Friday, October 04, 2013

The Fault In Our Stars (John Green) - a review

The Times says it is "damn near genius ..simply devastating...fearless in the face of powerful, uncomplicated, unironized emotion" and that it definitely is.

John Green's newest addition to his spectacular collection of original novels is "The Fault In Our Stars".

It is completely agreeable that "The Fault In Our Stars" earned the number one spot on the New York times bestseller list. Not only is the book an ultimate page turner, it is 100% addictive and I could not put it down; I read the entire book in one sitting without stopping. 

For anyone who has not read any John Green books before, where have you been?! I strongly recommend that you do so. Many of his books tend to follow the same sort of pattern, but I found "A Fault In Our Stars" took a different approach to many of his previous books which, although his previous writing is fantastic, was quite refreshing.

The book is written from the perspective of cancer patient Hazel, a 16 year old girl, and her intellectual, yet possibly hostile and shockingly true, views on the disease. The story follows her through Cancer Kid Support Group meetings where she meets someone who could possibly change her life forever. That someone comes in the form of Augustus Waters, a previous sufferer of cancer. Once Hazel introduces him to her favourite novel, things gradually begin to change as they embark on their very own love story full of tears, adventure and heart-melting romance. They embark on a trip to Amsterdam in an attempt to tie some loose ends from their shared love of a novel, but when things get slightly out of hand, will Hazel and Gus get their questions answered? Will Hazel and Gus survive the ultimate test? How will their story end? 

Several other characters emerge along the way who end up playing a rather significant role towards the end of the book, such as a boy named Isaac, who is suffering with "eye cancer". Another is Peter Van Houten (the author of Hazel's favourite book, but no more information will be given!). He is used as a developmental character, showing the opposite of what Hazel, Gus and Isaac are like, and what they could have become due to their illness. Mainly I think he is used as a contrast mechanism for the other characters - sort of showing an example of day and night; one set of characters remain hopeful about themselves and everything, whilst the other has opened to the darkness and let everything engulf him.

There are several themes that run continuously throughout the book, whether they be prominent or something underlying some of the narrative. For example, a prominent one being terminal illness. It is rather interesting how throughout the book, this theme applies to every character in some way. For example, we deal with it directly through the main characters, but also indirectly through the parents of Hazel who deal with the illness of their daughter, and through Patrick (the leader of the support group) who is a survivor of it. I have to say, this is one of the themes that really does hit home. Especially as someone who has experienced cancer through family members and friends, it really does hit in some places and it gets rather emotional. Linked to this is also dealing with loss. This is shown through several of the characters in different ways, but I want you guys to read the book and tell me what you think of that one.

The final theme I want to talk about is that of coping. Whether this has been outlines before as a general theme, I don't know, but it is one of the things that stuck out for me. This is shown in so many ways. For example, I see it mainly with Hazel. She uses literature as her form of escapism from the real world - I think I noticed this mostly because I do the same! She submerges herself in every aspect of her favourite books, and even takes on some new ones suggested by Gus to use as her outlet. I think this is also seen in Gus, who uses both Hazel and video games as his coping method. This may seem obscure to those who have not yet read the book, but I am trying to not give spoilers at the moment! Isaac uses his sense of humour as a method of coping with his illness and the events that follow. He makes jokes about things, possibly in a way of trying to ignore everything, but you never know. 

Ramble about things in the book over - you now have to read the book!

I am a self-proclaimed book worm, and I have read a large variety of books and genres - I have also read some of Green's books before. However, never in any book I have read have I experienced such a spectrum of different emotions in 319 pages. I could go from laughing hysterically to crying like a baby within the space of pages, or even lines. His amazing writing style allows readers to connect with the characters on a level that is not usually expected from a series of fictional characters. Some moments in the book are written in a comedic manner, yet had me in tears with the underlying reasoning behind what was being said.

"The Fault In Our Stars" is written from the perspective of Hazel, a format I usually find difficult to read. However, I am thoroughly impressed, as usual, by Green's depth to the character, and the understanding of both the illness and the feelings of a teenage girl. I suspect many of my readers are female, and thus know what sort of things go through your head, so for a male to understand and convey these in writing is particularly impressive as we sometimes cannot put our thoughts in to words. 

Although Green does invent fictional drugs and treatments, something you can read at the end of the book, the manner they are executed are so well conveyed. This is something I don't think I can put in to writing, so you will have to read it to find out, but I think it is written in such a good and sentimental way.

Despite the fact "The Fault In Our Stars" is written about cancer, I would not define this as a 'cancer book' because of the fact it isn't primarily about the illness, and is not something I would class as a tragedy book. As a general rule, this is a comedic book, with some sadder parts scattered throughout it. I'm not sure what genre I would generally class this under - it has so many different aspects in it! What do you think?

Overall I think this book deserves a total of 4.5 stars out of 5! The overall story line and description of almost every aspect allows the reader to develop an attachment to the main characters in a way that many books don't. 

This is a definite must read for absolutely anyone who loves to get stuck in to a good book.

As always, thank you for reading and I shall speak to you next time!


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