Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Goodreads Review: "The Fault in Our Stars"

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"The Fault in Our Stars" really is a remarkable book - a book about a person with cancer that manages to be almost completely down-to-earth and actively avoids being obnoxiously sappy. (It's pretty much the antithesis of the Nicholas Sparks book I read recently.)

Just for that, John Green deserves major accolades. The fact that it's also compelling, entertaining, and funny, and features some really genuinely interesting characters, means that "The Fault in Our Stars" is really one of the most fantastic books I've read in a while.

"The Fault in Our Stars" follows Hazel, a 16-year-old girl living with terminal cancer. She is happy - or as happy as she can be - watching "America's Next Top Model" with her parents and rereading her favorite book over and over again, until she meets Augustus Waters, a 17-year-old boy whose cancer is in remission. Hazel and Augustus strike up a friendship that soon becomes a full-blown, deep, intense romance.

Hazel is a wonderfully likeable main character. Her cancer doesn't change the fact that she's a snarky 16-year-old girl - she's just a snarky 16-year-old girl with cancer. Green did a wonderful job crafting her, and it's easy to completely dive into Hazel's life and instantly fall in love with her. I absolutely love her spunk and the fact that she's snotty and annoyed a lot. She can also be very loving and is very conscious of the feelings of the people she loves - her parents and Augustus - but she really feels like a real person, not a noble caricature of a person with cancer. Just because someone has cancer doesn't mean that they lose their personality, and Hazel has a personality outside of being a Girl with Cancer. It's wonderful and, really, shockingly rare in books.

Augustus is, to be honest, kind of a douche, but I really mean that in the most loving way, too. He's one of those hilariously pretentious, "deep" teenagers, just a little bit more pretentious and "deep" because he had cancer. (I feel like he was probably pretentious before he had cancer, too.) I rolled my eyes at him a lot, but Augustus had just enough moments of warmth and genuine emotion that his douchiness really just ended up being endearing teenager stuff. I kind of wanted to not like him, but I really did. And his deep love for Hazel always came through the facade.

"The Fault in Our Stars" is not a perfect book, so why did I give it five stars? Because despite the fact that I knocked off a star for being a little bit pretentious at times, it gets at least one star, if not more, tacked back on for being such a superb, different, enjoyable, wonderful book about cancer and dying. Normally if a character has terminal cancer in a book, my eyeballs are rolling out of my head at the sappiness of it all (horrible, perhaps, but true!), but "The Fault in Our Stars" is down-to-earth and straightforward about what happens. Cancer sucks and dying of it is horrible, and "The Fault in Our Stars" doesn't shy away from showing that. There are some really, really sad moments, and some really, really horrible, gross moments in this book, and I'm glad that John Green wrote honestly about it. But also, in the midst of such a horrible situation as cancer, whether it's terminal or not, there are moments of light and moments of humor, and John Green wrote so well about those, too. People with cancer are still the people they were before they had cancer and I'm glad that John Green understands that. It's a wonderfully balanced, realistic, honest and entertaining book.

Seriously, though, grab the tissues - this book is a tearjerker if ever I read one.

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