I think everyone and their cousin who has been in the book blogging community for more than a month has read this novel, well, excluding myself, of course.
I finally took the initiative to read my first of John Green’s novels for part of The Reading Quest (see the challenge here!) as a “Book to Movie Adaptation.”
This novel is about sixteen-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster who has a cancer in her lungs (it was originally in her thyroid). She’s not a particularly complex character–she likes reading and her family and that’s honestly it.
Hazel has to drag around an oxygen tank that’s connected to her nose to help her breathe, and at one of her support group sessions, she meets a boy (le gasp!).
This boy is Augustus Waters, ex cancer survivor, king of metaphors and spewing pretentious bullshit, and leg amputee.
Hazel, our nice, innocent, somewhat bland main character, plus mysterious boy Augustus Waters equals 💕.
If you’re somehow part of the 1% who haven’t read this book or the .000001% who haven’t heard of it (or been spoiled), here’s the summary:
“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.”
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.
I didn’t like the romance between Hazel and Augustus.
(Thank you Loki for expressing my emotions so well 💚).
But before I can actually go to explain this part of the novel, I have to touch on the characters.
I found Hazel to be okay. She’s a bookworm and suffers from lung cancer, but that’s the extent of her character. She doesn’t really have friends and spends a lot of time at home reading and trying to avoid going to support group.
If I had a terminal illness, I’d probably spend all that time reading too.
She was our typical female main protagonist who becomes more interesting and changes throughout the course of the novel.
But I wasn’t a fan of Augustus. He was just so . . . pretentious. The number of teenage boys like him is the same as my yearning to give away my books. Zero.
I could kind of understand how Augustus used metaphors to a certain extent because I’m sure a lot of teenage boys go through that phase–the mysterious poetry-reading bad boy.
But the cigarette was a little too far for me. Carrying a cigarette around as a metaphor for something that kills you but you’re not letting kill you is just very over the top.
I think Augustus (aka Gus) could have gone a lot farther as a character if he just simplified things and was more realistic, but then again, it would possibly null out the plot and he would lose the mysterious vibe that attracted Hazel.
As Hazel grew tremendously as a character, Gus remained pretty static. He had some minor changes, but nothing as drastic and dynamic as what happened to Hazel.
The side characters are all unique and helped further the plot, but I had no real connection with them.
(Because everyone, their cousin, and their pet dog has read this book, there will be SPOILERS AHEAD. You have been warned.)
I didn’t really care that Gus died because I didn’t connect with him very well. I connected with Hazel a lot because I’m just as bland as she is (but I do like my book characters interesting).
I admit, I did cry when Gus died, but not for the right reasons. I didn’t cry because I was so sad that he was gone. I cried because, as much as I didn’t like him, he made Hazel happy.
I have my female main protagonists backs–it’s very rare that I don’t want them to be happy and would rather have them burn in hell for an eternity. No thanks. I just wanted Hazel to be happy, and even if that meant her being with some pretentious teenage boy, so be it.
When I read, I don’t usually imagine myself as the main character. I know some people do that, but I like to be more of that hovering person on the sidelines who nobody notices but is super invested in the drama.
So I was invested in Hazel, but not Gus.
And she’s sixteen, they probably weren’t actually in love.
By the time the novel was over, I was pretty proud of Green for killing him off. It was the perfect push to get Hazel to really change as a character and it made a great turning point in the novel. I found it implemented as a great plot device, and I think a lot of people interpret this novel as a romance, but I saw it as a contemporary.
This isn’t a story about Hazel and Gus–he dies around 3/5 of the way through. This is a story about Hazel and how she changes as a character. This is a fact that gets lost in the romanticism of this novel.
The reason I put of reading this novel for so long was because I thought it was a romance, not a contemporary. I’m not a teenage romance kind of person. Subplots? Sure. But most teenage romances don’t last past college and it makes me sad to think about how although the couple is together, I don’t think they’ll stay together.
But it’s not a romance in my eyes and this was why this book was so off putting. The buzz around it, frankly ruined my view of this novel before I even read it.
Despite the early shortcomings, I enjoyed reading this. Green forms a unique, more succinct voice for Hazel and the plot is engaging and paced well.
I liked the overall metaphors throughout (just not Gus’). The drama with Peter van Houten was very enjoyable to read and see Hazel’s hopes and dreams torn down (and then built back up). The foreshadowing was done expertly and hinted at the plot, but not too much that it was blaringly obvious.
I didn’t love this novel, but I liked it. This and a combination of its flaws made me drop a star. (Love being defined as OMG EVERYONE IN MY VICINITY HAS TO READ THIS.)
I found The Fault in Our Stars an enjoyable read, despite its shortcomings in the male main character and the romance. This popular novel that’s garnered over 2.5 million ratings is a well-written novel about a girl and how she comes of age from a series of experiences, not a romance.
Have you read The Fault in Our Stars? (Of course you have who am I kidding?!) What did you think of the novel?