Title: The Fault In Our Stars
Author: John Green
Publisher: Penguin Books
Year originally published: 2012
I’m sure that The Fault In Our Stars hasn’t escaped your attention. You’re probably sick of Stars-related reviews. It’s just one of those books that can’t help but permeate the sphere of one’s consciousness. It’s been riding high in the bestsellers’ list for weeks and weeks. It’s been displayed in prime position in just about every bookshop I’ve walked into in the last few months. Oh, and it’s reached saturation point on the blogs I read, even making that rare jump from reviews on the book blogs to lifestyle and even beauty blogs. In short, it was solidly on my TBR list, and my expectations were high.
The question is, were they met? Well, it’s pretty hard not to love the book. I instantly identified with the main character, Hazel, who seemingly has all the traits I saw in myself when I, too, was an angsty adolescent. She flips out at her nervously helicoptering mum. She runs off with a gorgeous boy even when her parents advise her against it. She prefers literature to real life: she’d rather sit on a bench and read her newly purchased novel at the mall than chat with her best friend. But there’s one thing that sets Hazel quite apart from that group of rebellious, bookish sixteen-year olds of which I was once a firm member. She’s got terminal cancer.
But hold on a second before you dismiss The Fault In Our Stars as a depressing cancer novel. The Fault In Our Stars is not merely about cancer. It’s about grabbing the gift of life while you have it, about enjoying every moment you’ve got, because let’s face it – we spend our lives dying, always unsure how long exactly we’ve got. Hazel is like a bud in the novel, tightly closing in on herself because she’s afraid of her grenade-like potential, convinced that the fewer people she surrounds herself with, the smaller the radius of the shrapnel blast that will inevitably happen when she ‘bites it’. It’s only with the appearance of athletic, totally fanciable Augustus that she slowly starts to open up and shake off the dependent traits that cancer has fostered in her character, which is wonderful to read. It’s rare to see such palpable character development – or, conversely, to see such physical change in characters over the course of a novel – and I’m sure that it’s this character growth that had me sobbing so hard at the end of the book.
My verdict: 4/5
The Fault In Our Stars is eminently readable, and should be read, I think, by all members of my generation. We’re at that age where everything seems conquerable and life seems to stretch on endlessly ahead of us; we feel constantly invincible. Reading this book made me profoundly aware of my own mortality, especially as the characters were a good six years younger than me. I’ve definitely read books that are written much more elegantly, with more thrilling plots, but this is not the point here. For me, this was a story about celebrating the relationships that you’ve built up, being grateful for good health, and savouring every moment you’ve got. I’m excited for the film – but I’d better bring a big packet of Kleenex.