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The Fault in Our Stars Hardcover – January 10, 2012
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2012: In The Fault in Our Stars, John Green has created a soulful novel that tackles big subjects--life, death, love--with the perfect blend of levity and heart-swelling emotion. Hazel is sixteen, with terminal cancer, when she meets Augustus at her kids-with-cancer support group. The two are kindred spirits, sharing an irreverent sense of humor and immense charm, and watching them fall in love even as they face universal questions of the human condition--How will I be remembered? Does my life, and will my death, have meaning?--has a raw honesty that is deeply moving. --Seira Wilson
*Starred Review* At 16, Hazel Grace Lancaster, a three-year stage IV–cancer survivor, is clinically depressed. To help her deal with this, her doctor sends her to a weekly support group where she meets Augustus Waters, a fellow cancer survivor, and the two fall in love. Both kids are preternaturally intelligent, and Hazel is fascinated with a novel about cancer called An Imperial Affliction. Most particularly, she longs to know what happened to its characters after an ambiguous ending. To find out, the enterprising Augustus makes it possible for them to travel to Amsterdam, where Imperial’s author, an expatriate American, lives. What happens when they meet him must be left to readers to discover. Suffice it to say, it is significant. Writing about kids with cancer is an invitation to sentimentality and pathos—or worse, in unskilled hands, bathos. Happily, Green is able to transcend such pitfalls in his best and most ambitious novel to date. Beautifully conceived and executed, this story artfully examines the largest possible considerations—life, love, and death—with sensitivity, intelligence, honesty, and integrity. In the process, Green shows his readers what it is like to live with cancer, sometimes no more than a breath or a heartbeat away from death. But it is life that Green spiritedly celebrates here, even while acknowledging its pain. In its every aspect, this novel is a triumph. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Green’s promotional genius is a force of nature. After announcing he would sign all 150,000 copies of this title’s first print run, it shot to the top of Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s best-seller lists six months before publication. Grades 9-12. --Michael Cart
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This book has gotten negative reviews based on several points:
1) This is from another reviewer: "The characters are not believable. They do not speak like teenagers. They do not even handle situations like teenagers do. So many interactions between Gus and Hazel are interactions which, plain and simple, just would not happen between real, emotional, scared, awkward, virgin teenagers, let alone ones with cancer who have been socially cut off for much of their lives."
*My point-of-view: Have you spent time with any of us? They are believable as teen-age cancer patients/survivors. We may look like teen-agers, but in our heads, we are not. We have had to face our own mortality and make choices we should never have to make. It makes us grow up...quickly. Most of us do not act or speak like teen-agers because that is no longer how we think. After treatment, many of us find the things most teens (and sometimes adults) are worried about are trivial. Society cuts us off, but we are not cut off from each other. These types of interactions do happen. And, it is emotional and scary, but we learn to tell it like it is, without the normal fluff and awkwardness. We find 'normal' where we can and try to live every single day we have because we know that time is an illusion.
2) The parents are not real, not deep characters, and they do not have their own identities.
*My point-of-view: I have seen my own parents (and siblings) and the parents of other friends struggle with this. Many times, they do not have their own identities anymore. Every single minute is spent trying to make it to the next! They try to keep the family together and functioning, in spite of the effects of treatment, fevers and midnight trips to the emergency room, 3 weeks of the month spent in isolation, jobs in jeopardy, birthdays and holidays interrupted, not to mention talks that parents never want to have with their child. I've talked to my mom about this. This becomes their identity. My mom said their jobs become about doing whatever it takes, travelling all over the country (which is very common), researching new studies, and new medicines, all to help us survive and thrive with grace and dignity. It is also their job to prepare, if treatments don't work, to help us die with just as much grace and dignity.
I hope everyone can read this with an open mind and an open heart. Then, reach out to the patients and survivors in your communities. They are wise beyond their years, funny, brave and inspiring.
This was also one of the funniest books I'd ever read. I highlighted everything funny, so when I came beck to the book I can look through the notes and laugh till my chest hurts. The the storyline is pretty good, too.
Augustus brings life to the unfortunate situation of Hazel who has had cancer since her teens, and basically has been living an absentee life ever since. With his introduction comes introductions to love, true friendship, and even heartbreak, not all hers mind you.
The main issue with this book, is it doesn't seem to really get good until the end, and then the climax happens and it's over. Though it's good enough to keep you interested and reading, it doesn't capture you like a Perks of Being a Wallflower type book where you fall for damn near every character. It very much hits its highs when Augustus is around, and then drops and plateaus when he is absent. Not to say Hazel makes a bad lead, it's just she is like Batman or Louie on FX. It is her associates and how she interacts with them that keep her story interesting, not Hazel herself. She without the rest of them isn't worth the $10 or so dollars I paid for this.
Or rather, I should say: Without Augustus, Isaac, and their stories, this would probably be a boring book about a kid with cancer in which you could easily imagine seeing her fight to the very end. Luckily, as the character wanted, cancer isn't what fully defines Hazel and the rest of the characters we meet; instead, it drives the book forward and allows us to see past pity for people, not even 18, who have already had to fight for their lives and allows us to remember, even those we see as sickly were once considered well. And even if their bodies are sick, that doesn't mean they deserve to be treated as if they are incapable of having lives and making decisions. Cancer, and any ailment really, is just something they live with and just as you wish to follow your dreams and aspirations, so do they. The only difference between them and the currently un-sick is: they are more aware of their mortality.
Overall, though not the best book I've ever read, it was good enough for me to purchase a 2nd book by author John Green. The Fault in Our Stars may not be a literary classic which will surely become part of our children's or children's children's reading lists, but it remains to be a good read definitely worth spending time with during your commute or during your downtime.