Hi, everyone. Today we will be discussing The Fault In Our Stars, which was this month’s selection for the A Beautiful Mess book club. I hope you enjoyed the book as much as I did! Although I feel almost bad typing that, as so many painful things happen within the pages of this book.
First off, you should know that this discussion (and probably many of the comments to follow) will contain SPOILERS!!!! So if you haven’t finished reading the book, I’d highly recommend holding off on reading this until you have.
Personal Thoughts on this Book:
-I had heard this book was geared for the “young reader” audience. I remember this being mentioned to me with just a tiny bit of (I thought) snobbery behind the comment. And I must say, the book is a quick read and, yes, is based on teenage characters. But the subject matter (life + death, infinity, love, etc.) includes such big things to be dealing with at that age. And the characters behave and deal with these realities with way more maturity and wisdom than I think most adults I know (including myself) would.
-I love how self-aware, but also how unashamedly bookish, this book is too. 🙂 Let me explain. Hazel herself states that cancer books suck. But she loves Imperial Affliction, which is a (fictional) cancer book. And The Fault In Our Stars is certainly a cancer book. But the book is also highly aware that it’s a cancer book and strives (and in my opinion, succeeds) at being so much more. I also love when an author very plainly and unashamedly loves to reference and nod to literature. This book makes numerous references to great literature such as The Great Gatsby, Ulysses, many great poets, and of course, Shakespeare. I have a feeling there are many references that I didn’t even pick up on, as I am certainly not the most well-read person in the world.
-I love when a book surprises you, not because it literally gives no clues to what may happen, but because it causes you to get so absorbed in the story that you ignore said clues. There are SO many foreshadowing examples that basically spell it out for us that Augustus will die first. He always hangs up the phone first. Both characters press “play” on the in-flight movie at the same time, but Augustus’s starts (and ends) first. Hazel is our first-person narrator, and since Imperial Affliction ends with the death of its first-person narrator, it seems unlikely The Fault In Our Stars will. But I was still shocked when Gus tells Hazel about about his diagnosis. I suppose it’s because I was beginning to believe, like Hazel, that they would be together until she died (which I was beginning to hope would be at least some years out). John Green, you totally got me!
-I think I cried at least a little every time I picked up this book. A few times I was reading on a plane, and I was trying *so* hard not to cry so I didn’t look like a crazy lady to my fellow passengers! Feel free to chime in with your tissue count.
*What do you think about Hazel’s initial reason for not wanting to let Augustus into her life? She talks a lot about trying to minimize her grenade effect on the world. She feels she will not be able to stop the pain that will surely come to her parents when she passes, but do you think this is the real reason why she seems to spend most of her time alone or with only her mom? Although a heroic thought–to minimize hurt to those we care about–is this really possible to the degree Hazel would like? Does it then make Augustus less heroic because he knows of his cancer but still chooses to fall more in love with Hazel while on their trip to Amsterdam?
*What do you make of the notion that the universe wants to be noticed? This is something that Hazel and her dad (who cries SO much in the book! He’s so sweet-seeming) discuss, and Hazel thinks more and more about it at the end of the book.
*Probably many of us can identify with Augustus’s wish to live for a big reason, or die for epic cause. He often sacrifices his life while playing video games with Isac for the sake of saving others. Is this a good or bad thing to want in life? I mean, is this something any of us can ever control anyway? Augustus seems to be disappointed that his life will not mean something more. But does life ever mean more? I think for me, watching Augustus (and Hazel) discuss and wrestle with this idea reminded me that I ought to always work to take whatever is in front of me and maximize those experiences. As much as any of us might wish for a grander life, we will only get one life (the one we are living now), and we just have to make it the very best it can be. But perhaps that’s too easy for me to say, since I don’t have cancer and don’t have to face death today like Augustus did.
*I’d love to hear your thoughts on Augustus’s unlit cigarette. Did you love it? Did you hate it? I thought it was an annoying little quirk at first. Apparently I’m kind of a jerk. 🙂 But then I realized (slowly, because I’m also not that profound of a reader) that this was probably more of a symbol for Augustus. It was his control over his health/life. He was denying death and its power every time he held a cigarette in his mouth but didn’t light it. But of course this control is an illusion. One day we feel we have it, and the next day we don’t. For Augustus, I guess he probably felt he lost it once he drove late that night to buy cigarettes but then had to call Hazel (and later an ambulance) to help him because he wasn’t strong enough to accomplish this task on his own due to his sickness. I cried when Hazel gave him a pack of cigarettes at his funeral.
You do NOT have to discuss these ideas. It’s just a jumping-off point. Let us know: Did you like the book? Hate the book? Get bored with the book? Cry your eyes out with the book? Are we all making plans to see the movie together???
Thanks for joining me this month! And don’t forget that in March we’ll be reading The Lowland. xo. Emma
Hi. Thanks for your book review. You are good at writing reviews. I like it. Also i liked the book. Maybe because i’m a bookaholic. Right now i read http://justreadbook.com/book/1146306208/dorothy-and-the-wizard-in-oz . I love this genre too. It’s one of the 100 books to read in a lifetime. Hope you take my recommendation into consideration . Thank you.
I seem to be a few months out with the book club, but I dont mind. I’ll just always play catch up as I love borrowing books from my library.
I really loved this book. What a fantastic choice! It really did leave a bit of a dent in my heart afterwards. It reminded me about all the small things in life that are wonderful and that you should not fear life worrying what any actions cost might be.
It makes me want to drink champagne in spring.
I did really enjoy this book, but like some others have mentioned I didn’t think it was ‘amazing’. I’m not even really sure why. I watch a lot of John Green’s videos on youtube and think they are great and often hilarious, but somehow I don’t feel the same way when reading one of his books…
To be honest, I wasn’t sure at all about this book, it seems to teenagery. BUT, I have to admit, this was a vero good read that I devoured in just few days. At the end of the book I just couldn’t stop crying, the prefuneral was so sad and full of positivity at the same times.
I really feel related to Augustus, not that I’m sick or something but I do think we are meant to live a great life on earth and leave something behind like great children perhaps!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Emma !
I guess I`m a bit, or maybe a LOT, late to join in on the discussion, but I ADORED this book. I too had trouble putting it down and finished it in a little over 24 hours (which is saying something, because I have a 3-year-old and 13-month-old…) Although it was not AT ALL what I was expecting, I was pleasantly surprised and REALLY enjoyed it. There were lots of teary moments, but by far the most heart-wrenching for me was when Hazel overheard her mother saying to her father “I won’t be a mother anymore”. Having lost my own mother far too soon, becoming a mother myself felt like I was filling a hole in my heart that had been empty since she died. The thought of losing that piece of my heart again just tears me apart. Even thinking of it now has me in tears all over again.
I have recommended this book to several people, although always with the proviso that they should be in the mood for a good cry and have a box of kleenex handy… I myself was in a funk for almost a week after I read it, just because the topic was so heavy and the emotions it unearthed took a while to calm down.
I never chimed in, but I guess it’s helpful for you to know who’s reading along with you. I am! This book was a fast read (except for crying breaks.)
I’ve dug into Lowland, it’s excellent. (A little more my style, but The Fault In Our Stars really was great.)
Anyway, thanks for helping me accomplish one of my goals for the year, which is to make time to read again.
I’m a bit late adding my part as the book had 33 people on the wait list! Thankfully I got it last week and it took me a day, and I had to go to work so I really must have raced through it!
I connected strongly with Hazel’s fear of being a grenade, (this is not a sob story i’m about to share, promise) When I was in a bad car accident as a teenager the strongest memory I have is when I woke up a week later and saw my family and all the message’s people had left. The GUILT that hurting other people accidentally through life and death situations was the most powerful feeling I had at the time, I couldn’t remember the accident so it seemed very secondary to me in regards to how people’s emotions had been hurt. I guess for me it’s not the fear of oblivion (like Gus) but the fear of the mess that gets left behind.
Also the fear Hazel has of falling in Love due to the terminal situation of her cancer really resonated with me, The thought of me dying and leaving my partner alone is for me, is as worse as him dying on me. I have recommended this book to everyone I have seen in it’s aftermath, my friends, colleagues and even local barista. Fabulous!!
However, I agree with other commenters, the trailer does not seem…. the best. I guess characters that affect you are very personal to everyone and also very hard to personify.
I just finished this a few weeks ago and WOW. I ignored for the longest time, but after scrolling past quotes approximately 100 times a day on Tumblr, I had to give it a shot; they’re obsessed with good reason.
While it was definitely a young adult book, it was extremely well planned and written. It has a way of capturing your complete attention without really trying. The emotions are so real and it captures the reality of cancer without being, well, the “cancer books” that Hazel hates so much.
My fiancé’s life was almost lost to cancer as a young teen. We worry every time he visits the doctor or starts feeling ill; Green perfectly describes the apprehension that cancer (and all illness) holds on us.
I’ve heard so much about this book that I really want to read it. I read a bit about what you wrote and don’t mind the spoilers. It just made me want to read it more. 🙂
I have just this minute finished the book and my face is covered in tears x I am 32 but I totally loved their relationship and the funny ways they had with each other. I thought it was a really nice easy read and had me totally hooked.
Did anyone notice, just like Anna that the book ended and we don’t quite know what happened? Like we know she got too sick to keep writing (narrating) a clever little ending I thought.
Loved it thank you xxx
I agree with most of your comments, especially how the characters are so mature and brave in the ways that they deal with life. The book definitely taught me how cancer patients really feel, and I hope more of them can live their lives like Hazel and Augustus, although I know this has to be FAR from easy. I felt like I was living my life in such a cliche while reading this book, like walking around appreciating everything a little more. Then I realized that’s exactly what I should be doing. I will definitely be seeing the movie 🙂
I’ve loved the book, and I sure used my fair share of tissues while reading it. 🙂
I simply adore John Green’s writing. Despite being marked as YA fiction, his books contain so much wisdom that’s valuable for adults, too.
What I thought of as remarkable was how strong all the characters were! Hazel and Augustus behave so maturely considering their ages. It also moved me how their parents are trying to cope with them having a deathly disease. I imagine it to be the hardest task to care for your child knowing it might not be long until they’re gone forever. It makes my heart ache just thinking about it.
I wanted to say something about the writing style (I know, being Italian, the writing itself is not my field of expertise…): I enjoyed it very much because, even being so easy to read, it is written in an extremely elegant and vivid way that I found it incredibly interesting and brilliant! Actually, I loved the book so much that I also bought the italian version for my mother, but unfortunately the translator didn’t catch the style I enjoyed in the original one.
I loved the book and thought is was beautifully written. I read it on the beach in Maui and definitely got some looks as I bawled through the ending. But I literally couldn’t put it down! I was intrigued by the characters and thought they were very well developed. And I especially loved that Green developed Hazel’s platonic, almost sisterly, relationship with Isaac, in addition to her romantic relationship with Augustus.
For me that book was a big disappointment. After reading amazing reviews I was expecting something really moving and I was left with memory of one of my favorites movies “a walk to remember”. I feel like its a different story but the same concept. That’s why I didn’t enjoy the fault in our stars, I felt like it was an easy way to play on people’s emotions. And I get why everyone cry while reading it – two dying teenagers – but there was nothing more to it for me. The only character I liked and could possibly imagine as a real person was Isaac. His desperate need of keeping everything as it used to be is wąsy to relate. Maybe I’ve just put my hopes to high but I’m 17 and I thought it was supposed to be a perfect book for someone my age.
When I started the book, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, as I had a bit of a struggle immediately connecting. I was wrong. I ended up LOVING the story and was bawling my eyes out at the end. I definitely want to reread this and take my time to savor it.
Last year around this time, I was looking for books to read, and my friend suggested this one. I looked at the synopsis and knew I couldn’t read it right then- last year around this time, my Stepdad was very near passing away from cancer. I was glad this book was selected now because, though difficult, reading it was cathartic. I know, as I’m sure many readers here do too, the sound of the breathing machine Hazel slept with and the sight of a hospital bed in the living room. I know what it’s like to see parent dying and think to yourself- well, if at 26 I wasn’t an adult before, I sure have to be one now. A year has passed since my Stepdad’s death, and people, understandably so, seemed to have let it drift… death is a hard thing, and people want you to feel better. I get that. But the thing is that for the people closest, it doesn’t really drift; it’s always there. So reading this book was so timely at a time when I was mad, at the world, I guess, for forgetting. I felt somehow like these fictional characters “got me”, and I them, and it also reminded me of the vastly different ways people understand death- and yet somehow, at the core, the general themes are so similar.
It seems odd to put this out there to people I don’t know, but I read this blog every single day, so perhaps it’s not so odd after all 🙂 So thanks for selecting this book, and thanks also for writing this blog, because it brings me happiness every day.
I read this book soon after it came out and I was bawling like a baby! I thought the book was so well written and I loved the nods to other literature like you mentioned. I am excited about the movie and I hope that it lives up to the standard of the book. Since John was on set a lot of the filming and he did the film adaptation I think it should
I really enjoyed this book, even though it took me few chapters to get used to how hazel is presented; the way she was written just didn’t appeal to me at first. I posted a book review on my blog today if anyone wants to read it.
Overall I thought it was a good piece of YA fiction. I really liked Augusts’s unlit cigarette. I think it gives him some level of control over his health, something he doesn’t really have on a day to day basis. By not lighting the cigarette he’s holding something deadly so close to himself but not giving it the power to calm him.
oh and i sobbed. ALOT!