Green, J. (2012). The Fault in Our Stars. New York: Dutton Books. ISBN: 978-0-525-47881-2
Realistic Fiction, Romance, Tragedy
Reading Level/Interest Age
Lexile Reading Level: 850/Ages 14-17
Hazel and her parents would give anything for her to be a normal teenager. Enter Augustus, the “new kid” and her first romantic interest in years. Can Hazel handle a relationship? Can her cancer?
Forced by her parents to attend a Teen Cancer Support Group (more for the social than the support aspect), seventeen year-old Hazel wishes should could skip the whole thing and watch America’s Next Top Model on the couch. One week she meets Augustus Waters, a cancer survivor, who attends to support a friend. Hazel is drawn to the guy who won’t stop staring and he invites her to watch a movie. Hesitant to form a relationship due to her disease, Hazel wants to keep things platonic. Augustus charms his way into her heart, especially once he falls in love with Hazel’s favorite book, An Imperial Affliction. Tormented by not knowing what happens to the characters after the book ends, Augustus convinces Hazel to join him in using his Wish from the Make a Wish Foundation to travel overseas to meet the author. But once they get home, their relationship will never be the same.
Critical Evaluation (SPOILER ALERT)
Green’s writing in The Fault in Our Stars is amazing in multiple ways. He is able to create a perfect balance between comedy and tragedy. This is evident right away when the main character, Hazel, talks about how much “cancer books suck” as well as the way the characters are able to light-heartedly discuss their “cancer perks”. Green creates a beautiful love story while keeping the cancer in the back of the reader’s mind just as it always is with the characters.
The story is told from Hazel’s point-of-view and the reader sees Hazel undergo a major character development throughout the book. She begins as a loner who would rather watch television than make friends because she knows she is dying and doesn’t want to cause pain to anyone she doesn’t have to. However, her mother practically forces her to try and make friends and Augustus begins to chip away at Hazel’s iron wall. She realizes her feelings for him and attempts to shut him out romantically. But once they share the same love of Peter Van Houten’s An Imperial Affliction as well as the desire to question the author himself, Hazel’s wall crumbles and she finds herself hopelessly in love. At the same time her world shatters as she learns Augustus’ cancer has returned and he too is dying. For the first time in the book, it seems the fact that Hazel is dying isn’t what’s at the front of her mind.
After searching tirelessly, it appears that Peter Van Houten’s An Imperial Affliction is not an actual book but yet another literary creation of Green himself. Green’s ability to practically write a second novel within his novel is a talent to envy. He made An Imperial Affliction so believable that someone even made a Goodreads profile for it.
About the Author
“John Green is the New York Times bestselling author of Looking for Alaska,An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and The Fault in Our Stars. He is also the coauthor, with David Levithan, of Will Grayson, Will Grayson. He was 2006 recipient of the Michael L. Printz Award, a 2009 Edgar Award winner, and has twice been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Green’s books have been published in more than a dozen languages.
In 2007, Green and his brother Hank ceased textual communication and began to talk primarily through videoblogs posted to YouTube. The videos spawned a community of people called nerdfighters who fight for intellectualism and to decrease the overall worldwide level of suck…Green grew up in Orlando, Florida before attending Indian Springs School and then Kenyon College.” (Green, 2012).
This book could fit in well with themes such as Health and Relationships.
How did Hazel’s family and friends treat her compared to healthy teens?
Do you think her relationship with Augustus was a good risk to take? Would you have done it?
This book might be considered inappropriate by some due to its strong theme of death and dying.
If confronted for this issue I would:
- Refer to the Library Bill of Rights (Items I, II, and III). http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill
- Refer to the many excellent book reviews found everywhere from Amazon to Time Magazine.
- Contact the Office of Intellectual Freedom if needed.
- Refer to the library’s collection policy.
- Have an easy to access copy of the library’s Reconsideration Form if a challenge is inevitable.
Why was this included?
I had seen many of the positive reviews about this book and witnessed the frequency it was being checked-out from the library. When I was assigned this book for class, I couldn’t put it down (the first time that’s ever happened with an assignment). I predict this book will stay with its readers for a lifetime. The complex themes, relationships, and characters all intertwined perfectly to create something that I consider to be close to “literary perfection”. Young adults will be able to relate to the characters because the characters are still facing many of the same issues that teens today face (i.e. death, love, and friends) even though they are terminally ill.
Green, J. (2012). John Green’s Biography. Retrieved September 6, 2012 from http://johngreenbooks.com/bio-contact/
Metametrics. (2012). The Lexile Framework for Reading: The Fault in Our Stars. Retrieved September 6, 2012 from www.lexile.com/fab