Staff Review – The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

If you’re a fan of young adult novels, you’ve probably heard of John Green, opens a new window. He has written a number of YA works that, I believe, will be considered classics in the genre for years to come. “The Fault in Our Stars” was published in 2012, and it has become a standard and a powerhouse in YA lit ever since. A movie was made in 2014, opens a new window that captures the essence and spirit of the book wonderfully. The story is about 16 year old Hazel, a teenager diagnosed with terminal cancer. At a cancer support group for teens, she meets Isaac and Augustus. Hazel and Augustus’ love story is powerful and palpable through the pages, and this story will make you believe in young love. 

As mentioned, the main characters in the novel are teenagers who are suffering from serious, sometimes terminal illnesses. Hazel suffers from thyroid cancer which has spread to her lungs. She requires an oxygen tank at all times in order to breathe properly. At the cancer support group, she meets friends Isaac and Augustus. When Hazel meets them, Gus is in remission from osteosarcoma (bone cancer) which took his right leg. Isaac suffers from eye cancer, and has become blind as a result. These teenagers suffer from heartbreaking conditions, but the book is laced with so much wit and humour that it doesn’t read as a depressing book about dying teenagers. There is hope throughout the story, even as the characters face changes to their conditions and their lives because of them. There is plenty of sadness and tears throughout the story, but because Green writes these teens as resilient, witty and smart, readers want to read more and see how their stories end, instead of being too sad to finish the story.

One of the things that has stuck with me the most about this book is the quotes. Green has an uncanny way of writing some of the most impactful and thought-provoking lines in YA literature, which is true of many of his other novels as well. Some of my personal favourites from “The Fault in Our Stars” include:

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities”

“My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations” (I had this quote on a t-shirt!).

“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you.”

Augustus’s reasoning for not actually smoking the cigarettes he puts in his mouth: “It’s a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.”

And of course, the quote that the book is named after, which comes from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”. As said in the book: “But it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he has Cassius note, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves.”

Within the novel itself, Hazel reads a novel about a teenage girl dying from cancer, and this fictional book ends in the middle of a sentence. The book, author and story play a large role in “The Fault in Our Stars”, as the fictional author (played brilliantly in the movie by the one and only Willem Dafoe) says he ended his book this way because life ends in this way. Sometimes things happen that you cannot prepare for, and there are millions of people who die everyday in the middle of a sentence, or rather, in the middle of their lives. The ending of the fictional novel reminds Hazel, Gus, and the reader that life is short, and that the most dangerous thing you can do with it is assume you have more time. “The Fault in Our Stars” inspires readers to live life fully; not just by going bungee jumping and doing adventurous activities, but by simply being honest with yourself and others, telling people you love them instead of assuming they know, and pursuing a life filled with what makes you happy. If you haven’t already done so, check out John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars today!