Review: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars

I’m in two minds about this books. On one hand, I thought the emo­tion­al side of the sto­ry, how the writer treats ter­mi­nal can­cer, the depth of expe­ri­ence the char­ac­ters go through, was full of con­vic­tion and real­ly thought pro­vok­ing. On the oth­er hand, the char­ac­ters them­selves (espe­cial­ly wun­derkind Augus­tus) were often unbe­liev­able and tend­ed to neat­ly per­form the aims of the sto­ry, whether or not that made them less believ­able. My main com­plaint would be Augus­tus — most­ly because I hon­est­ly don’t believe in him. Peo­ple that per­fect aren’t allowed to wan­der around out­side of romance nov­els — and the romance in this book trod a lit­tle too close to hap­pi­ly-ever-after fairy­tales. For­tu­nate­ly, Green pulls this back with a healthy dose of real­ism; fol­lowed by some heart­break­ing emo­tion­al lows which will guar­an­tee that you sob at some point while read­ing this book.

It’s a pret­ty smooth, easy read; a bit much over­worked teenagery slang and some staged dia­logue. The plot jumps about a bit and I thought it could have been bet­ter paced but this is most­ly made up for with a well round­ed main char­ac­ter who is lik­able and dis­tinc­tive. Not that you need to be lik­able, but I think that makes the emo­tion­al impact of the sto­ry so much more affect­ing. Not sure if some of my com­plaints would both the tar­get audi­ence of teens quite so much (maybe they do use that slang in the US?) and as I’ve lent my copy to a younger read­er, I may yet get a sec­ond opin­ion. It is a book to lend with a warn­ing though — this is not a top­ic for the faint heart­ed and Green is not going to jol­ly you up with hap­py end­ings for every­one.

In the spir­it of hon­esty — I was giv­en a copy of this for free by Pen­guin who were hand­ing it out to employ­ees. They can’t make me read it and they can’t make me like it, but I nev­er say no to a free book. Although it isn’t some­thing I’d have read oth­er­wise, it’s nice to broad­en your read­ing pool; and in the end I think this is a book that real­ly has some inter­est­ing things to say about both can­cer, death, and being a teenag­er. Nor­mal­ly I’d avoid a book that made you mis­er­able, except in this case the sor­row real­ly is bit­ter­sweet. You cry and at the same time you see won­der­ful life can be despite the mis­ery. All in all, a rather uplift­ing read.

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