That young adult novels are taking the book market by storm! And have no second thoughts about it. And that a novel published in 2012 is still impressive, dazzling and inspiring readers – The Fault in Our Stars – is equally true! To begin lightly, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is a poignant and heart-rending young adult novel that delves into the lives of two teenagers, Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, who are living with cancer. The novel received widespread acclaim, critically and generally, and many readers appreciated it for many reasons. However, there were also a few concerns that a few critics pointed out. While it received appreciation for its emotional depth and genuine portrayal of young love in the face of adversity, the novel received criticism for its too-true-to-believe portrayal and toothless philosophical exploration of truths teens seldom care to vie for! Well, no one can deny John Green’s unique ability to combine humour, raw emotion, and profound insights into the human condition. However, the novel does have other dimensions that only critical readers can highlight. So, let’s get straight into the review and see what are the faults in these starts…
Summary of the Story and Important Episodes:
As many readers should already know, the story follows Hazel, a 16-year-old girl with thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs, and Augustus, a charismatic and witty amputee. As their stars aligned, they met at a cancer support group and soon formed a deep connection. Together, they embark on a journey to meet the reclusive author of their favourite book, seeking answers to life’s biggest questions. Though the nature of questions and ‘answers’ might vary in their appeal to readers, the episodes are indeed interesting. As their relationship evolves, they grapple with the fragility of life, the complexities of love, and the inevitability of loss. It is something we all may acknowledge that Green takes readers on an emotional rollercoaster, exploring the impact of illness on the young protagonists and their families. Here are highlights from the story of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green:
A notable episode is their Amsterdam trip, a wish granted by the “Genies” foundation, where they explore the city and share touching moments, deepening their bond. However, their encounter with their favourite author, Peter Van Houten, in Amsterdam proves disappointing as he fails to meet their expectations. This episode challenges their perceptions and forces them to confront the disparity between their idealised notions and the harsh reality of his bitterness. A turning point comes when Augustus reveals that his cancer has returned and is now terminal, shaking the foundation of their relationship and forcing them to grapple with the harsh truth of their mortality. The solace comes in the form of an unexpected letter from Van Houten that offers some closure and insight into the author’s past, providing a glimmer of redemption amidst their previous disappointment.
As the novel approaches its climax, Augustus’ condition worsens, and Hazel delivers a poignant eulogy at his funeral, expressing the profound impact he had on her life and their love’s enduring essence. This episode has been accepted as emotionally charged by many readers and also got approval from critics.
John Green masterfully crafts characters that feel authentic and relatable. Hazel is intelligent, introspective, and struggles with her mortality, while Augustus is charming, optimistic, and fiercely loyal. Even by this brief description, you can notice the juxtaposition. Their chemistry and witty banter create a compelling dynamic. Supporting characters, such as Hazel’s parents, add depth and emotional resonance to the narrative. Each character is multidimensional, making their experiences and emotions more tangible to readers.
Critical Commentary on Theme, Plot, and Writing Style:
The novel beautifully navigates themes of love, loss, and the pursuit of meaning amidst suffering. You can argue that Green’s exploration of mortality is touching and thought-provoking, as he confronts the universal human fear of impermanence. However, the emotions, at times, are artificial and almost shoehorned in the tight conversational passages that just do not look spontaneous and natural! Overall, the plot is well-paced, except for the moments of prolonged philosophical arguments that tend to become tedious, boring and sloppy! The saving grace comes in the form of moments of humour and heartache… though the heartache part doesn’t look pretty all the time!
Shortcomings of the Novel:
Despite its strengths, The Fault in Our Stars does have a few shortcomings. Some critics argue that the character’s dialogue, particularly the teenagers’ intellectual sophistication, may not always reflect the reality of their age group. And it is natural! Who cares about philosophy at sixteen or seventeen or even at 80 for that matter? However, this criticism in itself may sound bogus…. because, who cares who does what! Additionally, the novel may feel emotionally manipulative to some readers, tugging at heartstrings excessively. Well, it is something I felt at times and thought of sharing it here.
Comparison to Other Novels in the Same Genre:
The Fault in Our Stars stands out in the YA genre for its emotional depth. I may discount the so-called philosophical exploration. It just doesn’t add anything worthy to the novel with its emotional magnificence. I may even argue that John Green might have had a few pages short of his target length and thought nothing better than inserting those questions and answers about human mortality… kidding! 🙂 I agree that the novel is rare. It doesn’t shy away from the realities of life, death, and suffering, setting it apart from more formulaic teen romances. The novel’s blend of humour, tragedy, and introspection resonates with readers of all ages.
Ideal Readers of the Book:
This book best suits mature young adult readers and adults who appreciate heartfelt and emotionally challenging narratives. Readers who enjoy thought-provoking fiction with authentic character portrayals will find The Fault in Our Stars relatable and worthy. However, due to its themes of illness and mortality, individuals who are particularly sensitive to such topics may want to approach it with caution.
The Fault in Our Stars is indeed a powerful and moving novel. It certainly leaves a lasting impact on its readers. John Green has excelled at storytelling, creating compelling and unforgettable characters, and offering a profound exploration of life and love. These features make the book a standout in the YA genre. Though there are loopholes that readers can find, those are only for expert readers and critics who read books to find such shortcomings. Readers who read books to enjoy will find the novel’s emotional authenticity and thought-provoking themes very relatable.
You can get a copy of this amazing novel from Amazon India by clicking the link to the book below:
Want to read more books for teens? Check out this list – Best novels for teens.
Review by Ashish for ReadByCritics
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green Book Review
Emotional… a straightforward tale of love that teaches many things about life… somewhat tedious in its forceful philosophical exhibition, overall a satisfying novel!