Friday, February 24, 2012

Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (or, WHY?!)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Dutton (an imprint of Penguin Teen), 313 Pages
Released: January 10, 2012

Challenges: Completely Contemp Challenge

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now. 

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
------------------Goodreads summary

Notable Quote
(I can't tell you how hard it was for me to not just paste the ENTIRE GODDAMN NOVEL here)

"I love you present tense."

I'm starting this review not even 20 minutes after I finished reading the book, and that's probably a big mistake because my eyes are still that sort of blurry and my face is still wet and my nose is still in that awkward snotty-drying-up phase that makes me all sorts of sexy, but I'm feeling all the feels and want to type now. I'll probably do a Save Draft and come back later to make this coherent and worthy of being read by the public, for now, this'll have to do.

There were a lot of ways I wanted to start this review:
1) I wanted to say how I'd heard so many things about it already and knew it was a complete sobfest that alters your world, and that was weighing heavily at me as I began. And I even tweeted this:
And it was like 15 pages in I was laughing and falling in love with Gus already and all I could do was whimper after every laugh because I could feel that all these giggles were at the brink of something else, too.

2) I wanted to start with a series of "Why" questions, such as: WHY JOHN GREEN, WHY?! and WHY, Gus, WHY?! and Why did this end?! and Why did I do this to myself?! and Why can I not stop wanting everything from this book?!

3) With that quote that every reader immediately picked out of the first 40 pages as an Absolute Truth:
“‎Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.  And then there are books which you can't tell other people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.”

4) or tell you how I actually did not want to read this book because I feared how much it would make me feel. I was so scared that it would reach into some of the most hidden corners of my mind and turn me inside out and make me cry and scream and yell and love so hard it would ache (which it did, but I'll get to all that later.)  In fact, the only reason I did finally read it is because I wanted to participate in Tracey's YA Book Club (thanks Jon for posting about it!) and their pick was TFIOS.

Truthfully, I, too, believe in that quote from #3, and I know I'm going to do it a disservice by talking about it. I didn't even want to call this a "review" so much as a "discussion" (perhaps even a "coveting") because sometimes there are words that are grouped and placed together in such a beautiful, special sequence that they can make a novel that speaks directly to the deepest recesses of your soul and you know that nothing will ever possibly come close to expressing how it makes you feel.  This book is an Emotion in itself.

You should really read the book. I don't want to say much more just have to experience it.  And I will pitch it like this:

The Fault In Our Stars will fill your heart with love, and make you feel so privileged to get to know Hazel and Augustus, and make you laugh as you see their relationship build and what it means to their lives as Cancer Kids. And this book will make you bawl, it will tear your heart out and make you question humanity and mortality and oblivion and infinities and what it really is to be a grenade in neither the Jersey Shore nor Bruno Mars* way.  You will close the book often while reading it because it positively overwhelms you to the point you have to consciously tell yourself to breath; and then you will open the book back up just as quickly because it feels wrong to not keep going with Hazel. You will feel lucky, as though your own lifeline has expanded, to befriend Hazel and Augustus; you will be grateful to have witnessed their time together; and you will weep as you understand just how sincerely that they do not have "if"s, only "when"s.

And it is perfect.

Rating The Fault in Our Stars feels insufficient because it's so much more than stars, but because I am nothing if not consistent:
5 Stars / 5
(and thousands and thousands of constellations more)

PS. A note on the actual writing of it, John Green is a freakin' master. How he writes through the characters as though he is speaking directly to the reader is brilliant. I felt like Gus was apologizing to me for hiding it, I felt like Hazel was texting me why she couldn't hold his hand, I felt like I was listening to Van Houton spew asswad things to me. A MASTER, I tell you.

PPS. While I'm happy for John Green that this has been optioned as a movie, I am so unhappy with that. I cannot imagine this as a film because part of experiencing this story wholly was reading the descriptions and just following along with it. I feel like having the visual clues and environments will...detract from it all. But you know, I'll see it of course, and hopefully it's done in a different way that I'll also love.

*in the interest of full disclosure, I do not watch Jersey Shore, and I absolutely abhor Bruno Mars. So yeah, I'm making A LOT of fun of them. :)

What did you think of the book? Love it? Didn't like it?  What was the first line you cried at?


  1. TraciFebruary 24, 2012 at 7:07 AM

    I've heard such buzz about this one! I really want to read it. Glad to hear you give it the stamp of supreme approval!

  2. BittnerFebruary 24, 2012 at 7:44 AM

    I loved your review! It really made me laugh! I have kind of a sad story associated with TFIOS, I started reading it on Jan. 10th and found out my uncle passed away on Jan 12th. I forced myself to finish the book because I was going with some friends to Austin for the Tour De Nerdfighting, but the entire last half of the book was just words on a page for me. I did love the characters though and I loved the writing enough that I know I want to go back and reread it maybe in a few months.

  3. ElodieFebruary 24, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Great review!!! And wow I am impressed you can so eloquently discuss the book after just finishing it :D

    I think you summarize the entire experience of reading TFIOS when you say: "This book is an Emotion in itself"

    And that quote...*takes deep breath* ...."I love you present tense.": beautiful!

  4. Ghenet MyrthilFebruary 24, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    Great review! I also loved this book and agree that John Green is just brilliant.

  5. CrystalFebruary 24, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    I love how many people in the YA Book Club picked different quotes. This book is infinitely quotable. "I love you present tense" was a really fantastic one that I'd completely forgotten about. So simple, and I am pretty sure that it was one of the lines that elicited a whole new wave of sobbing. Can't remember for sure. There were so many waves of sobbing, lol.

    And I, too, fell for Gus almost immediately. How does John Green DO that???

  6. Traci @ The Reading GeekFebruary 24, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    Great review! I can't agree more! I can't get over just how much I adored this book! I laughed and cried. I pretty much turned into an emotional mess. I agree this is definitely a book you need to experience! John Green is an amazing writer!

    Traci @ The Reading Geek

  7. UnknownFebruary 24, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    GREAT review! This book...gah! This book just slayed me! And everyone is just writing the most heartfelt, amazing well written reviews about it! Awesome review Ashley:)

  8. KariFebruary 24, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    You said all the right things! How to pick just one quote? (I'm attempting to do so for Memorable Monday on my blog.) I wasn't able to write my "review"/discussion until a couple days after reading and I still feel like it was a lot of dribble. Good job being succinct and saying everything that I was thinking. ;-)

  9. jonyangorgFebruary 25, 2012 at 12:54 AM

    I'm not sure how I'd feel with this as a movie either. I think it would be overwrought and so much of the beauty of the book was about their thoughts, and that won't translate well except to like, melodrama.

  10. AnnaFebruary 25, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    Oh this book! THIS BOOK! Sob, sob and sob some more! I loved it!

  11. Andrea @ The Overstuffed BookcaseFebruary 26, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    Such a beautiful book. I'm curious to see what they do with the movie as well... I just don't know how a movie could convey ALL THE THINGS that are in this book! But of course I'll go see it and most likely love it unless they totally butcher it. Great review!

  12. EspanaMarch 8, 2012 at 7:01 PM

    Cathartic and raw, I recommend this novel to all readers--not just the young adult readers it was seemingly intended for. J. Green has again outdone himself. In one word, TFIOS is BREATHTAKING.

  13. Lauren @ Lauren Reads YAApril 3, 2012 at 3:19 AM

    I love this book so much. <3 I still have to write a review on it but I can't put it into words how amazing it is.

  14. Catherine SiborutoropApril 4, 2012 at 6:52 AM

    I haven't read this book. But I do have read tons of great reviews on this book! And now I'm DYING to read it! I didn't read emotional books lately (over this year, actually), so I'm wanting sooo bad to read this one. Great review by the way :)

  15. Noely JeleenApril 6, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    TFIOS blew me away, in an absolutely good way. I don't even know how to put to words how much I love it. I think it's right to say that TFIOS has changed for the better the way I see things in my life.

    I cried, I laughed, I came down to a lot of realizations as I join Gus and Hazel's journey. Hazel and Augustus are, obviously, not perfect but you just have to love those two.

    TFIOS is definitely a masterpiece! <3

  16. Grace YoungJanuary 15, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    Oh my lord. I want to read this book sooo bad. Pretty much all my friends have read it...I put it on hold at the library: "You are the 33rd hold on the first available copy of 17 copies." So it must be amazing :D


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