Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green




Title: The Fault In Our Stars

Author: John Green

Publisher: Penguin

Genre: YA General Fiction

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars


I made a serious attempt to get my hands on a copy of The Fault In Our Stars before the movie came out.  Given that I work in a bookstore, this would’ve been easy except I’ve lately curbed my book spending.  If I can borrow it or get it from the library, that’s what I do.  So made myself #1000-something on my library’s hold list for both the hardcover and e-book edition.  I managed to get my hands on the hardcover edition 3 days before my sister and I planned on seeing the movie.  I can handle reading a book before or after seeing the movie adaptation but I’ve learned to never be in the middle of the book when you see the movie adaptation.  One instance leads to comparison, the other to spoilers.  I’m especially glad I followed this rule for The Fault In Our Stars because John Green was so intrical to the making of the movie.  However, now I end up feeling like I could have just seen the movie and not read the book.

Yes, here we have that occurrence so rare that avid book readers claim it never happens.  I liked the movie more than the book.  I found the book to be a bit pretentious, especially the character of Hazel.   That’s a bit ironic since I really connected with Shailene Woodley’s portrayal of Hazel and thought her version of Hazel was very likable.  This may have to do with the fact that you get more implications of person’s character in a movie and more description in a book. It’s the old “show don’t tell” adage.  The book reveals parts of of Hazel’s personality that just grate on my nerves. For example, the scene where Hazel first hangs out with Gus at his home, shortly after meeting him. They watch V For Vendetta because Gus thinks Hazel looks like Natalie Portman. When the movie is over and Gus asks her what she thought, this is part of Hazel’s internal thought process, “….It was kind of a boy movie. I don’t know why boys expect us to like boy movies. We don’t expect them to like girl movies.” But instead of saying she doesn’t like the movie, she lies to please him.  The movie cuts this internal monologue down to a single look that just implies she didn’t like the movie because she has different interests than Gus.  I know it’s being picky, but that line made me really dislike Hazel and John Green because it felt like he was writing a teenager gender stereotype. He’s never been a teenage girl so he has to run off the assumption that her priorities are boys, clothes, love and make up and, of course, staying alive.  I have been a teenage girl and I liked V for Vendetta  (the graphic novel more than the movie) and I like movies with storm troopers and zombies.  I think my teenage self would have been more attracted to Gus than Hazel should be.  They don’t seem to have much in common besides cancer.

It’s odd that some of Hazel’s reactions to things seem so immature when she is portrayed as a smart girl, wise beyond her years.  This book has some great moments where it speaks the truth about how the healthy interact with the sick or dying.  I even enjoyed the idea that Hazel’s favorite book stops mid-sentence and her quest to find out what happens after. I think this is an aspect of life that we all are curious about and it foreshadowed the end of this book. If it hadn’t, I would have found the abrupt ending more annoying. Peter Van Houten, the author of Hazel’s favorite novel  is both obnoxious and pretentious, making those sections of the book in Amsterdam almost unbearable to read.

All in all, this book is a simple love story between two “star-crossed” teenagers that wraps itself in huge ideas to seem important.  I enjoyed the story but don’t see why people think this is the BEST BOOK EVER. I’ve read better YA that managed to make me feel more emotions.  I guess I really wanted to feel destroyed emotionally by the end of this book and that just didn’t happen.  Even the movie made me cry harder.  Seeing the movie before reading the book didn’t lessen the end for me because this book makes it very clear how it will end almost on the first page.  What I didn’t expect was to not really connect with Hazel at all and fall for Gus instead. I guess, since it’s a love story, we’re all just supposed to fall for the guy.


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