The Fault in Our Stars is the story of Hazel, a teenage girl who has terminal cancer. Hazel meets cancer survivor Augustus at support group and romance blossoms!
Overall the group was very positive about this book. We were a little apprehensive to read a book about cancer as we were worried it would be depressing but we felt that the author’s writing style and way of dealing with the topic really worked well. It wasn’t overly sentimental or romanticised, it dealt with cancer in a very matter of fact way. A lot of the group found that they got into the book as it went along and ended up liking it despite themselves.
The characters felt very real, both the teenagers and the adults. It was commented that in ‘young adult’ books the parents are often not developed as characters but they were in this book, some of the exchanges between Hazel and her parents were very moving. Some felt that the dialogue was a bit affected, with the teenagers trying too hard to use big words and coming across quite pretentious. But we then realised that that is the way teenagers do speak, they are not very self-aware and are trying to sound cool in everything they say! Some felt that the children were too mature for their age. Most of the characters though, had real depth. For example, it was interesting we (as readers) could tell that the author in Amsterdam had had someone close to them die of cancer, we actually knew before the other characters realised.
Everyone felt that the plot was believable. Meeting a cancer support group is likely to happen, with children being much more pragmatic than adults at dealing with illness. Some felt that the story of the author in Amsterdam wasn’t very believable and didn’t really fit into the story, but others really liked it and gave the teenagers a purpose, something to live for. One part that a lot of us found unbelievable was when the author turned up at the funeral and in the back of Hazel’s car. It might have been more realistic if the author had just corresponded through email or post, not very likely he would have come to America considering he was a very self-centred person and an alcoholic!
One passage that someone found particularly interesting was when Hazel got the call to tell her Gus has died. One member of book club had been through a similar experience so really related to it and felt that the author portrayed it accurately. A lot of us liked the concept of Hazel thinking of herself as a “grenade”, ready to explode at any moment and ruin the lives of those around her. Another passage that was mentioned was when they held Gus’s pre-funeral so he could hear what they would say about him – a bit gratuitous but played to many people’s secret desire to hear what people would say about them at their funeral. Another person mentioned the part where Hazel looked at Gus’s Facebook page and saw loads of comments from people that didn’t know him.
Considering mostly we are very critical of the endings of books, the comments about this one weren’t bad at all! We felt it was emotional and were all glad it didn’t just end mid-sentence, mirroring the end of Hazel’s favourite book! A lot of us liked the authors writing style, we found it bold, honest and just the right amount of descriptiveness. Many people would read another book by the author (one already has!).
Write up by Sarah.