This is my 1st book for 2014. I have read it as part of the 130 Challenge.
I like John Green, I really do. He writes just like he talks. It is funny, engaging and sometimes enlightening.
But this book left me a tad disappointed. I believe it is his first book and he must have done better later, so I forgive him (It was pointed out to me that Looking for Alaska and not this book, is John Green’s first novel). But, I don’t understand why people have rated this book so highly. Most reviewers give it 5 stars and I think that is what disappointed me. I took up the book thinking that it will be the most amazing book ever, and though it was good it wasn’t what I expected.
The protagonist is Hazel Grace. She is a terminally ill girl of above average intelligence and has a lot of wit (or so it seems). This story is about her dealing with her daily life which includes a lot of interaction with her crush (and eventually, boyfriend), Augustus Waters. Other characters are just stunted side characters with nothing much in the way of traits. Hazel’s mom is an overbearing mom who doesn’t know any better. And all we know about her dad is that he is an emotional mess and cries a lot (I’m serious).
The character of Augustus, I suppose is inspired from his quirky personality. Which is nice, but starts to drag after a while.
He has also tried to offer a lot of sage advice, speaking through the author of ‘An imperial affliction’, Peter Van Houten. The advice is good in a lot of places, but mostly sounds confusing and feels half-hearted and forced and dare I say, condescending.
Quick fact: ‘An Imperial Affliction’ (a fictitious book from the novel), probably appears more times in the book than Hazel and Augustus’ names put together. Now in the book, there are parts where Hazel keeps repeating ‘Augustus..’ and Augustus just says ‘Hazel Grace.’ instead of ‘Hi’ throughout the book; so that is quite a fucking lot!
This is in fact something that annoyed me to no end. All that Hazel seems to do is read and reread that damn book. I can’t understand how someone who is as intelligent as her (that too at 16, mind you), became so wise, when all that she seems to do is suffer from cancer and read a book about cancer, which also happens to be an incomplete book.
The story has a good flow. But, it is filled with characters that seem to be poor imitations of John Green, complete with his trademarked sudden exclamations. That includes Augustus’ father, who never fails to refer to Hazel as ‘Just Hazel’ because she once admonished Augustus when he called her ‘Hazel Grace’.
The romance between Hazel and Augustus is cute and the way Hazel wants to keep Augustus away for his own benefit, is sweet. The story sounds insipid at first, but later becomes quite intense and I liked that sudden change of tempo. I really like how Hazel handles the whole thing. She is really something!
What really stood out for me was the ending. It was brilliantly narrated and was very heartfelt and genuine. The characters suddenly seem to grow wise towards the end and start spouting these wonderful things out of their mouths, which you don’t expect them to be capable of saying. Not that I’m complaining.
If found the book to be good with a sprinkling of good stuff every now and then. It is worth a read, but if you don’t read it, you won’t be missing much.
I have collected all the nice bits as Quotes from ‘The Fault in our Stars’. Feel free to read through, and don’t worry as there are no spoilers (I hate spoilers).
Rating: 7/10 (I want to be generous, but no)