About a year ago, I wrote a review of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, and described it as “the first good book I’d read in read in a long time.” After re-reading this book nearly a year later? Maybe not so much.
Disclaimer: While I no longer stand by my original review of the book, I won’t take back what I’ve said about it (meaning I won’t delete my whole rant about its awesomeness). It’s true that when I first read TFiOS, it was after a long reading break, after which I encountered a giant slump. And it’s true that when I first read TFiOS, I was a year younger and much less experienced than I am today. And while it’s not my aim to destroy the good name of John Green’s novels (I LOVE his Crash Course videos, and have found I am apparently a history nut, too), I’ve found the disparity between my original and updated ratings to be too large, and so I must express my newfound opinion.
WITH THAT SAID, The Fault in Our Stars did manage to make me feel many feels.
Hazel and Augustus were wonderful people! Which I think is perhaps what hurts the most in the entire book, because although they are fictional (well and truly), we come to love them. And let’s face it, when I read a book about CANCER KIDS, it’s always going to make me feel sad, because with CANCER KIDS, especially with terminal CANCER KIDS, someone is not going to make it to the end of the book. Which does make me very sad.
I also really loved the plot line. I think one of the many reasons I was able to love this book in the first place was because it wasn’t just about the romance. The plot focused on Hazel and Augustus meeting Peter Van Houten, the author of their favorite book. It’s about them wanting to do something bigger with their lives and not wanting to be “just cancer kids,” and it’s hard-hitting and real and powerful and raw. But I think the first time I read the book, this made up the ENTIRETY of the novel for me, and now it doesn’t.
So what made me NOT like the book as much as before?
Hazel and Augustus were wonderful people! Um, yes, this WAS just in the things I liked section. But the characters are simply not believable. I’m around the same age as Augustus and Hazel, and I have yet to meet any teen who talks the way they do. They launch into huge speeches and gesture at things and talk about oblivion and essentially sound like pompous sixteenth-century philosophers. I think that teens can have thoughts like these, but most of us don’t express them, at least not in this way. I’ve thought at least 50% of the things in this book prior to reading it, and yet I didn’t voice or express them, because it’s not normal. Augustus is the perfect guy. He was the star of the basketball team before he lost his leg, apparently very attractive, hyper-intelligent, talks like a pompous-sixteenth-century-philosopher, and is not selfish at all. His only hamartia, or fatal flaw, was his cancer… but technically that’s not a hamartia, because a hamartia refers specifically to a personality or character trait.
Cancer is not accurately portrayed. My aunt had terminal illness, and sadly passed away four years ago. And while I’d prefer not to know this from experience, I am familiar with the limitations of people like Hazel. My aunt could not walk very far, and had to be wheeled around in a wheelchair half the time. She couldn’t drive, because it was (1) tiring and (2) a potential safety hazard to those around her. I have also heard from other reviewers on Goodreads that they have (sadly) known people with Stage IV cancer, who were unable to venture out of the hospital.
The romance wasn’t… romance? I felt like Augustus and Hazel made better friends than boyfriend and girlfriend. I didn’t necessarily feel any love between them in a romantic sense; I saw the love between them as more like best friend love.
All the characters seemed like a small part of one bigger character. There were small differences between each and every character, but at some point in the book–despite other characterization–I felt that every character spoke like a Hazel or an Augustus, in a highly intellectual way. Even Hazel’s dad and her seemingly-not-hyper-intelligent friend Kaitlyn.
I didn’t get the logic behind the cigarette metaphor. I get it’s a metaphor. And I understand the “You put the killing thing in your mouth, but you don’t give it the power to kill you” thing. But there’s still some flawed logic here: when you BUY cigarettes, MONEY still goes to the CIGARETTE COMPANY, promoting the making of MORE CIGARETTES. So technically, if you bought them but didn’t light them or bought them and lit them, the overall effect on the cigarette company would have been the same.
So yes, overall, this review looks largely negative. But it was an okay book.
It’s not a book I wouldn’t read ever again, and it’s not a book I’d do a yearly re-read of. But it’s definitely a good story with some great points in it, hard-hitting, and real. For more praise, look at my review from last year. It’s a book a lot of people LOVED, so maybe it’s just not the book for me anymore. Either way, I still encourage you to read it and form your own opinions, because I certainly can’t do that for you.
Original Rating: 5/5 Wagging Tails
Re-Review Rating: 3/5 Wagging Tails