Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars

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Title: The Fault In Our Stars
Author: John Green
Publisher: Penguin Books India
Genre: Romance/Drama
Price: Rs. 399
Pages: 313

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.

I know that almost everyone of us have heard about this book and the wonderful things that people have been saying about it. Almost every Facebook update had a quote from this book and almost everyone spoke about how much they cried when they read the book. I bought the book only for its hype. I loved reading 'A Walk To Remember' and that is a stand out book for me. And I knew deep within my heart that nothing can surpass that book. But since everyone around egged me to read this one, I fell prey. The book is about Hazel and Augustus. And Peter Van Houten and his book 'The Imperial Affliction'. Hazel has thyroid cancer and Augustus has just been declared NEC (No Evidence Of Cancer). Hazel is sixteen and Augustus is seventeen. They meet at a cancer support group led by a certain Patrick, who has lost his nuts to testicular cancer. No, I'm not trying to be rude here, but that is how they say it in the book. Augustus falls truly, madly and deeply in love with Hazel after knowing her for a week or two. Hazel reciprocates too, just like the way it is expected to happen in any book. But she has cancer and her days are limited. Augustus has lost his leg to cancer and Hazel loves him inspite of that. Sweet! Soon, as expected Augustus's cancer returns to plague the lovers and their newly found bliss. What happens next? If you know what a cliche means then you would have guessed the ending by now.

The first time I read the book, I yawned like a hundred times before I could finish ten pages. No it was not past bed time, it was a bright shiny afternoon. The story started off with a drag and continued to drag. I put the book aside and pick up other books that I had to read and review. Normally I wouldn't put a book down until I had finished it, but this one did not show any promise to go on with it. Then again after more positive reviews and cajoling from my dear blogger friends, I picked the book again after assuring them that I would throw the book at them if I still did not like it. I started re-reading the book. This time with 'A Walk To Remember' out of my mind and with zero expectations. Nothing changed in the story and my feelings. The story was boring than ever and cliched beyond any comparison. But this time I noticed the beautiful English used and the wonderful narration by the author. And sadly, that is the only good thing about this book.

The book is all about cancer yes. And it boasts of not showing it in a disastrous way or with an angle of tragedy. Cancer is dreadful disease and it is disastrous to the human affected by it and the people around. There have been a myriad of movies and stories revolving around this disease and this book is just another drop in that ocean. Yes, the book doesn't show cancer as a tragedy. The author takes a very nonchalant approach towards the disease and the use of sarcasm/humor in the plot feels like mockery instead. The way the concept of Augustus's friend Isaac losing his eyes was handled was pure callousness. One more thing that bugged me throughout was that the protagonists were too mature for their age. They are teenagers for God's sake. But they are shown to be so wise that it put the twenty eight year old me to shame. And it comes out so fake that you think that Hazel and Augustus have been through centuries to understand the beauty of life and death. The book claims to have staccato bursts of humor and tragedy. I could not find both. More than anything else, the book borders on mockery and cliche. And boredom.

This did not happen to me!

I have seen cancer every closely. My maternal grand mother struggled for more than a year with thyroid cancer before she finally left us. If anything, cancer is about pain. The pain of the victim is much lesser than the pain of the people who have to see the victim go through it. This book hardly talks about pain except for the regular shedding of tears by Hazel's father. The whole angle of Augustus using his wish to take Hazel to Amsterdam to meet Peter Van Houten, so that she gets to hear how his book actually ends, was a bit too much to digest. Silly actually. Infact, the whole angle of Peter Van Houten was unnecessary. Yes, he is the one who culminates the book, but if it was something else then probably this book would have been better. Every word of the story was predictable and after I finished this book, I had new found respect for 'A Walk To Remember' and the movie 'If Only' (I don't know why, but the ending of this book reminded me of this movie. Spoiler alert?). There are a few good lines/quotes in this book though. The only time I smiled while reading this book was when I came across the line 'You gave me a forever within the numbered days'. That is a brilliant line and I wish it was a part of some other book.

The only time that I shed a tear while reading a book was when Don Vito Corleone dies in 'The Godfather'. And it is status quo until today. I did feel sad and borderline depressed after 'A Walk To Remember' and 'P.S I Love You'. They are books of true romance and love. I loved every word of them and have lived their characters. This book could not do any of that for me. Hazel was a girl who walked around with her oxygen tank without which she could not breathe and whom she called Philip. She is shown to be too intelligent wise for her age, as she understands and accepts death, and yet she sleeps with her teddy bear whom she calls Bluie. Augustus or Gus is the charming elf who sprinkles Hazel with pixie dust and gives her hope even when he loses all of it when his cancer returns. He walks around with an unlit cigarette. I don't know why he did not light it, since it was not lung cancer that he had battled and survived earlier. The story continues to drag till the end. Maybe this is not a bad book. Maybe I have just read better ones.

You will get this if you have read the book.


Verdict: Great writing and narration. The hamartia of this book, is its story and its characters.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

21 comments:

  1. You have hurt me :-(
    *sniff* *sniff*

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    1. Koi baat nhi :(
      I forgive you
      Just because it's you :)

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  2. :( I loved the book and thought it was great YA fiction. I think the characters being mature made sense because of what they've had to go through in their lives. Plus Hazel is shown to be intellectually gifted which again is an indicarion of why they are so mature. And while it wasn't all doom and gloom around cancer, I think John Green did a good job at making sure you make the best of what
    t you've got...you continue to live your life and not just rot away like the disease wants you to.

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    1. I don't know why but I did not get all this when I read it! :(

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  3. Lol! Clearly this was not the book for you :D I loved P.S. I love you but A walk to remember didn't do anything great for me . Kinda was lukewarm

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  4. :-) Some books may not be comparatively better than the ones we already read. :-) And true about P.S I love you. I cried like a 4 year old reading that one.

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  5. I had the exact same reaction when I started this book. Honestly, even I din't find it very original or engaging. Nor did I shed bucket load of tears like everybody else. Not even a sniff actually! It just felt like a mix-up of a lot of other books I've read. And of course I had to endure days of how-could-you-not-like-this-amazing-book-you-cold-hearted-person reactions :D
    Like you said it's not a bad book, it's just not worth all that hype is what I feel!

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  6. I thought the book gave me a practical reality of what people go through and the maturity of the characters was due to what they are put through. Maybe I am wrong, maybe not. My aunt passed away due to cancer and I know the book does not exactly deal with how people normally react to the disease and their life being cut short. At the same time, I felt this is a different angle.

    But I agree it wasn't as great as P.S. I love you or A walk to remember and also it wasn't as much as the hype said it would be, but at the same time I never compared. I read this with a neutral mindset and I liked it. :)

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    1. I guess the expectations never left me while reading this!

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  7. Oh my god! This is exactly what I felt after reading this book. I didn't get anywhere close to emotional also, I don't understand what all the hype was about. Like you've said, we have read better books, for sure!:)

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  8. I actually really loved this book because I found Hazel's voice to be so similar to the way I discuss things with myself, and I guess that really made it easy for me to become this character. That being said though, I still didn't shed a tear :)

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    1. Maybe you connected with it somewhere. Sadly, I didn't!

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  9. I didn't like the book much either. I picked it up seeing all the hype it was getting but I couldn't connect with the characters either. The only reason I completed was because I have to complete any book I start reading :P

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