First of all, let me start off by saying that I read this book in about 6 hours. I woke up on January 9th, picked it up and literally did not put it down until it was mid afternoon. I would also like to note that I am not quite emotionally stable right now, thanks to this book. But, in any case, lets get started.
The Summary :
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green tells the story of 16 year old Hazel Grace Lancaster, who is currently suffering from Thyroid cancer, which has now spread to her lungs. When Hazel’s mother decides that she is depressed, because she would rather spend her time reading than out in the “real world,” she is forced to join a support group for other teenagers with various cancers. Hazel is constantly trying to find a way out of going to support group, and even while she is there, she is sarcastic as ever. Enter Augustus Waters, the new cute cancer survivor that can’t keep his eyes off Hazel. As Hazel begins to spend time with Augustus, she finds herself feeling more than she thinks she should, even though he makes it abundantly clear that he is completely into her. When Hazel tells Gus that she wrote letters to their favorite author for years with no reply, he gives her the best gift she could have ever gotten, His Wish. The Genie’s (read – The Make A Wish Foundation) grant “cancer kids” with their last dying wish. While Hazel used hers on a trip to Disney World when she was 13, Augustus chose to save his. He gave that wish to Hazel, and flew the two of them, along with Hazel’s mother out to Amsterdam to meet the author. At this point, theres nothing that Hazel can do, but love him, and not worry about their future. This trip is full of surprises, beginning with Augustus dropping the “I’m in love with you” bomb (probably not the best metaphor, but you get the gist) on the plane, to their author, Peter van Houten being a complete and total “doucheface,” To Augustus dropping the “I have cancer again” bomb. Suddenly, the tables are turned, and Hazel is the one fighting to keep him alive. After Augustus arranges a pre-funeral, attended by only Hazel and their friend Isaac, who is now blind from having eye cancer, They are forced to attend a real one. All Hazel is left with is the last correspondence between Augustus and van Houten, which is actually heartbreaking to read.
The Characters :
Hazel – Hazel is remarkably real, and finally a female character that gives us introverts someone to relate to. She isn’t all enthusiasm, and “I’m gonna beat cancer” attitude. While there is nothing wrong with that attitude, in fact it is one to be celebrated, it is refreshing to read a “cancer book” wherein the main protagonist is realistic about her prognosis, which is great because according to Hazel, “cancer books suck.” Although her experimental medication is helping, she understands that her days are limited, and she doesn’t want to put Augustus through the pain of losing her. Her narrative is strong and very emotional, and it kept me feeling, right along with her.
Augustus – Even without knowing what he looks like (see – Ansel Elgort. Damn.), I was immediately attracted to him. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a crooked smile. Augustus is the type of person who’s demeanor demanded attention. He was fully aware of his charm, his wit, and he never seemed to let his smile falter. He is a fiercely loyal friend to Isaac, and an incredibly devoted love to Hazel. He doesn’t care that he might not have her forever, he is more than content with having her now. It literally broke my heart when his cancer came back, and when he agreed to fight for her. He was prepared to live in excruciating pain, so that she wouldn’t have to live with the pain of losing him. Also, how cute is it that he exclusively calls her “Hazel Grace?”
Isaac – From the sighs, to the obnoxious PDA, to the funeral, all the way to the last pages of the book, Isaac is the best friend I’ve ever read about. Isaac, who cares more about losing his girlfriend than losing his eyes, never stops being a friend to both Augustus and Hazel. His eulogy for Augustus, at both the pre-funeral, and the real funeral broke my heart. No one should have to lose their best friend.
Peter van Houten – Oh my God, even with a little bit of development at the end, I couldn’t fully like him. I’m sorry, you don’t treat your fans like that, or your assistant like that, or people in general like that. After he flew out to attend Augustus’ funeral, and finding out the truth about his daughter, I can almost sympathize. Almost.
Hazel’s Parents – Hazels mom may be your typical helicopter mom, but you can actually feel her love for Hazel on every page. She never ceases to be there for Hazel, even when she says some pretty nasty “teenagery” things to her. Her father shares a quiet kind of love. Honestly, I envy Hazel’s relationship with her father, even over her relationship with Augustus.
The Plot :
Like I said, I did not put this book down for longer than a quick bathroom break. I was taken into Hazel’s world, and wasn’t fully prepared to leave when the book ended. Thats the heartbreaking thing about TFiOS, it ends. It ends, and you expect it to go on for a few more pages, to actually end, but it doesn’t. She reads the letter, and makes one comment, and poof. Last page. Unless I’m just reading too far into this, I’m going to go ahead and call this a metaphor (Augustus loved his metaphors) for the unfinished life. Of course it didn’t end mid-sentence, like Hazel’s favorite book, An Imperial Affliction did, but It still felt like there should have been more. But this is honestly the truest and most beautifully heartbreaking love story that I have ever encountered. The voices were honest, the lighter parts were seamless, and most importantly, the emotions were real.
The Thing we Aren’t Supposed to Talk About :
I know that the minute this book was released, everyone and their grandmother started wondering, “Is this book a true story?” “Is Hazel supposed to be Esther?” While I do fully believe that TFiOS was inspired by Esther Earl, a young nerdfighter, and friend of John and Hank Green, I also know that Esther is Esther, and Hazel is fictional. We can only hope that somewhere in Heaven, or whatever you believe to be the afterlife, Esther has read this book and loved it as much as we all did.
The Overall :
This would be my first 5 heart book, of it didn’t completely break my heart. I am docking 1/2 of a heart to make up for the time I spent crying. I know that part of the point of this book is to remind us that novels end, and that there is no “what happens next” for most fictional characters, but I can’t help but wonder what became of Hazel Grace Lancaster. 4.5 out of 5. Amazing work. I would recommend this to anyone with a heart.
Don’t forget to be awesome.