Lisa & Holly’s Book Club Review: The Fault in our Stars

John Green1Hazel and GusCategory: Young Adult Fiction

Title: The Fault in Our Stars

Author: John Green

Publisher: Dutton Books USA 2012

 

 


Summary: 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.


My Review: This is a widely reviewed, New York Times best-seller, movie adapted cult book that has many of its readers enthralled. There isn’t anything I am going to say here that hasn’t already been written, but I’ll write it anyway and add to the thousands of reviews. My review and the book club discussion questions are below.

Please add your review, comment or response to the discussion questions below to this blog post or tweet to me @LisaFleetwood

Hazel Grace Lancaster Has Cancer. She wasn’t supposed to be alive – but then the miracle happened – a new drug trial that worked. She knows she is on borrowed time and didn’t expected to fall in love, and so when she did – (with one of the many great quotes from the book) ‘I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once’ I think all the readers fell in love with Augustus Waters too.

The reading of the book was a little like that for me, it did start slowly, and I found myself putting it down a few times in the beginning (first 50 pages). It could have been because I knew what was going to happen or it could have been that it was Sydney Writers Festival week and I was a little absorbed with that – but whatever the reason there was a moment for me when I was reading it slowly, and then I read it all at once.

There is so much love in this book, the love of a parent, the love that Hazel Grace and Augustus share and the love between friends, but they face harsh realities and it is a reminder for the reader to re-evaluate life, to remember how precious life is – even if its just for a while – till we forget and become caught up in the petty things again. And then hopefully another book comes along to remind us again. A book can change us, a story can make us think – and if a story manages to do that, then to me, its a good story.

I am so glad Holly wanted to do this for our Book Club – we have talked about it so much over the month. It reminded me of the fragility of life, falling in love, and the pain of losing someone you love. As a parent of two teenagers, it was sometimes a scary read – its any parents worst nightmare to have to watch your kids go through pain, but there is balance in the book and although there is pain – there is love, and it was a beautiful book to read. There are too many wonderful quotes from the book to mention, too many well written, insightful phrases and and too many metaphors to list here – so I recommend just reading the book yourself. If you haven’t already.


My Rating: 4 stars.


Discussion Questions:

  • How do Hazel and Gus each relate to their cancer? Do they define themselves by it? Do they ignore it? Do they rage at life’s unfairness? Most importantly, how do the two confront the big questions of life and death?
  • Do you find some of the descriptions of pain, the medical realities that accompany cancer, or the discussion of bodily fluids too graphic?
  • At one point, Hazel says, “Cancer books suck.” Is this a book about cancer? Did you have trouble picking up the book to read it? What were you expecting? Were those expectations met…or did the book alter your ideas?
  • John Green uses the voice of an adolescent girl to narrate his story. Does he do a convincing job of creating a female character?
  • Hazel considers An Imperial Affliction “so special and rare that advertising your affection for it feels like a betrayal.” Why is it Hazel’s favorite book? Why is it so important that she and Gus learn what happens after its heroine dies? Have you ever felt the same way about a book as Hazel does—that it is too special to talk about?
  • What do you think about Peter Van Houten, the fictional author of An Imperial Affliction? This book’s real author, John Green, has said that Van Houten is a “horrible, horrible person but I have an affection for him.” Why might Green have said that? What do you think of Van Houten? Why were Hazel Grace and Augustus obsessed with finding out what happened after the book ended?
  • Green once served as a chaplain in a children’s hospital, working with young cancer patients. In an interview, he referred to the “hero’s journey within illness”—that “in spite of it, you pull yourself up and continue to be alive while you’re alive.” In what way does Green’s comment apply to his book—about two young people who are dying? Is theirs a hero’s journey? Is the “pull yourself up” phrase an unseemly statement by someone, like the author or any reader, who is not facing a terminal disease.

 

John Green AuthorAuthor Bio: John Green’s first novel, Looking for Alaska, won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award presented by the American Library Association. His second novel, An Abundance of Katherines, was a 2007 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His next novel, Paper Towns, is a New York Times bestseller and won the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best YA Mystery. In January 2012, his most recent novel, The Fault in Our Stars, was met with wide critical acclaim, unprecedented in Green’s career. The praise included rave reviews in Time Magazine and The New York Times, on NPR, and from award-winning author Markus Zusak.


 

 

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