our Stars" to draw me in and keep me interested throughout each page, instead, the book is flat, emotionless, and unenjoyable. The characters are unrealistic and are extremely pretentious to the point of annoyance. I have never encountered a teenager who speaks the way they do -- their level of maturity and philosophical outlook is well above and beyond their years. It sounds more like the author himself speaking through his invented characters, which explains why the main characters all sound the same and are fairly indistinguishable from one another. Interjecting the word, "like" once in a while, and the overuse of the phrase, "or whatever" that the teenage characters repeat incessantly, does not make them seem any more believable, (It only serves to irk and further annoy).

I felt nothing for Hazel or Augustus, as they were quite unlikable. Their "romance" occurs suddenly and without reason and is unconvincing. I also did not feel as though the struggles, pain, and suffering, that someone endures while battling a devastating illness such as cancer, were properly conveyed. It was also difficult to muster any sympathy for the characters or shed a tear for them, (their sarcastic approach to life and to their condition, didn't help in this regard). If you would like to read a better book about a young girl dying from cancer, I recommend "Before I Die," by Jenny Downham. Although not without controversial moments, I feel like Downham's writing effectively conveys, and truly captures the essence and emotions of a dying teenage girl, and the story is much more intense and meaningful than "The Fault in Our Stars," (or whatever).
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52 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I've read all of Green's books. I'm a former English teacher and YA lit lover, so I was expecting great things. I ended up disappointed. The dialogue wasn't authentic; the characters were indistinguishable, and the plot was predictable. The obsession over the Van Hauten book was contrived. The book didn't suck, but it wasn't his best work either. It was just ok.
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127 of 164 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
As a 40 year old male, I'm not ashamed to admit I like John Green's books. In each he seems to capture the essence of adolescence that remains with us into adulthood. In my favorite book, An Abundance of Katherines, Green expertly captures the struggles of a gifted teen in ways that speak to what it is like to be a gifted adult.

It The Fault in Our Stars, Green takes on teenagers facing terminal cancer. Hazel Grace Lancaster is a teen living on borrowed time, with lung cancer and only a short time to live. She meets Augustin "Gus" Waters, a cancer survivor, at a support group and soon they fall in love. They bond over Hazel's favorite book, "An Imperial Affliction", by the fictional Peter Van Houten. The book tells the story of a girl with cancer and ends suddenly when the girl dies, and both Hazel and Gus long to learn what happens next. As their romance blossoms, they conspire to meet Peter Van Houten, who lives in the Netherlands.

While I cannot speak with experience, Green seems to expertly capture the feelings of children with cancer, who are strong not because of some great inner power, but because they have no other choice. Gus and Hazel, and Gus's friend Issac all have authentic voices and relationships with their parents that feel true. There are many times when Green, with a few lines of dialogue, brings tears to your eyes by simply detailing the words kids and parents exchange when faced with such terrible fates.

Where the book falls short to me Peter Van Houten. On the page, he never seems more than a plot device to hinge the book on. While they help set up some wonderful sequences is Holland, the interaction with the character himself seems false, and only a way to setup the twist in the middle of the book and an ending that, without spoiling it, seems overwritten and false.

Still, Green has a wonderful way of capturing the mindset of certain types of teenagers that feels timeless. The Fault In Our Stars is worth the read. Just bring a tissue.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I was very excited to read this book, because it had been so well reviewed. I was very disappointed. I could not emotionally connect with the characters, because they were so unrealistic. Maybe it is because I have dealt with cancer and death in my own family many times that I just don't feel any depth here. Green writes about her breathing tubes and his feeding tubes and how pathetic and sad their situation is, but without actually developing any real chemistry between the leads. It feels like all of the pervasive cancer talk is an attempt at pulling your heart strings, but I feel like I might have been more emotional if more time was spent on their actual relationship as opposed to their diseases. Weak.
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39 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I wanted this book to be better than it was, because I truly do like John Green's writing. 3 stars is as much as I can give it, though, because when all was said and done I was left with an unsatisfied feeling.

Green is a talented writer, and all of his humor and wit and biting commentary are in good form throughout this book. My main gripe was with the characters he created. I'm all for smart kids. I also understand the point of bringing across the sort of growth and emotional maturity one must come into when faced with a terminal illness. Still, these teenagers very rarely felt like teenagers.

These characters often seemed overwraught and almost like caricatures of themselves. During an emergency, our protagonist Hazel dials 9-1-1 and proclaims something like, "The great love of my life Augustus Waters has a malfunctioning g-tube." Really? REALLY? Moments like that brought me out of the story because it's overdone.

I didn't cry but that was probably a bi-product of not feeling particularly attached to the characters. I read a lot about the love between Augustus and Hazel, but it was always flat. It seemed to just be true, because it was written that way. What's more, all of the characters in this book seemed to be copies of each other, especially in the case of the three main kids. What's the personality difference between Augustus and Hazel? What's the difference in their voice? You'd be hard pressed to find one.

It's a good book with nice moments of commentary on life, death and suffering, all when it doesn't get too preachy or too overdone. Not Green's best, but still decent.
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76 of 98 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I didn't like this book.

I had never read a John Green book. I had never even cared to, until my best friend read it, liked it a lot, and recommended it to me. I should probably say that I'm not a fan of Young Adult literature (and neither is she). There are a few exceptions (The Book Thief, notably), so I was more than willing to give this book a go.

As soon as I read the first chapter, I knew I wouldn't like it. I felt that Hazel was too witty, too clever to be a real person. Intelligence does not ruin a character or make them unbelievable, but she says things in a way no real person would.

Worse still was Augustus. I thought Hazel was a bit unrealistic, but I liked her alright. I could not stand Augustus. Everything about him, his name, his method of speech, his looks, annoyed me. He's attractive. He has a unique name. He speaks entirely in pretty metaphors. I hated him more with every single word he spoke. I don't like to throw the label "Mary Sue" around at all, but I'm willing to apply it here.

Everything about this book is pretentious. There's always a trite metaphor, always a poem to quote, always something that reminds me that these are characters in a book, rather than everyday people. John Green can write beautifully, but that beauty overwhelms everything, and the emotion never feels quite real.

This is a shame, because clearly, John Green can write. I loved Hazel's parents (especially her father). They were very real, vulnerable, and human. Their parts of the book were the only bits that made me feel anything except annoyance.

That all said, I can see how people like this book, and it certainly was not the worst book I've ever read. Still, not my cup of tea, and I won't be reading any of his other books.
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36 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I don't understand the great reviews about this book. This book felt empty and a gimmick. The protagonist obsession with that specific simple book and the trip is the biggest gimmick an author could come up with to have a story?! I felt like I was just listening to a conversation from two teenagers and that conversation abruptly ends leaving me cold, frustrated and somewhat angry. There was nothing compelling about this story. I have read many books in English and Spanish and this is the first time I have felt this way about a book...complete emptiness and shocked that so many people fell for this story. I feel this book is for young people who have not experienced real life and real issues.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book when I was on vacation and have read it 2.5 times since then. Every time I read it I like it less and less, to the point that I couldn't finish it the last time.

To preface, I've watched John + Hank's videos for over a year and I really wanted to like this book. I haven't liked any of John's books since LfA, but I'd heard such great reviews that I thought this would be better.

I think this book played on all of the faults in John's writing and this is why I disliked it. To start off, the entire tone of the book, from the narration to dialogue, came off extremely pretentious, to the point of tedium. By my third read-through I was reading several bits of the books in John's voice, because he talks exactly how he writes. Granted, Green is a 35 (?) year old man with an English major, who is very articulate and has an extensive vocabulary. he should have toned it down when writing about two awkward, teenage virgins talking to each other. I think Hazel and Augustus were both guilty of sounding like they were talking like mature, well-read adults. I also found the constant references to other literature inside the book annoying to the point of distraction, especially since it was narrated by a 17 year old girl. Between Fitzgerald, Vonnegut, Shakspeare, the poetry within the book, and the excerpts from "An Imperial Affliction" I felt like it really diluted the believability of the book.
All of the really obvious metaphors rally detracted from the plot. The most obvious ones the come to mind were the unlit cigarette, the bones sculpture in the park, the "ghettoization of breakfast foods", and how An Imperial Affliction doesn't have an ending. However, Green has separately stated that there are other metaphors hidden within the book, such as:
-Hazel's name: Hazel is an "in-between color," just as Hazel herself was "in-between" sickness and health.
-Amsterdam: a city both dependent on water and drowning it in
-When they are on the plane and Augustus' movie ends before Hazel's, it is foreshadowing for his death, which is before hers.
I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting, but these are the few that come to mind.
The choice of a girl narrator was also really distracting. I am roughly the same age as Hazel, and I felt like I couldn't relate to her at all. Obviously, I don't have cancer, but I felt like parts of her narration was really forced. Green's forte is a male voice, but I think he decided to narrate from a girl's point of view to break the pattern of his other books.
Finally, I didn't really find the plot all that intriguing. Van Houten was not a very believable character. (How ironic that his characters are obsessed with finding closure to a novel, when Green himself is famous for ending his book without closure.)
This is still a pretty good book, especially considering it's a YA book. I did cry the first few times I read it (in fact, I practically bawled). I wouldn't recommend this book to friends, and my favorite Green novel is still the debut, Looking for Alaska.
I would love to see John write a novel about older people, even in their twenties. I think he is a good writer, but I've never been able to find any of his character very likeable or believable. John said somewhere that he is under contract to write 4 more books, which is good, because I don't think he's really found his voice as a writer yet.
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169 of 221 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is almost entirely just copy and pasted from an immediate reaction post I made on a friend's Facebook wall, and I would have written a separate review but I think there are already more than enough for everyone to see why they need to read it.
"I think I need to reread it; I know I sped through some parts too fast to fully appreciate them. It was...more than I expected, already, though.
For a few days, I was kind of secretly anxious as hell. When I got it and actually held it in my hand, I was really excited but also afraid it wouldn't live up to the seemingly unfair hype we gave it. I mean, we didn't know that much about it anyway. He had an idea of who two of the characters were. We knew what the cover looked like. We knew it'd be autographed.
We just had faith in this fantastic writer. And....it was well-placed. I laughed, I cried, I was cliche as anything. Whatever man. It was a profoundly /good/ book, and the characters were remarkable, and I can say with no hesitation that it was the best book that I have read in a very very long time, and definitely the best he has published, ever. I hope to see students studying these in English someday. And I'll be damned if it doesn't earn him the right to attach more stickers to the book covers, this time shiny and metallic and very very award-y."
Buy it. It's fantastic.
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45 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I read this because of the good ratings. I found it poorly written, with characters unlikable and unbelievable. I was a high school counselor and never had students who spoke in such stilted dialogue. Plot was predictable and I never shed a tear. I finally started speed reading the book and was happy when it was over. If this is an example of good young adult reading then I feel sorry for the intellectual future of our youth. Maybe all the zombies in the movies they watch have infected their brains.
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