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Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

By Storycarnivores @storycarnivores

Book Review: The Fault in Our StarsTitle: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Series: N/A
Publisher: Dutton
Publish Date: 1/10/12
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pages: 318
Source: Bought from Powell’s Books
Buy the Book: The Fault in Our Stars
Grade: A

Summary: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love. (via Amazon)

Brian’s Review: My first experience with death came not from real life but from the movies. After seeing Home Alone at the age of six I was Macaulay Culkin’s biggest fan – I remember spending long hours in front of the mirror practicing my big-mouthed scream—and I was uber excited to check out his follow-up, My Girl. I was only seven but I remember going opening weekend, at a small theatre in Sacramento, expecting a movie that would be similar in tone to Home Alone. What I got instead was a brutally honest and super sad coming-of-age story, where Culkin unexpectedly bites the dust in the end. While watching the scene where Anna Chlumsky walks past all the funeral goers and cries over Culkin’s dead body in the casket, I slowly realized what was happening on screen, and I remember crying against my mother’s shoulder. Macaulay was dead, and I didn’t know how to react. The idea of death hit my little brain for the first time, and nothing from there on out could ever be the same.

While reading John Green’s masterful and moving The Fault in Our Stars, I was reminded of that first experience with death, not just because there’s a scene toward the end of the novel that very much resembles that scene in My Girl, but because the whole book is about taking advantage of every day and appreciating all the small moments that make up a life. The novel is very sad – of course it is, considering its storyline – but it’s also life-affirming and strangely, in a way, uplifting. It’s one of the best YA novels I’ve ever read.

In February I started looking for new YA books to read – I was busy writing YA books but not consuming as many as I should have been – and an acquaintance recommended reading the books of John Green. I’d never heard of him, but I liked the sounds of his books (and the glowing reviews), so in March I checked out his debut novel Looking for Alaska (read my review of that book here). I was enchanted from page one. I couldn’t remember loving a book so much, and I gave it an easy A recommendation. I’m excited to read all of his books, but I was most excited to check out his newest The Fault in Our Stars, which has since January received the finest reviews of any novel I can think of. I bought it at Powell’s Books in Portland a few weeks ago, and it sat on the bookshelf above my desk, calling to me, begging me to read it. I kept putting it off, not because I didn’t want to read it, but because I knew I was going to love it, and because I knew it was going to bring me to tears. I’m not right about a lot of things in life, but I was right about that!

It usually takes me a week or longer to read a book, just because, even with the best, I like to take it in in small sips and really ponder what I’ve just read. But I read The Fault in Our Stars in two days. I decided for once I wouldn’t read a great book in small sips but devour it in large chunks. The story of Hazel and Augustus is so powerful and moving that once I hit the halfway point I literally couldn’t stop and had to find out how it would all end. John Green has said he struggled for many years trying to get this story down on paper, and I can definitely see why. Telling a love story between two teenagers dying of cancer is a tough plotline to pull off. In the hands of 9 authors out of 10, this book would no doubt be cloying and schmaltzy. But I don’t know how Green does it. He manages to infuse each character and moment with truth, with honesty, with tension, romance, sadness, and comedy. Just like in Looking for Alaska, we forget we’re reading a book after awhile, and soon become so immersed in the world of the characters that we feel like we’re living in it. I used to feel this way when I read books as a kid, but not so much in the last fifteen years. With John Green books, though? It happens. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

The Fault in Our Stars is the best book I’ve read since… well… Looking for Alaska. Stephen King has been my favorite author since the beginning of time, but John Green is slowly creeping his way up to take the horror master’s place. Everyone bow to Mr. Green. He’s my new inspiration.

WHAT I LOVED: Everything. The characters, the warmth, the heartache, the surprises, the masterful dialogue. John Green is my hero.

WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE: In the words of Leanne Howard, it ended.

GRADE. A. This wasn’t just a great book. The Fault in Our Stars has forever changed me. What better compliment can I give a book and its author than that? Wow.

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