YA Book Club – The Fault in Our Stars

This month the YA Book Club, hosted by Tracey Neithercott, read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Let me start by saying I am a fan of Young Adult literature because I think it can be thought-provoking, can be well written and can be meaningful. This is so true for John Green’s writing. I was a smidge–just a smidge–reluctant to read this book because of all the hype online. But, there’s so much hype for a good reason.

I don’t totally know how to write about this book without coming off as a total fangirl. I’ve had to edit a lot of this post so it wasn’t ungodly long!

I saw the Seattle John Green reading/show/event in January, so I know how he feels about his articulate, sometimes overly mature characters that he often writes in his books. Yes, there are teenagers out there that are thoughtful and well read and this is typical for characters in Green’s books. It definitely elevates the writing and in this particular setting where the kids are at home, sick, and in Hazel’s case already taking college courses, it is fitting. The relationship between Hazel and Augustus is so wonderful. The characters are completely enamored of each other, but individually they have no idea how “utterly unprecedented” they are (123).

Simini Blocker's interpretation of Hazel and Augustus. Click on the picture to visit Simini's blog and check out many other great illustrations, including other YA fan art!

The trip to Amsterdam is so perfect and not perfect for the characters all at once. I appreciate that there was a wrench thrown in the cog during this trip that should have otherwise marred their vacation. And even with that wrench, Amsterdam was what I think everyone wishes a trip with a significant other would be like. There is a special meal where Hazel and Augustus get to ” ‘ “[taste] the stars” ‘ ” (163). I felt submerged in their world in Amsterdam and relished every moment. I could picture the springtime snowfall and the streets of Holland.

This may seem little, but I liked Hazel’s attitude on breakfast and how eggs are categorized exclusively as a breakfast food. 🙂 I learned during my trip to Sweden that meatballs and bread and oil can be breakfast faire.  Hasn’t everyone thought about (when dining at a we-serve-everything-all-day kind of food joint) that they would like the fish and chips for breakfast? Or a salad? This is just a small part of her characterization that helped Hazel come to life.

Hazel’s parents are well written–they seem like the ideal support system. They don’t lock up Hazel or pity their daughter to a fault. Their grief, their angry parent moments (and Hazel’s typical teenage moments) relay a balanced parent-child relationship but not a necessarily perfect one. How could Hazel ever understand how her parents feel about the inevitable loss of their only child? Hazel’s dad address that beautifully on page 278 when he relates her feelings of loss to the way they’ll feel when she passes. I get teary just thinking about this all over again!

What I loved the most is how Green addresses death and being remembered. I think so many people want to leave their mark and be remembered when they die. Augustus even has the numbers for how many dead people there are to living people. Hazel says it best when she says to Augustus, “‘You say you’re not special because the world doesn’t know about you, but that’s an insult to me. I know about you'” (240). Everything about these characters is raw and felt. I think the reader expects them to be angry, bitter, sad and holed up, but they emanate love, truth and peace. Is it possible for a book to bring you some peace about life and death? I think this novel may have done that for me. The fact that Hazel and Augustus live such short lives but love so much in that short time definitely left me feeling like their lives were filled to the brim. They came, they saw, they conquered, right?

“‘It is a good life, Hazel Grace'” (236).



Filed under Review, YA Book Club

22 responses to “YA Book Club – The Fault in Our Stars

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  3. Oh, I love Simini Blocker’s work! Good idea including that image here; it so perfectly portrays Hazel and Gus. I totally agree with your thoughts on the parents in TFIOS. It’s so nice to see well-written, true-to-life parents in YA. Usually they’re absent or jerks or flighty, so it was refreshing to read about the relationship Hazel (especially) had with her mom and dad.

    Have you dropped by Tracey’s blog and added your name to the link list? Other Book-Clubbers will be able to find your post that way. 🙂

    • I feel like I could have said more about the novel, and more eloquently, but I’m hoping the next book choice is less… filled? 🙂 Just so much loveliness!

    • I woke up “early” to be sure to add my name to the list and then the first time it didn’t work. I am so NOT computer illiterate, but my recent activities make me feel like I am. 🙂 Have fun tonight, Katy!

  4. Rebecca B

    Reading “It is a good life, Hazel Grace” at the end of your post made me choke up all over again.
    I was more than a smidge nervous about reading this one–I mean, I preordered it and I knew I would read the book, but I didn’t see how it could live up to the hype (my own and others). It actually surpassed my expectations, though.
    I love the illustrations from Simini Blocker! I hadn’t seen them before–thanks for sharing.

  5. Beautiful review, Kari! And I love that picture .D

    Your words and the quotes you´ve chosen put me right back into the book. Emotional.

    “Everything about these characters is raw and felt.” I agree with you. That´s why it is so powerful, I think. Their story touches us at many different levels.

  6. I totally agree with your review. I love that illustrated picture of the characters!

    The Amsterdam scenes were my favorites. I had grown to care about Hazel and Augustus so much and I enjoyed seeing their love story unfold.

  7. Great review. I totally found myself wanting to visit Amsterdam after reading this–Green did do such an excellent job portraying the city.

    And the parents! I didn’t remember to include them in my review, but Hazel’s mom just broke me in half. When Hazel was remembering her mom saying,” I’m not going to be a mother anymore,”it absolutely killed me. Some of the truly poignant moments involved Hazel’s parents, and I thought that was such a unique thing for YA. Realistically, kids are constantly dealing with their parents, teachers, etc., but from reading YA you’d never know it, lol.

    • I didn’t know what to write about–I loved so much of it–so that took a couple hours of writing and then editing just to fine tune my thoughts. I do love a great parent-kid relationship in YA, and it is rare!

  8. I loved her parents, especially her dad – the way he would get choked up with emotion…

    Love that you included so many quotes in your review!

    • Thanks! Yeah, I’m a momma’s girl and to see such a lovely relationship between Hazel and her dad was very refreshing and different from what we see in most YA, I think.

  9. Yes, you chose lovely quotes and a perfect illustration. Great review!

  10. I love that illustration so much! It’s so perfect!

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