I just know I’m going to get a lot of flack for this, but it must be said. The Fault in Our Stars is overrated. I usually find that most of this overrating comes from those who love all things John Green, and I can’t comment on that, because this is the only book by him I have read. I have no issue with the author, but I just do not get what he was trying to do. It has been a couple years since I read it, but I’ll do my best to pull specifics.
The premise sounds fascinating. I’ll just quote Amazon’s description here, because it has a part that I take issue with.
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.
The emphasis is mine. Hazel meets Augustus, and because he is “gorgeous,” is instantly okay with going over to his house to watch a movie. She doesn’t know this guy! Maybe being terminal makes you care less about taking precautions around strangers. Either way, I remember being peeved at this line: “A nonhot boy stares at you relentlessly and it is, at best, awkward and, at worst, a form of assault. But a hot boy…well.” Most of their relationship continued in this fashion. I just didn’t see what they saw in each other. I didn’t feel the connection.
In fact, I didn’t feel much, which is shocking in a book about children with cancer. But that’s just the thing, it didn’t really focus on that. Now, in some ways, that could be seen as a good thing: we focus on their lives, not their impending deaths, but that wasn’t really the case here. We focus on Hazel’s obsession with a book/author and Augustus’ hotness, and his focus on her. Call me crazy, but if I am going to read a book about children with cancer, I really want to feel it. Instead, it almost felt like pretend. And, I just didn’t get the whole author thing. The whole time, I kept thinking that John Green was writing about himself and how much he means to his readers.
My biggest issue though, has to do with the dialogue. It reminded me of Dawson’s Creek. Now, I loved Dawson’s Creek. I was in high school when they were in high school. I loved the drama. The love. The heartbreak. The characters. But, at the same time, I always found myself saying, “No one talks like that.” The vocabulary used is so implausible. I find it hard to believe that just because you are terminally ill you suddenly have all the wise sayings of a gray bearded wizard. Wouldn’t you be terrified? But suddenly, both Hazel and Augustus can spout sage wisdom? It wasn’t like either of them had really come to complete terms with the fact they were dying, if any of us really can. It felt like the author wanted every conversation to be quotable, even if it didn’t make sense in the situation or even if it was incomprehensible.
To pull back a minute, everything I disliked about this book had nothing to do with the actual cancer part of it. I despised the writing and rather loathed the characters outside of the terminally ill part. Put it this way, if they were completely normal people I could meet in high school, I would not like them. A bit pretentious. Not my style. It’s disappointing really. I had gone in with decent expectations. So many people loved it. But it wasn’t the story I wanted, nor was the one I was given interesting in any way.