September 3, 2014

Book review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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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.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

When I saw the "Loved By Others" square in the Reading Outside the Box challenge, one book immediately came to mind: The Fault in Our Stars. No, I've never read it. I've never read anything by John Green before, and this was as good a time as any to start.

The book was extremely readable. I finished it in two days, which is fast for me. It felt like reading a letter from a friend. One page flowed into the next, and before I knew it, I was done with the book. Kudos to John Green for creating such an engaging narrative and not wasting pages with unnecessary words!

Maybe it's because I've read so many great reviews of The Fault in Our Stars, but I went in expecting something ... special. However, the novel didn't quite deliver that. Don't get me wrong, it was a good book. But it lacked that something that made it great, something that resonated with me, in the way that other much-hyped novels did, like The Hunger Games. For example, from everything I'd heard about The Fault in Our Stars, I expected the story to turn me into an emotional wreck. I did felt sad for Hazel and Augusta, but not to the extent that I was expecting. I felt like I knew Hazel through the great way that her character was developed, but I wasn't drawn into her world to the extent that her stakes were important to me. Maybe it's because I couldn't related to the cancer aspect of the story. Or that Augusta seemed too perfect to be true. Or that all of the teens, even their friend Isaac, sounded way too intelligent and philosophical to be believable.

The best parts of the novel for me were the ones involving An Imperial Affliction. I like how Hazel and Augusta bonded over the book and how their journey to meet the author was the highlight of The Fault in Our Stars for me. Yet it's An Imperial Affliction's author, Peter Van Houten, who summed up my feelings best when he told Hazel, "That novel was composed of scratches on a page, dear. The characters inhabiting it have no life outside of those scratches. What happened to them? They all ceased to exist the moment the novel ended." That was the problem with The Fault in Our Stars. It's like a letter from a friend, which you enjoy while you're reading it, but after you're done, you discard the letter and move on to something else.

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