I guess I am a little bit behind the times with writing a review about The Fault In Our Stars. It was written in 2012 and it has just been made into a film I have heard so many people rave about this movie that I decided to get myself the book and then catch it at the cinema. I really have missed the hype on this as my local cinema isn’t even showing it anymore but never the less I have only just read the book and deem it worthy of a review on this blog due to about 40% of it being set in or about Holland. Here is my honest review, views are my own and purely down to my opinion after reading this.
This book apparently spent 78 consecutive weeks in the best sellers chart and I can see why really. It’s a nice book and not too brain taxing. Being deemed the “best selling love story of recent times” – can I agree with this? Well I suppose I can. The title was taken from a Shakespeare references so I’ll give one back, this is very loosely similar to “Romeo and ” and I suppose after one died I was kind of expecting the other one to go to (whoops: spoiler alert!).
Quick overview of the main story. The book is about Hazel, a 16 year old girl with cancer resigned to needing oxygen pretty much 24:7. Hazel meets 17-year-old Augustus (Gus) who is in remission from Osteosarcoma who lost a leg to the aggressive form of cancer. Hazel is a very grown up 16-year-old girl in my opinion reading it from a 22 year old perspective. There is a lack of sensitivity to cancer in this book that shows a different perspective to the other books about people with cancer that I’ve read. Her inner monologue is honest and believable, even though written by a man, Green gets the attitude perfect I’m not saying that men cannot write from a female perspectives just the same as women cant write from a male perspective but to write a story from the point of view of a 16 year old girl dyeing from cancer he does a splendid job.
You do fall for their love story just as much as you fall for their battles with cancer. It is easy to celebrate their little successes and I must openly admit Gus is written as quite the charmer and you cant help but fall in love with him. The Guardian called it “smart” which I thought was a strange way to describe it until I had read it but it is crafted in such a way that it becomes about the two of them rather than the cancer. Good Housekeeping: “As funny as it is heartbreaking” this is do agree with because for me I didn’t find it hilarious and I didn’t find it overly emotional, perhaps worthy of a lump or two in the back of your throat but I can assure you I cried a lot more in One Day written by David Nicholls.
In the book the first part is all about the build up to their little trip which turns out fruitless but that’s when you realize it’s a book about them and their relationship with each other, the world, their illnesses and the relationship they build up with the reader. The best review for me which I whole heartedly agree with and the one that really convinced me to buy the book was from The Daily Express in which they said the book was: “filled with dark humour and written with a beautiful simplicity that draws the reader in so deeply that its not just the twists and turns but the gentle bends and curves the you feel tugging at your emotions.” For me that review sums it all up in a way I could never have put together. It is the small things that bring it all together, the believability of the characters, of their relationships and the heartache when the inevitable happens. The entire book grips you but it doesn’t demand your sympathy, just like Hazel, Gus and the other kids don’t demand and leniency from the world. I read it in 2 days. It is very unputdownable I would say due to the simplicity of the writing, the easy pace of the story and its charm.
Green’s depiction of Amsterdam is a strange one I thought. Obviously one of the major pulls for me to read this book was its plotline in Holland. The story isn’t really about the Dutch but its setting description is a nice section. There was one or two occasions when I thought to myself “Has Green ever been to Amsterdam?” The story makes Holland seem rather simplistic but I don’t think it was written in order to be a travel brochure. Green writes about Amsterdam in a romantic way and for the purpose of the story it is where they are brought closer together. One slight point that made me really laugh was the trip they took to the Anne Frank Huis. I did this myself last month and found the queue immensely long, literally two blocks or more, even the prepaid tickets queue was 30 deeps! It brought back a rather cute memory for me as we had done just that when we got there and saw the state of the wait as they do the very same in the story.
All in all I cant say I didn’t love it because I did. Will I read it again? Of course. It is a lovely story and one I think every teenage girl would like (minus the illness). It is written in a way that the romance and emotion overlooks the sadness and there are some fabulous quotes that you can pick out from it. The last page put a delightful smile on my face and I’ll be honest I did read it twice, I could have read another chapter and another and another. It really is a lovely story and as the Daily Express said it was the gentle bends and curves that really do tug on the heartstrings just as much as the shocking twists. I can’t wait to see the film now but I’m not sure if it will damn my current high expectations or perhaps I am better with the blockbuster version in my head!