The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (spoiler-free review)

Book cover picture. Source: Wikipedia

Book cover picture. Source: Wikipedia

John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars was named after a famous quote from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,/But in ourselves, that we are underlings” (Act I, Scene II, Lines 140-141). Not only does John Green have the guts to contradict Shakespeare, but he is right, and the title is perfect for the story within the covers. The fault is in our stars, our universe, that life is not more fair; without pain, suffering and disease. As he writes through Hazel, the protagonist of the novel, the universe has an insatiable desire to make and then unmake what it has made. However, it is important to remember this quote:

“The truth resists simplicity.” ~ John Green

This poignant and true statement is at the heart of The Fault in Our Stars, a novel that deals with the biggest questions, themes and aspects of life: boys, shopping, and books with a side of basketball and video games. Oh yeah and death, love, life. Nothing big there.

Despite the incredibly complex nature of the topics it tackles, The Fault in Our Stars remains at its heart a simply written story. I mean no insult at all when I say the writing of the book is simple. The simplicity of the book makes it as beautiful as it is paradoxical. The paradox is the ease with which Green’s writing style takes on such subjects and makes the complex truths simple while keeping them interesting and gut-wrenching. That is not to say The Fault in Our Stars is not a complex novel. It is, based on the issues it takes on, but its simplicity is lean, powerful and beautiful. No words are wasted from beginning to end. The book is pure muscle, and it certainly packs a punch.

The Fault in Our Stars captures the reality of existence better than any book I have ever read. The  novel is centered on the lives of two teens, Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters. Both Hazel and August live with a dark cloud over their heads, cancer. Hazel continues to battle her terminal case of advanced stage thyroid cancer while August lost his leg before the doctors could control his case and is in remission. However, it would do the book a terrible disservice to call it a cancer book because it is not. Cancer is simply a reality in the book, a setting in the background of a compelling story about love and life. The book highlights the unfortunate truth that many, on some level, forget that people who have cancer are more than just the disease they are fighting. They have dreams, desires, and loves just like the rest of us. One of the most uplifting aspects of The Fault in Our Stars is the effort made by Hazel and Augustus, ‘Gus,’ to prove they are not their disease, despite that the disease was part of them. They realize that their time is limited, so they take hold of their lives and live them together to the fullest. The message that life is precious and we need to enjoy it as much as we can is woven deeply into the background of the story, behind a thick wall of pragmatism and pessimism. The truth of the universe is not so simple as a machine that creates and destroys with impunity. There is hope in the black void of space, the lights of stars that both create and destroy. The truth resists simplicity.

The book will also make you laugh. Hazel’s matter of fact and sarcastic voice pokes holes in society’s social conventions, especially the way people often act around cancer patients. Not only is the narration funny, but the dialogue and character interactions are as well.

Despite there being many, many laughs throughout The Fault in Our Stars, the story is a tear-jerker. I will be the first to admit that I cried myself dry several times while reading it, and I loved every minute of it. The pain within the pages is palpable and real. I have had friends and family members who battled cancer, and John Green got the emotions of watching a loved one fight cancer exactly right. You come to care about both Hazel and Gus like they were family, and its a wonderful, yet sad feeling. I would like to say thank you to Mr. Green for writing The Fault in Our Stars. It is truly inspiring for me, as a person who has had loved ones die of cancer to get a better glimpse into what they went through or were thinking, as a writer because your book has inspired me to write even harder to affect people even half as much as I am sure you will with The Fault in Our Stars and finally as a romantic for giving me a touching love story to fall in love with myself.

John Green has penned a masterpiece. There is no doubt in my mind this book is a ten out of ten. I blushed, laughed, cried, laughed some more and then cried again, and it was more than worth it. I have tried my best to convey the emotions I felt while reading this truly inspiring and amazing book, but I know I cannot. The truth resists simplicity after all, and the truth of everything within The Fault in Our Stars certainly defies all intelligible description I can give. The only thing I can say to you that will make you understand is to go read the book and experience it for yourself. You will not regret it.

If you are not sure whether to give The Fault in Our Stars a chance then watch these two videos of the author reading the first two chapters of the book to see if you like them and then maybe you will be able to decide:

Chapter 1: http://youtu.be/F_vFvbfn9Fs

Chapter 2: http://youtu.be/5o7lHGaSarg

If you have already read The Fault in Our Stars, I want to know what you thought of the book. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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About dmmaster42

I'm a fantasy/fiction/philosophical writer.
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4 Responses to The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (spoiler-free review)

  1. live60 says:

    Hi Matt,

    Glad to see you’re following my blog. I enjoyed your review and what you said about cancer since I recently went through a three year bout with stage four tongue cancer. I was only given a 25% chance for survival. The part where you mentioned the characters of the book didn’t become the cancer was very exact with what I felt. My life didn’t become cancer, although my life was severely hampered with illness and the inability to do the things I wanted to do. However, I stayed true to my passions and I wrote a novel in 30 days, (which is something I can always do, but something of a challenge since I was dying at that point and figured it was my last act), and then came my final hour. It was very close. I’ve been in remission two years now, and I truly feel for any young person who goes through cancer. I do my best to help those who need it and encourage them to never, ever give up. But I do try to put it behind me and live the life I was meant to as a writer, inventor and self taught scientist.

    R.D….

    • dmmaster42 says:

      Hey R.D,

      No problem, I thought I had started following your blog a while ago, but I fixed that. Thanks so much, and wow, that’s great! I’m glad that you’re doing so well. I lost a friend to brain cancer seven years ago and my grandma when I was young, and I know they lived without becoming their disease. People like you, them, and the characters in this book have been a major inspiration for me to write and live life to the fullest.

  2. Nicole says:

    Hi Sir. I was looking for an answer as to why it is entitled TFiOS (because I delight myself in reading alone and I do not dwell on the deeper context of the narration) and to my relief, I finally found an answer to my question.

    The Fault in Our Stars is probably the best book I have ever landed my hands on because despite the “fictionality” that is enveloping the novel, Mr. Green has found a way to weave a thread of his amazing imagination to make it seem that the book really happened in real life. If I were not to stumble upon the Author’s Note, I would not have known that Phalanxifor is non-existent. Also, if I did not make a research on An Imperial Affliction, I wouldn’t have known that it is only a fragment of his thoughts.

    This book, also, has made a very strong connection with its readers. I am deeply moved by the main characters of this story – Augustus and Hazel, needless to say. When they cry, I cry. When they laugh, I laugh. When they feel pain, I feel it, too. The Fault in Our Stars contains that “something” that would make you stay up all night and discover the future that is bound to happen to them.

    With all my heart, thank you Sir for opening my mind’s eye to the greatness of this book. Your review has made me appreciate The Fault in Our Stars even more. 🙂

    (A 10 out of 10 would be an understatement. Just saying.)

    • dmmaster42 says:

      You are most welcome! It makes me so glad that I helped make the book even better for you in between the lines of the text. 🙂
      You’re right. John Green definitely has a grasp of reality in his fiction that is stunning, and it is hard to believe the book is fiction at times. I think that is in a sense the point of the book, to blur the lines of what is real and what is fiction. There is a lot of irony throughout the book in that the deeper you delve into the fiction and read farther into the book, the more real it becomes.

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