27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Good, not great,
This review is from: The Fault in Our Stars (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.