The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our Stars is pretty hot right now. It’s been very popular, not to mention the fact that the movie adaptation is being released tomorrow. I read the book firstly because I’ve been wanting to for a while now but I was also rushed by the fact that I hate having books spoiled for me, even in small ways. With all the chatter surrounding the movie, I wanted to read it for myself before I saw or heard something that I would wish that I hadn’t. It was also helpful that my sister owns a copy that I was able to borrow.
I found that I enjoyed the book quite a bit, especially the beginning. The first few scenes after each of the major characters are introduced were particularly good and solidified my affection for them. As you may know if you’ve been following this blog, if I like the characters, it’s much easier for me to enjoy the book as a whole, and this book didn’t make that difficult for me in any other department either.
Although the subject matter was serious, the writing itself didn’t feel overly heavy or relentlessly depressing. In fact, there were several times when I found myself laughing, but the extraordinary thing was that the lighter moments didn’t overwhelm the story, either. They didn’t at all detract from the more serious events of the plot by lessening their gravity in any way. The balance this book managed to achieve was absolutely fantastic.
Speaking of the more serious subject matter, the way it was depicted seemed absolutely true to life. It’s obvious that the author did his research well when it comes to the medical aspects of cancer, but I’m talking about more than that. The characters’ emotional and mental states as they worked through the reality of their conditions and the events of their lives in general felt real in a way that not all books can manage. It didn’t oversimplify or fall back on common tropes or put a gloss over any harsh realities. It strove to tell the story as it really was (or would have been if it actually was real and not a work of fiction), and I think that it succeeded in that.
Personally, I could have done without a few of the explanations of that, though, like those times when the narrator Hazel actually talks about how stories about kids with cancer normally go and what she sees as being wrong with them. It just felt to me like the author stepping in to point out that he was telling his story “the right way”, which I think the reader could have concluded, or not concluded, for him/herself. I was also a little disappointed by the included explanation of the novel’s title, although, to be fair, it is a YA novel and not all young adults would have caught the Shakespeare reference in the same way that I did or would have analyzed it to the same extent.
These things, and a few other moments that felt just a bit “writerly” to me are probably just a result of me being the sort of person I am– an adult (as opposed to young adult) writer who has taken quite a few college-level literature courses. Of course, that did also mean that I was able to pick up on quite a few of the other literature references in the text. It’s not that they were really hidden, but I did smile a bit seeing familiar poems and other things like that. Perhaps in the end it balances out.
I would definitely recommend giving this book a try. Yes, even if you plan to see the movie. Do I plan on seeing it? To be honest, I’m not sure. It’s not high on my list of priorities, especially because I almost always enjoy the book much more than the adaptation to begin with, but we’ll see what happens. For now, I’m rating this book at four stars.