“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
I'll warn you up front - this is a long review. But the book was great and I had a lot of thoughts about it. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m writing book reviews these days mainly so I can track what I’ve read and recall if I liked it or not. If my musings also help you choose something new to read, then fantastic for both of us! Now, here we go…

“Given the entertainment bacchanalia at the disposal of young men and women of your generation, I am grateful to anyone anywhere who sets aside the hours necessary to read my little book.”
(Quote from a letter written by a character in the book named Peter Van Houten. Van Houten is an author in the book and as far as I know, is completely fictional. That quote is so true though and something all REAL writers should always remember!)

The Fault in Our Stars
By John Green

This is an extremely well-reviewed (almost 6,000 write-ups on Amazon and counting) and incredibly popular book. It absolutely deserves all the praise it’s getting. In fact, there is a movie adaptation coming out next year and I have one piece of advice regarding that: take lots of Kleenex.

I bought the book in Kindle format on Amazon for $3.99 - a fine price for this well-written, well-crafted novel. You can easily find on the Internet a lengthy plot synopsis for the story (hundreds of them actually) so I won’t spend much time summarizing the book. In a nutshell, it’s about a teen girl who’s living with cancer (or dying from it, however you choose to look at it) and the boy she falls in love with. Who’s also living with (or dying from) cancer. Hazel, the girl, has a book she loves more than anything in the world and she convinces the boy, Augustus, to read it. He instantly loves it too. The writer of the book is a character named Peter Van Houten. Hazel and Gus travel to Amsterdam to meet Van Houten and....you’ll have to read it to learn the rest.

My first takeaway from the book - the author character Peter Van Houten was a thrilling, mesmerizing character for me. He was a totally mean, bastard of an old man – but intriguing nonetheless. Incidentally, Willem Defoe plays him in the film and I’m sure he’s going to be amazing. Anyways, I was fascinated with how John Green handled the writer character in this book by making him a complete curmudgeon. Van Houten basically just spends all his scenes spouting off preposterous yet profound statements about life and writing and books. It’s tough to really explain this without giving away a lot about the story. But when the teens visit Van Houten in Amsterdam, he gives openly honest answers to their questions about the book he’s written which they both love so much. And though he’s very harsh with his delivery and nearly crushes Hazel’s dreams, it’s pretty much all truthful things that Van Houten says. So it’s this completely weird situation where I’m thinking “Yeah, looking at this as an author myself and as an avid reader who has lots of favorite books and favorite writers, I’ve never really thought about things in the way Van Houten is saying them and it’s so mean but so true too.” Van Houten's parts of the book were very thought-provoking for me and I really liked him, though he’s a jerk, which was quite a strange feeling for me.

Here’s another quote from Van Houten (in which he's speaking to teenager Gus):

“You know how we make a Scotch and water in this home?”
“No, sir,” Gus said.
“We pour Scotch into a glass and then call to mind thoughts of water, and then we mix the actual Scotch with the abstracted idea of water.”

I loved that line!

The other aspect of this book that impacted me was it made me think about all the kids, teens and families who deal with cancer on a daily basis. Hazel and Gus, the two teen-aged main characters in the book, both with cancer, were so brave and thoughtful and bright and strong and clever – I thoroughly enjoyed both of them. But what about the REAL people who go through the same types of experiences as these book characters? I am very, very lucky that thus far, cancer has not been a major factor in my life. My close and extended family have each had some brushes with it but I've certainly never felt the pain and helpless anguish that comes with knowing a child or teen with cancer. A book like this one forces us to face the truth that cancer is everywhere and right now, it’s unstoppable. The book entertains, yet subtly reminds us to be grateful, prayerful and loving, no matter what our situations are.

“The Fault in Our Stars” is full of outstanding writing and features lovable, memorable characters. It makes you reflect about life, family, friendship and love - without being overly emotional or unnecessarily heart-breaking. Though there are some gut-wrenching moments in there for sure. Overall, I highly recommend this one.

**BE WARNED - There is a bit of sex in there (between the two teens) and some other touchy subject matter so I’d definitely suggest parents read it first before handing it off to any mature youngsters.**

However, it’s so remarkable, you’ll certainly be glad you got to enjoy it too.

Happy reading!

hit this link to find the book on Amazon