Rating: 4/5 stars.
“‘That’s the thing about pain,” Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. ‘It demands to be felt.'”
Okay, dang. That’s deep. I hang out with some of the smartest kids at my school, and we do engage in sophisticated debate from time to time, but none of us really produce such philosophical insight in everyday conversation. How unrealistic John Green’s characters tend to be has turned me off from most of his other books – the characters in this one suffered slightly from it too – but The Fault in Our Stars as a whole is John Green’s best book to date.
Like I said, at times Hazel (the protagonist) and Augustus (the love interest, but so much more) came off as wise beyond their years. They notice this, their parents notice this, and readers will notice this. However, there is something so human about the way Green portrays them that makes them relatable. They are not simply teens suffering from cancer, but teens who doubt their place in the world, who are filled with angst and longing and confusion and hope. I can’t say I’ve experienced the exact same emotions as Hazel and Augustus have, but I can say that it’s easy to empathize with them and feel their pain entirely.
We all know by now that John Green has a way with words. This book is remarkably quotable. Not only the thought-provoking quotes like “some infinities are bigger than other infinities”, but funny quotes like “what a slut time is. She screws everybody.” (I apologize for the profanity, but that one was too good to pass up. Now that I think of it, it is pretty profound too.) The characters have conversations I could imagine me and my friends having – when I showed a particular conversation to my friend, she literally said “oh my gosh, that’s totally something we would say!” Let’s just say it involved a one-legged pony.
There were other small things I enjoyed about the book too, such as the friendship between Issac and Augustus, the parallelism between the actual book and An Imperial Affliction, and how clever and cultured the characters were. My favorite aspect, though, was how much I felt. My favorite books make me feel and make me think, and this one did both.