I read The Fault in our Stars perhaps for the same reason others did. The film came out.
Now I am not opposed to film adaptations, but I never knowingly watch one without reading the book first. A nasty habit of mine I know, at least for those around me, as I will then criticize a film completely on the basis as to whether it stays true to the book. This film is currently in my DVD pile, unopened, waiting for my critique!
In short, the novel is about a teenage girl with cancer. But what I loved about it is that it is not a novel about a teenage girl with cancer. One of the greatest successes of the book, I think, is the main character Hazel. Of course, it wouldn’t say much for a novel if the first person narrator and main character was not liked! But I have on occasion found myself in love with a book but still unable to fully connect with the protagonist.
This was not the case with Hazel Grace.
John Green has managed to create a sense of realism with his protagonist. There is a certain truth to the way in which we see Hazel’s world. Her cancer does not define her, instead she is defined as being a teenager, which of course she should be.
This for me is where I found the connection. Everyone can relate to those unpredictable years, hormones, sex, parental control is all thrown up in the air, the relative safety of childhood is gone. Of course, this does not diminish the fact that Hazel is coping with a death sentence over her head. However, it is the author’s ability to see beyond that, to make Hazel far more than just a girl with cancer that really stands out for me.
Although the novel is a love story, it goes beyond that. For me the greatest triumph of the author is his focus on life. In so many ways, this could have been a story about death, about the inevitability of it, the debilitating affects of disease. Instead, although cancer is not shied away from in the novel (in fact the honesty of it is quite beautiful), the way in which life is embraced, even in unimaginable circumstances, radiates throughout the novel.
I would give this book a solid 8/10. I thoroughly enjoyed it…and any book that can make me cry for a solid two chapters is a winner for me! I would definitely recommend it beyond just the expected young adult audience. For me, it is a realistic, witty and heart-wrenching read and I could easily read it again with a box of tissues to hand!