Friday, May 9, 2014

Em's YA Review - The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene

Em's YA Review


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.

Em's Review:

I decided to read this book because before I started it, I read a really sweet and cute book and was kind of disgusted by it. I needed a book with heartbreaking characters to pull me back to reality. The first thing I noticed about this book was that it got straight to the point. It got right into the story and pulled me along with it. The next thing I noticed was that Hazel, the narrator, was extremely pessimistic. She was all like, “I’m gonna die” and, “I’m just a human side effect.” It hurt my soul. The cover has a turquoise background with one black and one white cloud. The title and author’s name is written in a chalk-like font. There are no pictures inside this book.

The theme or “So What” of this book is struggling through life. When Hazel Lancaster was thirteen years old, she was diagnosed with stage 4 thyroid cancer with metastasis forming in her lungs. Hazel joins a cancer support group when she is sixteen, where she meets Augustus Waters. Augustus had osteosarcoma, bone cancer, in his leg, which they amputated. Gus and Hazel become great friends and Hazel recommends Gus reads An Imperial Affliction, Hazel’s all-time favorite book. The book ends midsentence so Augustus emails the author, Peter van Houten, and Peter invites them to Amsterdam so her can tell them the ending. Augustus uses his “last wish” from the Genie fund to take them to Amsterdam. They meet the author who is a total, “Douche.” They then make their declarations of love and Augustus tells Hazel his cancer came back and he has about two months to live.

The main characters in this book are Hazel, Augustus, Peter van Houten, and Isaac. Hazel Lancaster has lung cancer; is sixteen years old; has brown hair and green eyes; is nice yet pessimistic; has a mom and dad; and desires to keep Augustus with her. Augustus Waters has bone cancer; is seventeen years old; has brown hair and blue eyes; is funny and smart; has a mom, dad, and two older sisters; and desires not to hurt Hazel because he may die. Augustus is my favorite character because he is smart, metaphoric, and funny. Peter van Houten is an author; is about fifty; has light brown hair and pale blue eyes; is evil and nasty; had a daughter who died of cancer; and desires to get her back. Isaac has eye cancer, so he is now blind; is seventeen years old; has blond hair and sunglasses; is optimistic and sweet; has a mom and a little brother; and desires to be able to see.

My favorite passage from this book is a portion of the eulogy Hazel read to Augustus, so that he’d know what she’d say at his funeral if he died. 

“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There's .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I'm likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful.” 
Aww! Wasn’t that sweet! I just love this passage. I think it is a great analogy and I love that Hazel is so thankful for the three months she knew Augustus before he got sick again when she knows she could have had much more time with him. This passage also shows how aware Hazel is of the fact that everything can be taken from you at any moment.

I connected The Fault in Our Stars to the song The Remedy (I Won’t Worry) by Jason Mraz. This is a text-to-media connection. Prior to writing this, I did some research on The Remedy and I learned that Jason Mraz wrote it for a friend dying of cancer. I connected them because, in both articles, there are questions about why bad things have to happen to them. In The Fault in our Stars, Hazel says she is not sure why Augustus is the one who is sick. In The Remedy, Mraz says, “It kind of makes me nervous who says that you deserve this/and what kind of god would serve this?” This shows that Mraz doesn’t think his friend deserves to be on the brink of death. I also connected The Fault in our Stars to the song Only the Good Die Young by Billy Joel. I connected them because they both mention the fact that you must live life to the fullest. In The Fault in our Stars, Hazel and Augustus go to Amsterdam, and they are only teenagers. Billy Joel says, “I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints/the sinners are much more fun/you know that only the good die young!” He’s saying that he’d rather have fun than sulk around all his life.

I do not agree with the blurbs on the inside flaps because they don’t tell me anything about the plot. This book surpassed my expectations. I read this book in one sitting; straight through, for about four and a half hours. This book was sweet at times, yet remained painful enough to resemble reality. It was also extremely philosophical and put the world in perspective. I have also read Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, and An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. I think John Green is a thanatophile, a person obsessed with death. In all his books, there has to be death lurking quietly in the shadows. I do think that the intermediate grade level student can relate to the characters in this book because everyone has loved a person who has passed away or is ill. I would recommend this book to a classmate as long as they are aware that this book makes you want to go cry in a hole. This book is not for the faint of heart.

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  1. What a great review! I haven't read the book but I have read nothing but good things about it. I'm glad you liked it too. (Ashley @ Closed the Cover)

    1. Thanks Ashley! I'll let Em know (she's my 12yo daughter). She wrote that review for her English class and presented it last term. After she did her presentation, about half the class has started to read it - which means I have to wait until we get it back from whoever she lent it to before I get it! (And yep, I'm a proud momma!)


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