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Roman Young
Roman Young

The Fault in Our Stars: A Novel About Love, Life, and Cancer


The Fault in Our Stars: A Book Review




Introduction




If you are looking for a book that will make you laugh, cry, and think, you might want to check out The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. This book is a global bestseller that has been adapted into a movie and has won several awards. But what is this book about? Who is John Green? And why is this book so popular? In this article, I will answer these questions and give you my honest opinion on this book.




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What is The Fault in Our Stars?




The Fault in Our Stars is a young adult novel that tells the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, two teenagers who meet at a cancer support group and fall in love. Hazel has terminal thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs, and Augustus has osteosarcoma that has cost him his right leg. Despite their illnesses, they share a passion for books, especially An Imperial Affliction, a novel by a mysterious author named Peter Van Houten. Together, they embark on a journey to Amsterdam to meet Van Houten and find out the fate of the characters in his book.


Who is John Green?




John Green is an American author, vlogger, producer, and educator. He was born in 1977 and grew up in Orlando, Florida. He studied at Kenyon College and worked as a chaplain at a children's hospital before becoming a writer. He is best known for his young adult novels, such as Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, Turtles All the Way Down, and of course, The Fault in Our Stars. He is also one half of the popular YouTube channel Vlogbrothers, which he runs with his brother Hank Green. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and two children.


Why is this book popular?




The Fault in Our Stars was published in 2012 and became an instant hit. It topped the New York Times Best Seller list for more than seven months and sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. It was also translated into more than 50 languages and adapted into a movie starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in 2014. The movie grossed over $300 million at the box office and received positive reviews from critics and audiences alike.


But what makes this book so appealing to readers of all ages and backgrounds? Some possible reasons are:



  • The book deals with universal themes such as love, death, identity, meaning, and hope.



  • The book portrays realistic and relatable characters who face challenges and dilemmas that many people can empathize with.



  • The book balances humor and tragedy, making it both entertaining and moving.



  • The book offers a fresh and honest perspective on life with cancer, without sugarcoating or romanticizing it.



  • The book invites readers to reflect on their own lives and choices, and to appreciate the beauty and fragility of existence.



Summary of the plot




In this section, I will give you a brief summary of the main events that happen in the book. Beware of spoilers!


The main characters




The protagonist of the book is Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 16-year-old girl who has stage IV thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs. She is smart, witty, and cynical, and she loves reading and watching reality TV shows. She is also depressed and isolated, and she feels like a burden to her parents.


The deuteragonist of the book is Augustus Waters, a 17-year-old boy who has osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that has caused him to lose his right leg. He is charming, confident, and optimistic, and he loves video games and metaphors. He is also adventurous and romantic, and he wants to leave a mark on the world.


The tritagonist of the book is Isaac, a 18-year-old boy who has eye cancer that has left him blind. He is sarcastic, loyal, and funny, and he loves playing video games and making jokes. He is also heartbroken and angry, as his girlfriend Monica dumps him after his surgery.


The antagonist of the book is Peter Van Houten, a 50-something-year-old man who is the author of An Imperial Affliction, Hazel's favorite book. He is rude, arrogant, and alcoholic, and he lives in Amsterdam with his assistant Lidewij. He is also mysterious and secretive, as he refuses to answer any questions about his book or his life.


The main events




The book begins with Hazel attending a cancer support group at a church basement, where she meets Augustus for the first time. They are instantly attracted to each other, and they exchange phone numbers and books. Hazel lends Augustus An Imperial Affliction, and Augustus lends Hazel The Price of Dawn, a video game based on his favorite book series.


An Imperial Affliction is a novel about a girl named Anna who has a rare form of blood cancer. The novel ends abruptly in the middle of a sentence, leaving the fate of Anna and the other characters unresolved. Hazel is obsessed with finding out what happens after the end of the book, and she has written several letters to Van Houten, but he has never replied.


Augustus reads An Imperial Affliction and shares Hazel's curiosity. He manages to contact Van Houten through his assistant Lidewij, who tells him that Van Houten will only answer their questions in person in Amsterdam. Augustus decides to use his wish from The Genies, a foundation that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses, to take Hazel and himself to Amsterdam.


Hazel is thrilled by Augustus's gesture, but she is also hesitant to accept it. She feels guilty for taking away his wish, and she worries about her health and her parents' reaction. She also fears that she will hurt Augustus by dying soon, as she calls herself a "grenade" that will explode and destroy everything around her. However, after getting her doctor's approval and her parents' permission, she agrees to go with him.


Before they leave for Amsterdam, Hazel and Augustus go on a date to watch a movie at Augustus's house. They share their first kiss and confess their love for each other. They also learn that Isaac's girlfriend Monica has broken up with him because she can't handle his blindness. They comfort Isaac by egging Monica's car and smashing her trophies.


Hazel and Augustus fly to Amsterdam with Hazel's mother as their chaperone. They stay at a fancy hotel called the Hotel Filosoof, where they receive a letter from Van Houten welcoming them to the city. They also have a romantic dinner at Oranjee, a restaurant recommended by Van Houten. They share their second kiss at the restaurant, which earns them an applause from the other diners.


The next day, they visit Van Houten's house, expecting to have a meaningful conversation with him. However, they are disappointed and shocked to find out that he is a bitter and rude drunkard who refuses to answer any of their questions. He insults them and mocks their condition, causing them to leave in anger and disgust. Lidewij apologizes to them and reveals that she was the one who arranged their trip without Van Houten's knowledge.


They also share their third kiss in the attic, where Anne Frank wrote her diary. They are applauded by the other visitors, who mistake their kiss for a sign of respect for Anne Frank.


After leaving the Anne Frank House, they go back to the hotel, where they make love for the first time. They also exchange their personal philosophies on life and death. Hazel believes that some infinities are bigger than other infinities, meaning that even though her life is short, it still matters. Augustus believes that oblivion is inevitable, meaning that everyone will eventually be forgotten, but he still hopes to do something worthy of remembrance.


The next morning, Augustus tells Hazel a terrible news: his cancer has returned and has spread throughout his body. He is in a lot of pain and has a very low chance of survival. Hazel is devastated and tries to comfort him. They decide to enjoy their last day in Amsterdam together.


They fly back to Indianapolis, where Augustus's condition worsens. He is hospitalized and undergoes several treatments, but none of them work. He becomes weaker and more depressed, and he relies on Hazel for support and companionship.


One night, he calls Hazel and tells her that he is dying. He asks her to meet him at a park where they used to hang out. She rushes to his side and finds him in a car with blood and vomit all over him. He tells her that he wanted to buy her some cigarettes as a metaphorical gift, but he had a pain attack and couldn't get out of the car. She calls an ambulance and stays with him until it arrives.


A few days later, Augustus organizes a pre-funeral for himself at the church basement where they met. He invites Hazel and Isaac to attend and to say some eulogies for him. They both deliver heartfelt speeches that praise his courage, humor, and generosity. Augustus thanks them and tells them that he loves them.


Eight days after the pre-funeral, Augustus dies. Hazel is heartbroken and attends his real funeral, where she sees Van Houten again. He tells her that he was Augustus's pen pal and that he came to pay his respects. He also tells her that he wrote An Imperial Affliction as a tribute to his daughter Anna, who died of leukemia at a young age. He explains that he ended the book abruptly because that's how his daughter's life ended.


He gives Hazel a letter that Augustus wrote for her before he died. The letter is a eulogy that expresses his love for her and his gratitude for their time together. He also asks Van Houten to help him write a sequel to An Imperial Affliction that would tell what happens to Anna's mother after her death.


Hazel reads the letter and cries. She realizes that Augustus was not a grenade that hurt her, but a star that brightened her life. She also realizes that she doesn't need to know what happens after the end of An Imperial Affliction, because she knows what happens after the end of The Fault in Our Stars: she lives.


Analysis of the book




In this section, I will give you my personal analysis of the book. I will focus on four aspects: the writing style, the symbolism and metaphors, the humor and sarcasm, and the emotional impact.


The writing style




The writing style of John Green is simple yet elegant, direct yet poetic, realistic yet imaginative. He uses short sentences and paragraphs that create a fast-paced and engaging narrative. He also uses descriptive language and imagery that evoke the senses and emotions of the reader.


For example, here is how he describes Hazel's first impression of Augustus:



"His voice was low, smoky, and dead sexy."


And here is how he describes Hazel's feelings after making love with Augustus:



"I fell asleep like that, in the arms of my best friend and my love."


He also uses literary devices such as foreshadowing, irony, allusion, and intertextuality that add depth and complexity to the story. He hints at future events and twists that surprise the reader. He contrasts what the characters say and what they do, or what they expect and what they get. He references other works of literature, art, and culture that enrich the meaning and context of the story. He incorporates texts within texts, such as An Imperial Affliction, the letters, and the eulogies, that create a metafictional effect.


For example, here is how he foreshadows Augustus's death:



"Augustus Waters died eight days after his pre-funeral."


And here is how he uses irony to show the absurdity of life:



"Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin."


And here is how he alludes to Shakespeare's Julius Caesar to highlight the theme of fate:



"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."


The symbolism and metaphors




John Green also uses symbolism and metaphors to convey the themes and messages of the book. He uses objects, actions, and words that have a deeper or hidden meaning that relates to the characters or the plot. He also plays with the literal and figurative meanings of these symbols and metaphors, creating humor and irony.


For example, here are some of the symbols and metaphors that he uses in the book:



Symbol/Metaphor


Meaning


The cigarettes


Augustus likes to put a cigarette in his mouth but not light it, as a way of showing that he has control over his life and death. He says: "You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don't give it the power to do its killing."


The oxygen tank


Hazel needs to carry an oxygen tank with her everywhere she goes, as a way of coping with her lung cancer. She names it Philip, after Philip II of Macedonia, who was the father of Alexander the Great. She says: "Like America, he was father to a great nation that would eventually outshine him."


The swing set


Hazel has a swing set in her backyard that she used to play with when she was younger. She decides to sell it on Craigslist, as a way of letting go of her childhood and accepting her mortality. She says: "I wanted to get rid of this thing that had been sitting in our backyard forever unused."


The stars


The stars are a recurring motif in the book that represent different things for different characters. For Hazel, they symbolize her love for Augustus and her hope for a better afterlife. For Augustus, they symbolize his fear of oblivion and his desire for glory. For Van Houten, they symbolize his grief for his daughter and his guilt for his actions.


The humor and sarcasm




Another aspect of John Green's writing style is his use of humor and sarcasm. He uses jokes, puns, wordplay, and irony to make the reader laugh and to lighten the mood of the story. He also uses sarcasm to express the characters' opinions and feelings, especially their frustration and anger.


For example, here are some of the humorous and sarcastic lines from the book:



"I'm like. Like. I'm like a grenade, Mom. I'm a grenade and at some point I'm going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?"



"Oh, I wouldn't mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you."



"That's the thing about pain. It demands to be felt."



"I'm on a roller coaster that only goes up."


The emotional impact




The last aspect of John Green's writing style is his ability to create an emotional impact on the reader. He makes the reader care about the characters and their stories, and he makes the reader feel what they feel. He also makes the reader cry and smile at the same time.


For example, here are some of the emotional scenes from the book:



"I love you present tense," I whispered.


tense."



"You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers."



"You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful."



"Okay?" he asked.


"Okay," I said.


Conclusion




In this section, I will give you my personal conclusion on the book. I will tell you what I liked and disliked about the book, and who I would recommend it to.


What did I like about the book?




There are many things that I liked about the book, but here are some of the main ones:



  • I liked the characters and their relationships. They were realistic, complex, and relatable. They had flaws and strengths, dreams and fears, joys and sorrows. They also had chemistry and compatibility, friendship and romance, loyalty and honesty.



  • I liked the plot and the twists. They were engaging, surprising, and satisfying. They kept me hooked and curious, shocked and moved, happy and sad.



  • I liked the themes and the messages. They were meaningful, profound, and inspiring. They made me think and feel, question and learn, appreciate and live.



  • I liked the style and the tone. They were simple yet elegant, direct yet poetic, realistic yet imaginative. They also balanced humor and tragedy, making the book both entertaining and moving.



What did I dislike about the book?




There are not many things that I disliked about the book, but here are some of the minor ones:



  • I disliked some of the clichés and stereotypes. They were predictable, unrealistic, and annoying. For example, the manic pixie dream girl trope, the dying wish trope, the evil author trope, etc.



  • I disliked some of the dialogues and monologues. They were pretentious, unrealistic, and annoying. For example, the philosophical rants, the metaphysical debates, the poetic declarations, etc.



  • I disliked some of the scenes and events. They were unrealistic, unnecessary, and annoying. For example, the egging scene, the clapping scene, the sex scene, etc.



Who would I recommend this book to?




bold, irreverent, and raw. I would also recommend this book to anyone who likes books that are funny, thrilling, and tragic.


However, I would not recommend this book to anyone who dislikes young adult novels that deal with cancer, romance, and drama. I would also not recommend this book to anyone who dislikes books that are clichéd, unrealistic, and pretentious. I would also not recommend this book to anyone who dislikes books that are sad, depressing, and heartbreaking.


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about the book and their answers:



  • Q: Is The Fault in Our Stars based on a true story?



  • A: No, The Fault in Our Stars is not based on a true story. However, John Green was inspired by a real person named Esther Earl, who was a fan of his books and who died of thyroid cancer at the age of 16. He dedicated the book to her and said that she was "the only person who really influenced its writing."




  • Q: What does the title The Fault in Our Stars mean?



  • A: The title The Fault in Our Stars is a reference to a famous line from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves." This means that our destiny is not determined by fate or luck, but by our own actions and choices. However, John Green subverts this idea by suggesting that sometimes our destiny is determined by factors beyond our control, such as illness or death.




  • Q: What is An Imperial Affliction?



  • A: An Imperial Affliction is a fictional book within the book that Hazel and Augustus love. It is written by Peter Van Houten and it tells the story of a girl named Anna who has a rare form of blood cancer. The book ends abruptly in the middle of a sentence, leaving the fate of Anna and the other characters unresolved.




  • Q: What is the significance of the swing set?



A: The swing set is a symbol of Hazel's childhood and innocence. It also represents her acceptance of her mortality and her willingness to let go of her past. She decides to sell it on Craigslist


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