Review of John Green’s “The Fault In Our Stars”

by samantakbhadra

Cancer is probably an example of the nadir of our helplessness in the world of diseases. John Green has, through this beautifully evocative first person narrative, given us a window into the minds and lives of teenagers afflicted with this disease and the related repercussions on friends and family. Written through the eyes of Hazel Grace, a 16 year old girl afflicted with late-stage cancer, The Fault In Our Stars is a poignant tale about an unlikely and fleeting love story mired in an underlying curtain of impending tragedy.

Hazel, a cancer patient at a tender age, meets Augustus Waters, a boy afflicted with osteosarcoma cancer, at a Support Group meeting which is aimed at helping young men and women in their battle against the disease. Before long, they get attracted to each other and eventually fall in love with each other.  The story moves through the varying contours of teenage affection coupled with the dreaded under-current of mortality. With the help of Augustus Waters, she is able to meet the author of her favourite book, An Imperial Affliction, in Netherlands. Although Peter Van Houton, the author, did not turn out to be a rather pleasant person, her bonding with Augustus became stronger during their visit to Netherlands.  Soon after, reality came hurtling down into their lives when Augustus’ condition started deteriorating slowly.  After Fate had finally caught up with him, the paintings of the characters burst out from the boundaries of the frame and reveal new shapes and forms. The reader is subjected to a beautiful and intimate exposure of Peter Van Houton, Augustus, Hazel and their parents.

The book transcends from being a mere teenage love story to a wonderfully pathetic and enlightening tale about the power of the human spirit. This power is capable of taking hold of realistic tragedy and transmogrifying it into a heady and magical tale of happiness, hope, pure love, disappointment and surprises. It provides a wonderful insight into the lives of young people afflicted with this dreaded disease. Life, for them, is like a ticking bomb, waiting to explode. The book is a silent ambassador of their crusade against this sadistic affliction. Pushing all negativity into the dark recesses of their minds, they fight a valiant battle every single day of the remainder of their lives. As a result, the story provides a rude awakening to all the fortunate healthy souls who take their life and this short existence for granted.

Although I did find the language of the narrative a bit too casual for my own liking (notwithstanding my inclination towards British English), the pace of the story is masterfully controlled as the story slows down at moments of retrospection and introspection while effortlessly galloping away during highly emotive moments. The undercurrent of cancer is steered effectively by the author as it meanders away into the distance on certain occasions only to show up at an unexpected bend. The parallel worlds of normalcy and disease flow along, sometimes crashing into each other and sometimes breaking away to carve new routes through the jungle of existence. Eventually, at the end of their journey, they collide and hurtle down into the depths of the canyon.

My rating of the book is 8/10.