Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Sixteen-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster is a medical miracle living on an oxygen tank and a drug called Phalanxifor. Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at thirteen, Hazel has been through many surgeries and treatments. At one point, dozens of drugs were flowing through her body, trying to keep her alive. Later, doctors experimented on her with Phalanxifor, a drug that didn’t work on around 70% of people—but it worked on Hazel.

Hazel is made of cancer, but The Fault in Our Stars is in no way a typical cancer story. Hazel’s experience with cancer has made her seem a lot older and wiser than she is. Her insights are so interesting to think about, readers will contemplate them for days afterward.

When asked why she doesn’t eat meat, Hazel explains simply, “I want to minimize the number of deaths I am responsible for.”

When a boy in her Cancer Kid Support Group says he fears oblivion (the state of being forgotten by the public), Hazel replies in her wise and honest way, saying that one day everything will be gone and oblivion is inevitable, leaving the group speechless.

But by this time, cancer has completely invaded her body and identity. Hazel’s story is cancer, how it has affected her, and how she has bought herself a couple more years to live. There’s no going back now, no wondering what could have been if cancer had never showed up in her life—Who knows? Who cares? Hazel knows it won’t change a thing. But when she meets Augustus Waters, her entire life is turned around.

In spending time with Augustus, both expose, find, and realize their true and inner selves. On the surface, both are cancer-influenced people who have grown mentally older, wiser, and stronger. Hazel and Augustus discuss the deepest subjects and throw around a whole lot of fancy words. But underneath, both are still naïve teenagers learning how to navigate life.

Intuitive, fearless, poignant, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is a truly incredible story of life, death, and those in between. It will make readers smile, laugh, and cry all at the same time. I was not able to stop thinking about the story and its characters long after I finished reading, and the same will occur for you if you choose to read it. The Fault in Our Stars seems to reach beyond its pages, just like a pop-up book—but instead of paper figures popping out, it is the acute emotion that John Green paints painstakingly into his beautiful story.

“There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of the sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.”

-Hazel Grace Lancaster, The Fault in Our Stars

-Lam T.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

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