The Fault in Our Stars is John Green at his best – emotional and gripping, with witty characters and a story that keeps you glued to the book until the end. The book follows a terminal cancer patient named Hazel Lancaster as she falls in love and learns important lessons about life, death and dreams. It is, as Markus Zusak says, “A novel of life and death and the people caught in between.”
However, some readers may not like the somber tone of the story. Most of the main characters are either dying or debilitated, or related to those who are. With that in mind, let’s delve deeper into the story.
The characters in this book are especially strong, as is typical of a John Green novel (the same can be said of characters in Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines). Augustus Waters, the “gorgeous” intrusion who practically plops into Hazel’s lap, is a particularly dynamic character who goes through immeasurable highs and dark, devastating lows. It almost felt like Green was writing about a real person.
I wasn’t really expecting that amount of realism. Many authors who create dying characters focus too much on their tragic aspects, often at the expense of the personality of the characters (see: Nicholas Sparks). John Green has written tragic books before, like Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns, but none of them are on the same level as The Fault in our Stars. I bought the book because I’m a huge fan of John Green, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was. The characters seem like real people even if they’re not necessarily likable all the time, and there’s a lot of humor sprinkled in among the depressing, tragic moments.
As funny as The Fault in our Stars can be, one must remember that it’s still a book about cancer patients.
This becomes particularly obvious towards the end of the book, when the characters’ conditions deteriorate. Without spoiling it, I must say that Augustus’s deterioration was one of the most depressing things I’ve ever read, particularly because I cared more about his character than I would have had he not been so well fleshed-out. One thing you can say about the typical “ill-girl” trope is that it isn’t as emotionally-flaying when something bad happens to them. “Emotionally-flaying” is really the only term I can use to describe this book; it’s really, really depressing even when it’s funny and real.
There’s really no way around it: The Fault in our Stars is incredibly depressing at times. I would, however, wager that the journey is well worth the tears, and I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone.