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127 of 164 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Fault Is In The Plot Device, January 15, 2012
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This review is from: The Fault in Our Stars (Hardcover)
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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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 15, 2012 12:14:38 PM PST
Creating a 3D Animated CGI Short: The Making of the Autiton Archives Fault Effect - Pilot Webisode
Even though your review was on the 'negative' side of Amazon's review area, I am going to read this book because I like the way YOU express yourself and write :-)

Posted on Jan 19, 2012 3:37:22 AM PST
rawrrr says:
SPOILERS AHEAD... i felt the same way about the van houten character. i i loved the setup of him, which brought gus and hazel together, but hated the his last appearance in the book- it just seemed unreal...and if it were in a movie, it would be more like a dream sequence or daydream, than reality...i get that the author was trying to show how there is no true bad guy in life by giving van houten a third act, but it was definitely one of those moments where i had trouble suspending reality long enough to enjoy what was happening....the same feeling i feel when in a bad romance comedy. 'this would never happen' just keeps repeating over and over in my head. i also can definitely see some people thinking the ending was overly sappy or melodramatic.
nonetheless, i gave it 5 stars because it was a good, fast read that made me both laugh and cry.

Posted on Jan 20, 2012 12:36:04 PM PST
C. Scheller says:

I kind of agree with you. I really enjoyed the book, but I think it would have flowed a bit better if Van Houten had stayed in Holland. Or maybe had come to the funeral and they talked there, but it was a bit elongated when she blew him off after the funeral, he came back, and then she blew him off again.

But since getting to Holland wasn't the ONLY reason Gus and Hazel were friends, it wasn't that big of a deal. If, for instance, they were complete strangers who just so happened to be obsessed with the same book (without Hazel having introduced Augustus to it), then I think it would have been a bit cliche and annoying. And I liked that she still didn't really forgive him. She understood him a bit better, but it was still just like, "Get out."

Posted on Feb 3, 2012 6:37:44 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 3, 2012 6:56:13 AM PST
A. Gaskin says:
Van Houten was a metaphor for the Dutch Tulip Man, a.k.a. John Green's idea of God. Mr Green's Captial-S Something is an egotistical genius who can set an amazing story in motion, but isn't involved with how the story ends, who also happens to bear the emotional effect of having his only child die.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2012 3:41:45 PM PST
IrisRose says:
Houton's reappearance worked for me. What would have been false would be Hazel's forgiving him and the two of them finding Houton's lost humanity together. This was much more honest. It is to Hazel's credit that in the final scene with Houton, she sees him for the desperate creature that he is, but still, there is no false epiphicanal (my new stupid word) re-engagement with him. Yeah, for me this plot device works, although I do recognize it as such.

Posted on May 4, 2012 8:04:24 AM PDT
Fergie says:
Great review--the things you say are positives about the book are precisely what I loved about it. What you say about regarding a few lines of dialogue bringing the reader to tears is SO true! There were a few simple lines that just were a stab in the heart for me. I really liked this book and am curious to check out other books Green has written. I really felt he captured the essence of a matured teen.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 10, 2012 8:51:44 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 10, 2012 8:53:27 AM PDT
rewired says:
Although I do agree, now that I read what other people have to say about him, I understand what they're saying. Even though he's not a main character, I believe that he is important to the plot. If he wasn't in the book, the plot wouldn't have the same effect on me. I think of Van Houten as the Mean Girl in a cliché school movie. He is the one who you just would like to punch in the face. And you really do need that in a plot! I haven't read a book like this in many years. And, any "book like this" is amazing. So when I read all of these people's complaints, i understand them but i am against them and for Van Houten.

In reply to Iris Rose

Posted on Aug 17, 2012 12:25:38 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 17, 2012 12:27:01 PM PDT
E. Smyth says:
I cannot agree with Mathheu regarding the character of Van Houten.

Yes, he's inferior to the three central and fully-formed characters in the book. He comes off as a two-dimensional archetype, an eccentric, misanthropic alcoholic author who hurts people right and left for no obvious purpose.

But a careful reader will see that Van Houten's purpose, beyond providing plot-advancing devices, is to a) articulate a darker human reaction to both life and death, as well as perhaps the selfish frustrations often felt by those who've had to live with the terminally ill; and b) illustrate some people's instinct to fetishize misery and protect it from all outside threats.

Posted on May 15, 2013 10:12:46 AM PDT
J. Blake says:
I agree with your review, and I didn't like VanHouton story line either, but I think of his role slightly different. To me he represents a teenagers ideal gone really bad. After all he wrote an awesome book and he just had to be awesome himself, right? His refusal to travel just adds to that mystery. But when they discover he is a grade-A jerk, they get an insight into reality that they had been side stepping via this book they are obsessed with. This obsession gave them an "out" from their own reality of cancer. If someone you love so dearly dies from the disease you have the choice to let it emotionally kill you or move forward and let it build onto your character. VanHouton and Hazel takes two separate paths.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 21, 2014 8:35:19 PM PDT
Miranda Lou says:
J. Blake,
Great analysis! How insightful, I learned a lot from your comment.
I didn't think anything could make me desire to read this. Sorry to
add that Van Hooten' s path I found too irresistible. Hope this book helps others to find Hazel' s path no matter how hard they have to fight to find it;
enjoy life, embrace it, and not make mistakes when they
are given the choice and ; follow Hazel and move forward.
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