FeaturedSuspension of Disbelief

SOD: The Fault In Our Stars

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
So I realize I’m coming a little late to the TFIOS party. It’s been out for quite some time now and was just listed as a top book of 2012 on a bunch of end of the year lists. However I only got my hands on it for Christmas, and am only just now getting my thoughts about it in enough order to write about it. I also think that if you haven’t read it, it is my duty to inform you of its awesomeness and thus get you to read it. So, with the disclaimer that (I hope) all of you have already read this book, let’s get to the meat of things.

The Fault In Our Stars is the story of Hazel, a girl diagnosed with cancer who likely does not have a whole lot of time left. She meets Augustus at a support group, and the two begin to fall for each other. Hazel resists because of her disease, but over the course of the book she learns something about using the time she has. My first impression of The Fault In Our Stars was extremely good. It was the kind of book that I couldn’t put down (I finished it the day I got it, even with Christmas brunch and dinner with the family), and by the time I finished I was so engaged with the book that I spent the next hour bawling my eyes out. It took me a bit of time to really give some thought to the book, and whether it was more than just an engaging read, and with some space, I can firmly say that it is.

Many people like to disparage teen literature because they feel that it’s shallow or poorly written. This is in no way true of The Fault in Our Stars. It has some beautiful imagery and wonderful writing, as well as a number of deep insights into what it means to be human, how we grapple with the reality of death, how love can bring meaning into our life (without resorting to fairy tale cliches), and how we relate to other individuals. Even as a slightly older individual, I found myself really grappling with some of the themes brought up in the book and mulling them over after I had finished it. That’s a mark of a good book.

In addition, I felt that while the plot may have been slightly unrealistic (certain events in it are clearly vehicles for metaphors), the characters are well built and complex. The book clearly focuses on characters over story, and I find that an important thing to recognize. It has been criticized as containing a manic pixie dream girl (or perhaps boy). The book is from the perspective of Hazel, and she has a great deal of autonomy, some flaws, some beautiful traits, and a great deal of humanity. I don’t think the criticism holds true for her. However at the beginning of the book, Augustus does take on the role of manic pixie dream boy. First, I think it’s interesting that Green genderbends the stereotype, but more importantly, all of his literature is about seeing human beings complexly, and by the end of the book Augustus has grown into a rounded character with real flaws and with more going for him than charming good looks and a quirky personality.
If you’re looking for a book that will grab you and throw you into the emotions of its characters while asking you to seriously review your priorities in life, then this is the story for you. It is beautifully written and entirely gripping.

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Olivia is a giant pile of nerd who tends to freak out about linguistic prescriptivism, gender roles, and discrimination against the mentally ill. By day she writes things for the Autism Society of Minnesota, and by night she writes things everywhere else. Check out her ongoing screeds against jerkbrains at www.taikonenfea.wordpress.com

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