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on September 5, 2016
I'm not usually one for young adult fiction, but this book absolutely fantastic. It reaches deep inside of me. It’s a story of a quiet tragedy, love, and an undeniable reality. Hazel and Augustus face mortality and so many of the meaningless details of life. It forces them to face who they really truly are. How would they carry on... Terminal disease gives you fear, for yourself, for your loved ones. It causes pain that you are the reason to make your family feel worried and cry at night. Green wrote this sad, tragic, yet beautiful story, it brings tears to my eyes.
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on January 13, 2012
Reading this book will possibly be one of the most masochistic things that you will ever do. This is because it is going to cause you real, visceral pain. You are going to cry. I say this as someone who never, ever cries at books, and yet this book brought me to tears. I don't know if I will ever be able to reread this, because it affected me so deeply the first time around that I don't know if I could handle another time. I think the closer you are to the issues in the book, the more it it is going to make you feel. This might be the only place that I would say to exercise caution, because this is not a book where all the problems and sadness are neatly wrapped up by the end. It ends on an incredibly satisfying note, but it is not a happy ending, and so if your life has been closely impacted by cancer at some point then this book might be a little too close to the issue, if this book had come out a couple of years ago I think I might not have been able to read it.

It's not all sadness, though. It also made me laugh out loud, and I got so incredibly invested in the characters that their futures were, for a brief time, intertwined with my own. I cared about what happened to them, on a level that most books can only hope to achieve. The prose is beautiful and incredibly intelligent, like John's other books you feel like you're learning something every time you turn the page. The characters are so witty and wonderful that I wish they really existed in my life.

I was a little bit wary going in, because of all the hype and the way the Nerdfighter community tends to place John's books on such a high pestle that it's amazing he can continuously top the previous ones. This one lives up to everything, though. I think it's his best one yet, because at the heart of everything it made me feel something, and that quality is one that not many other books have been able to attain. I feel emotionally tired after reading it, and it almost seems like it made me a better person on some level.

This book is going to change you. It's breathtaking and heartbreaking and desperately witty, all at the same time, and you should definitely read it. You'll come out of it a different person than when you started it.
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on July 25, 2016
The best stories are about memory.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is quite possibly the best standalone novel I have ever read and is certainly the most phenomenal book I’ve had the privilege to experience in the year 2013. It is my third favorite story and favorite non-fantasy novel. The title comes from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and it sets the perfect tone for this story written in the first person by Hazel, a sixteen year old girl in the regressive stage of lung cancer who nevertheless is required to cart around an oxygen tank because (as she so perfectly puts it) her “lungs suck at being lungs.” Her mother forces her to go to a cancer patient/survivor group where she proceeds to exercise her considerable teenage snark and wit along with her friend Isaac who is suffering from a type of cancer that eventually requires the removal of an eye.

One day Hazel catches the attention of a boy named Augustus and their romance is as breathtaking and expedient as it is completely genuine and uncontrived. Augustus has recovered from bone cancer that left him with a prosthetic leg, but did nothing to diminish his spirit. She can scarcely believe he’s as perfect as he projects and indeed feels as though she’s found his hamartia or fatal flaw when he puts a cigarette in his mouth. Hazel is of course livid that anyone who survived cancer would willingly place themselves into its way again, but Augustus never lights them using the act as a metaphor of having “the killing thing right between your teeth, but you not giving it the power to do its killing.”

Both of them together have enough wit and snark to drown the world in metaphors and sarcasm with just the barest dash of bitterness for their plight. Hazel whom Augustus calls “Hazel Grace” for most of the novel feels incredibly guilty that she’s allowed Augustus to fall for her as she and her family expect her cancer to return full force at any moment, and yet their relationship parallels the ever moving train of her mortality. So much so that Hazel shares with him that her favorite book is a story by the reclusive author Peter Van Houten called An Imperial Affliction.

“My favorite book, by a wide margin, was An Imperial Affliction, but I didn’t like to tell people about it. Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising that affections feels like a betrayal.”

Van Houten’s work is very meta to the larger story at hand being about a girl named Anna who suffers from cancer and her one-eyed mother who grows tulips. But Hazel makes it very clear that this is not a cancer book in the same way that The Fault in Our Stars is not a cancer book. Anna grows progressively sicker and her mother falls in love with a Dutch Tulip Man who has a great deal of money and exotic ideas about how to treat Anna’s cancer, but just when the DTM and Anna’s mom are about to possibly get married and Anna is about to start a new treatment, the book ends right in the middle of a-

Exactly.

This drives Hazel and eventually Augustus up the wall to not know what happened to everyone from Anna’s hamster Sisyphus to Anna herself. Hazel assumes that Anna became too sick to continue writing (the assumption being that her story was first person just as Hazel’s is), but for Van Houten to not have finished it seems like the ultimate literary betrayal.

As terrified as Hazel was to share this joy with Augustus (and god knows I understand that feeling) it was the best thing she could’ve done because they now share the obsession and the insistence that the characters deserve an ending.

The conversations of Hazel and Augustus are not typical teenage conversations, but they’re not typical teenagers. Mortality flavors all of their discussions and leads to elegance such as

“The tales of our exploits will survive as long as the human voice itself. And even after that, when the robots recall the human absurdities of sacrifice and compassion, they will remember us.”

They speak of memory and calculate how there are fourteen dead people for everyone alive and realize that remembering fourteen people isn’t that difficult. We could all do that if we tried that way no one has to be forgotten. But will we then fight over who we are allowed to remember? Or will the fourteen just be added to those we can never forget? They read each other the poetry of T.S Eliot, the haunting lines of Prufrock,

“We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Til human voices wake us, and we drown.”

And as Augustus reads Hazel her favorite book she

“…fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

The quotes from this story are among the most poignant and beautiful I have ever seen.

“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”

“There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.”

When I finished this I thought to myself, “How am I going to read anything else? How will I find something to match this? How can I pick up another book and not expect it to resonate with this haunting beauty, this tragedy ringed with comic teenage snark and tones that are themselves tragic in their sarcasm like whistling in the ninth circle of hell or laughing uproariously at the monster?” I realized I was lost. I could think of no negative critique unless you count the fact that the two main characters have Dawson’s Creek Syndrome where they’re teenagers who speak as if they were philosophers, but then again Bill Watterson did the same thing with a boy and a stuffed tiger.

You realize the story’s hamartia doesn’t matter. That the fact that the plot may be cliched is unimportant and that dwelling on such trivialities is in and of itself a fatal flaw. This story is so much more than the letters and words on each page. It’s the triumph of morning over night when the night grows ever longer. It’s the dream of hope when you’ve done nothing but dine on despair. It is sad? Yes. It is heartbreaking? More so. Is it worth reading? Has anything sad and heartbreaking not been worth reading? The story of Hazel and Augusts deserves to be read just as the story of Anna, her mother, and dear hamster Sisyphus deserves an ending, and that becomes their exploit to seek out reclusive Peter Van Houten so that the characters can be properly laid to rest and remembered.

The best stories are about memory.
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on August 22, 2016
This is, like the title says, the best book. Sure it had some profanity and being only 12 this was the first book that had content like that one part 67% through on page 206 in the hotel. (I really am trying to make this review spoiler free but it is so hard) this book was a good distraction from what was happening at the time. We had lived in the Midwest for 4 years and, because my dad is militarily, had to move to Hawaii. I had to leave all the friends I had made behind. I knew nobody and nobody knew me. This book was a really good distraction from the sadness of leaving all that you know behind and having to start all over. When I got to the sad part of the book, I was doing some late-night reading. We all shared a hotel room so I tried not to cry. It was hard. On the outside I kept a straight face, but on the inside I was bawling my eyes out. :°)
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.
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on November 14, 2015
Why do any of us ever stop reading Young Adult (YA) novels? When my 13-year old daughter made me promise to read The Fault in Our Stars, I shrugged, agreed, and threw it on the pile with all the other books I have promised to read, knowing it would be a while given that my have to list numbers in the double dozens. She kept after me though, and her relentlessness paid off. The Fault in our Stars by John Green, a lovely piece of literature, posing as a YA novel and named Time’s Best Fiction book of 2012 (where’ve I been?), is loaded with rich and fertile subject matter akin to great literary works. Yet while epic life and death themes wax and wane throughout, TFioS retains all those things sacred to teens like swaggy dialogue and biting wit along with the occasional teen tantrum. Result? Texture and comedic relief temper the grand emotions sweeping through this book like so many divergent currents. Hazel Grace Lancaster is dying. She’s been the cancer kid for a few years now, always on the verge of checking out since her lungs seem uninterested in doing the single job to which they have been assigned: providing air to the rest of her body. In Hazel’s world, everyone she meets suffers from some Herculean illness so her life seems not so bad, considering. At a Support Group meeting in the Literal Heart of Jesus (you’ll see), she meets hunky Augustus Waters and his friend Isaac. Augustus has a touch of cancer himself, but is currently NEC (no evidence of cancer). One thing leads to another and then, badda-bing, badda-bang, Hazel and Augustus are hanging out. I can’t say dating because Hazel holds back, knowing she’s going to die soon, and not wanting to bring anyone else down with her; she’s already suffering tremendously over the fact that her pit crew -- mom and dad -- will be out of a parenting job once Hazel’s checked out. Augustus, clever, hot Augustus doesn’t take no for an answer and wins Hazel over with a variety of his many charms and abilities, the most important being making contact with Hazel’s favorite author, Peter Van Houten, who wrote her favorite novel, An Imperial Affliction. Hazel’s own life seems inextricably interwoven with AIA and she is determined to find out the fate of the characters after the heroine dies, leaving the book in mid-sentence, and the rest of the characters to an unwritten fate. Hazel has written to Van Houten repeatedly, practically begging for answers. Knowing may help disentangle some of her tightly strung parts, or maybe she just wants to know for the sake of knowing. But Van Houten’s not talking until Augustus emails Van Houten’s assistant and receives a response. Perhaps because of his touch of cancer, Augustus is one of those rare teens who asks the hard questions such as what does oblivion feel like and how can I avoid it? He realizes what so many of us go to great lengths to avoid -- the knowledge that all life is loss, since even the most fabulous ones end in death and oblivion, so get used to it. The pair travel to Amsterdam using Augustus’s long-unused “wish” (despite his view that “life is not a wish-granting factory”) to meet Van Houten who turns out to be a prick of the highest caliber. It all works out in the end if you consider death a method of working it out. The book is sad, but never mopey and triumphant in a, “yes, oblivion is still waiting around the corner, but deal with it,” kind of way, which is okay, because what I hear Green saying is that even in death there are tremendous amounts of life at stake. Books like TFioS hold the key to the silly, unnerving, unrelenting and magnificent universe without even knowing it, reminding me how I felt as a kid: idealistic and invincible with all the answers. Reading it will bring back all those important, self-aware notions you thought you’d left behind years ago, and give you a fresh clear lens with which to look at them. Oh, and it will help you not forget to be awesome.
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on April 29, 2016
I don't think I've ever seen another book on Amazon that already has more than 37,000 reviews! The book has definitely moved many people to report their feelings after finishing the book. You cannot read a book about teenagers with cancer without getting emotionally involved. We know from the start that Hazel, who has thyroid cancer that has metastasized to her lungs, isn't expected to survive. She is on a drug that has slowed the deterioration of her lungs and has to drag an oxygen canister around with her. The third paragraph of the book states that "depression is a side effect of dying." Hazel's mother has insisted that she go to a weekly Support Group, which is where she meets Augustus (Gus) who is in remission after having lost a leg to osteosarcoma. They start to hang out together and bond over the shared love of a bizarre novel titled "An Imperial Affliction". I love the witty dialogue between these two teenagers. They have faced impossible struggles but still have a zest for life, and an ability to see the humor in every situation.

Hazel really wants to meet the author of the book, who lives in Amsterdam, and Gus offers to use his cancer kid Wish to take her there. They meet the author, who is a sad old alcoholic who treats them horribly. Hazel is infuriated that he treats them so badly, but she and Gus go on to have a lovely time in Amsterdam nevertheless. Though she'll never get to know the answers to her questions about the book, Gus has given her a memorable experience, and has become the love of her very short life. The sad news builds up after this, and as Gus states more than once "the world is not a wish-granting factory."

If ever there was a book to remind each of us to live in the moment, it's this one.
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My thoughts at 25%:
I'm so confused. Why is this book hilarious, with all its witty banter and thoughtful philosophy? Shouldn't I be crying over the depth of the subject matter? Shouldn't I be feeling broken by the abject loss of the power of death - the way it's so all-consuming and doesn't care who it touches or who it hurts? How is it that I keep smiling this delighted smile and laughing gleefully over the way these characters find joy in spite of their suffering? Maybe it's the irony of Hazel's cynicism, I don't know.

My thoughts at 50%:
Okay. The end of Chapter 10? I can't stop crying. Augustus is funny and smart and intellectually stimulating. He's quick and clever and patient and gentle. But he's also a little bit of a smartass and he's impossibly fun. It's brutally endearong, especially combined with Hazel's matter of fact personality, her acceptance of life as what it is and not what she wishes it was. My emotions are so raw right now ... I need a break from the story ... And yet I cannot force myself to take one.

My thoughts at 75%:
I wear glasses because chronic dry eye syndrome gives me progressively horrifying eye fatigue, which blurs everything more and more the longer the day goes on. But right now I'm reading with my glasses off, and everything is a blur, because I can't wear glasses while crying.

My thoughts at 100%:
I finished this book somewhat disappointed. I didn't cry my way through the end, as I had expected to. But I read that last word, closed it out, and promptly burst into tears. For its appreciation of both life AND death, for its humor AND its realistic portrayal of devastation, for its twists AND its inevitable turns ... For its lessons and its inspiration ... Five stars.
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on May 6, 2017
I have been following the Vlogbrothers, John & Hank Green for about a year new on YouTube but this is the first of John's books that I have read. Now that I know what I have been missing, there will be more It is a little weird being familiar with an author's voice, appearance and mannerisms from one source then apprehending how that transitions to the pages of a novel. John succeeded in developing characters that resonated deeply and broadly with me. That made becoming strongly attached to them easy and gratifying, and missing them now that they're gone that much more difficult. It is a condition I relish and dread and find to be the sure sign of good fiction...that the people I'm reading about seem so real and their circumstances so genuine that their lives intertwine with mine as I read. There is great sadness to be confronted and dealt with in this book, but it is redeemed by by the simple yet graceful humanity of the people through whom it comes. Not a moment of the time invested in reading this book felt wasted. And the John Green I have grown fond of was in there with me, winking occasionally with the turn of a phrase or the mention of a concept that sounded familiar. His company was sincerely appreciated.
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My 14 year-old granddaughter recommended this book to me and at first I was a little leery of reading a young adult book. However, within the first ten pages I was hooked - complete hook, line, and sinker. I could think of nothing else but reading this book. I am on a cruise now and none of the activities could keep my mind off this book - it is that good.

Hazel Grace is a teenager with metastasized thyroid cancer with metastasis in her lungs. She must use an oxygen tank all day and a BiPAP machine all night. Augustus Waters has Osteosarcoma and has just had a leg amputated. They meet in a cancer support group and he falls for Hazel at first sight. At first, Hazel keeps her distance from Gus, but it doesn't take her long to fall under his spell. He is, after all, a hunk.

The both of them are enamored of a book called An Imperial Infliction written by one Peter Houten. The book is about a teenager with cancer. It ends with a cliff hanger and they really want to know what happens after the puzzling ending. Augustus uses his one wish wish with the Genies Foundation to ask for a trip to Amsterdam where Mr. Houten resides. Miraculously, he gets his wish. Unfortunately, the meeting with Mr. Houten is less than ideal. Fortunately, the trip serves to increase the love and intimacy between Gus and Hazel.

Grace and Gus are both very intelligent and philosophical people. As Hazel says about Gus, "To be with him was to hurt him - inevitably." His last girlfriend died from a brain tumor and Grace is fearful that she will die and leave Gus in spiritual pain. Hazel is always breathless because of the mets in her lungs. She is in constant pain as well. If she doesn't use her oxygen, " after about ten seconds, my lungs feel like they're folding in upon themselves like flowers at dusk.: She must have her lungs drained frequently. "The pain was always there, pulling me inside myself, demanding to be felt."

Hazel feels outside the realm of ordinary people, the world of the well. As she says, "The physical evidence of disease separates you from other people. We are irreconcilable other." Gus is not obviously ill on the outside but Hazel carries around her oxygen tank everywhere she goes. Since her illness she'd never considered a normal lifespan. "I'd never been anything but terminal; all my treatment had been in pursuit of extending my life, not curing my cancer." Gus has an 85% cure rate after his leg amputation but, like most survivors of cancer, lives in constant fear of a recurrence. As Hazel says, "My final chapter was written upon diagnosis. Gus, like most cancer survivors, lived with uncertainty." Hazel sees herself as a 'grenade'. Once she explodes with her cancer, all those around her will be harmed.

One might think that a novel about two teenagers with cancer would be depressing. This is not the case with this book. Yes, it is powerful, has its sad and poignant moments, but it is uplifting and wonderfully life affirming. It is an amazing book, one that is for everyone. I am so glad that I read it. I will remember it always.
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on May 18, 2017
The novel starts out worthwhile and is a noble subject--teens with cancer and how they deal with it. It was refreshing to see a portrayal of cancer patients who do not want to be defined by their cancers, yet the author then spends the rest of the book ONLY describing their actions and thoughts through the prism of cancer. It is as if they have no personalities outside of their view of cancer. Next, the philosophy becomes too much. I don't mind that we are supposed to suspend disbelief and allow ourselves to be convinced that teenagers can be this profound, or anyone for that matter. The real issue became that every character was essentially the same. They all had the ability to spout out complicated philosophical concepts from the top of their heads. The father is portrayed as a dope until he goes on a long diatribe about the universe. Hazel seems at first to be a regular spunky teen, but then starts talking philosophical about her breakfast foods. Augustus doesn't have any thoughts other than deep meaning philosophical rants. It got to be too much. Also, I have been through the cancer battle and can tell you that being around terminal cancer does not make a person more profound or philosophical, but rather more thoughtful about priorities and what matters. I feel as if the author exploited the topic of cancer as just a way of getting readers to feel better about a very flat love story--because there is no understanding of why these two people supposedly love each other. Their characters are not developed outside of cancer. Also, anytime there was a chance to deal with cancer in a realistic and non-snarky way I believe the author went the other way, I am assuming because he or the editor felt it would sell more books if it followed a formula. The formula is no different than any cheesy romantic movie, and the cancer element is supposed to make it deeper. If the characters really were deep, then their emotions would run the gamut when confronted with the harshest reality of life (death) -- there would be denial, humor, sadness, joy, and disappointment. Hazel and Augustus were essentially the same person -- too cool for school and life, while everyone around them was a dope or insensitive. Even the mom, which was the most prominent adult character, is very one dimensional. The last thing I would say is that cancer causes people to really question God, the universe, and purpose in life. Every time the book could have really addressed those issues in a teenage, even philosophical way, it chose to go the way of pretentious, snarky, philosophical rants which only someone reading right from an intellectual book would be able to spout out. If the characters even seemed a little bit genuine the book could have been so good.
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