Author: John Green
Publication Date: 1/10/12
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Blurb (GR): 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.
The Fault in Our Stars currently has a rating of 4.74 on Goodreads, almost everyone I know has given it 5 stars, therefore I'm certain no one would want to read my sour musings, except me and maybe a couple of other like-minded and unimpressed.
What I'd love to know is this - what makes a writer undertake the topic of cancer? So much has already been written about it, so many Lifetime movies filmed, so many tears shed. It literally has been done to death. What new did John Green have to bring to the cancer table?
The way I see it, nothing. Having your terminally sick characters be ironic about their illnesses and swap cancer jokes isn't groundbreaking.
The Fault in Our Stars isn't a bad book, but it's a standard cancer book, and, sadly, a standard John Green book, with standard John Green humor and standard John Green characters speaking in the very same John Green voice.
You have a witty and intelligent protagonist (this time 2, Hazel and Augustus - a female and male versions of Miles/Quentin/Colin), a funny, slightly pathetic sidekick (Isaac - another version of Hassan/Chip/Marcus), a mysterious, unhinged girl, Gus's dead ex (Alaska/Margo clone), and, of course, the signature ROAD TRIP. I can't help but recognize these people and this plot, I've read all of Green's novels.
I understand why so many readers would have such an emotional response to the book. Nothing will get the ladies crying quicker than a kid dying of cancer. Add in some long farewells, painkillers, eulogies and funerals - you can collect buckets of tears. But, IMO, here Green aims for the most obvious, the most easily accessible emotions, for the most typical "life lessons." And for all Green's attempts to be subversive and to make fun of "cancer cliches" - inspirational quotes, heroic cancer survivors, etc. he ended up writing about exactly the same things.
Frankly, I think The Fault in Our Stars is Green's weakest work to date, weaker even than half-baked Zombicorns. Because this, unlike his earlier works, feels commercial and intentionally tearjerky and insincere. It will probably sell the most copies.