“The Fault in Our Stars” falters after high expectations

The Fault in Our Stars falters after high expectations

With an average of 4.5 stars for starred reviews on both the websites Goodreads and Barnes and Noble, as well as over 7,700 5-star reviews on amazon.com, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars is definitely a book many people would be curious about.

I, apparently, was one of those people when I first picked up a copy of the bestselling novel and flipped through its first pages. The Fault in Our Stars is narrated by a 16-year old terminally ill girl named Hazel Grace Lancaster. She is depressed and dying from all sorts of cancer in her and her failing lungs, so when her mother forces her to go to a weekly Support Group, she meets her love interest: the “gorgeous plot twist” Augustus Waters.

Augustus is a teenage boy, also 16, who has lost his leg from cancer. His word usage and conversation reveal that he’s practically at the same intellectual level as Hazel (which is pretty high). He’s hot and mysterious at first and Hazel becomes fast friends with him—one could reason because of “love at first sight”. Through countless text messages and phone calls with each other about Hazel’s (and eventually Augustus’s) favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, they spend more time together and get to know each other’s stories and personalities. Of course, as expected the two end up falling in love—only the difference from a clichéd love story is that both are cancer patients, and both can relate to each other through the pain and consequences of being cancer patients.

Although many people find this book “impossible to put down,” according to reviews on amazon.com, I took quite a while to finish it and didn’t find it as riveting and moving as others may have. In fact, at more than one scene, the story lacked action or any twists to keep the reader (namely, me) excited, and suddenly other novels filled with more action and less romance seemed much more tempting. Call me out for being shallow and getting bored when Green is in the middle of developing his characters with a vast amount of vocabulary (consisting of dysmorphia, nihilism, and eponymous), but there’s only a certain amount of dictionary-flipping that I can take.

Basically, despite the way Green tries to express the two young lovers as teens, they certainly don’t sound very teenager-like. Sure, Hazel and Augustus’s conversations are often romantic, touching and emotional, discussing deep subjects about their favorite book and how it ties into their lives. Yet sometimes I find such topics too deep for any 16-year old to chat about off the top of their heads. Hazel and Augustus come up with a myriad of deep and puzzling philosophies, which among these are the famously quoted “…some infinities are bigger than other infinities” (Pg. 189), and “My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations” (Pg. 311). Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of any sophomore utter anything as closely to philosophical as that.

Maybe being terminally ill makes you ten years wiser.

Otherwise, the book is touching and very well-written. The Fault in Our Stars is immersed in philosophy and artistry, giving readers an insight on how cancerous teenagers are just like normal teenagers in romance and humor. The setting is beautiful, the word choice stunning, and the plot will carry you through the story with just enough interest to get to the ironic twist in the end that has brought many a reader to tears. The characters are strong and inspiring icons: Hazel struggles to simply just breathe every day, yet she maintains a dry comical humor and keeps her head up high; while Augustus desires to live life to the fullest and won’t let anything get in the way, not even the effects of his previous battles with cancer.

And all the way to the very end, The Fault in Our Stars is still ultimately about two young lovers: charming, intriguing Augustus Waters; and intellectual, witty Hazel Grace Lancaster, who claims, “As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once” (Pg. 125).