Reviews for Fault in Our Stars
Booklist Reviews 2012 January #1
*Starred Review* At 16, Hazel Grace Lancaster, a three-year stage IV-cancer survivor, is clinically depressed. To help her deal with this, her doctor sends her to a weekly support group where she meets Augustus Waters, a fellow cancer survivor, and the two fall in love. Both kids are preternaturally intelligent, and Hazel is fascinated with a novel about cancer called An Imperial Affliction. Most particularly, she longs to know what happened to its characters after an ambiguous ending. To find out, the enterprising Augustus makes it possible for them to travel to Amsterdam, where Imperial's author, an expatriate American, lives. What happens when they meet him must be left to readers to discover. Suffice it to say, it is significant. Writing about kids with cancer is an invitation to sentimentality and pathos--or worse, in unskilled hands, bathos. Happily, Green is able to transcend such pitfalls in his best and most ambitious novel to date. Beautifully conceived and executed, this story artfully examines the largest possible considerations--life, love, and death--with sensitivity, intelligence, honesty, and integrity. In the process, Green shows his readers what it is like to live with cancer, sometimes no more than a breath or a heartbeat away from death. But it is life that Green spiritedly celebrates here, even while acknowledging its pain. In its every aspect, this novel is a triumph. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Green's promotional genius is a force of nature. After announcing he would sign all 150,000 copies of this title's first print run, it shot to the top of Amazon and Barnes & Noble's best-seller lists six months before publication. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
BookPage Reviews 2012 January
A signature move pays off for John Green
It would be completely understandable to discover, upon meeting John Green, that he’s tired and hoarse and must sleep with his hands elevated on the softest of pillows every night.
After all, the award-winning, best-selling author lets nary a day go by without updating his Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Facebook and blog. And all the while, he’s writing books, too—including his latest novel for teens, The Fault in Our Stars, which goes on sale January 10.
“It was sort of fun in a weird way,” Green says of signing more than 150,000 books.
Still, Green was energetic and smooth-voiced (and, because “it’s all about keyboard positioning,” carpal tunnel syndrome-free!) when he spoke with BookPage from his home in Indianapolis, where he lives with his wife and son. This despite having recently added a significant undertaking to his daily routine: He signed his name for 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for about a month.
Why 400 hours of writing “John Green,” Sharpie marker in hand? “I came up with the idea to sign all the pre-orders of The Fault in Our Stars,” he says. “I kept thinking about all the kids who live in North Dakota or Guam, places I’m never going to go on tour. It seemed unfair that people who live in major metropolitan areas could get a signed book, but people who don’t, can’t.”
He adds, “It became clear that the only way to do it was to sign the entire first printing, because of the nature of book warehousing—150,000 [autographs], plus an extra 2,000 in case of spoilage.”
After Green announced plans for the signing last summer, pre-orders shot the novel to #1 on bookseller websites. Of course, Green posted progress videos of the signing on his website and—despite getting a bit wild-eyed, mussy-haired and tense-armed—he says, “It was sort of fun in a weird way. I got to watch lots of Ken Burns, ‘MythBusters,’ a show I didn’t even like called ‘Pawn Stars’ and listen to lots of audiobooks. In the end, it was a privilege, honestly. It felt very much like a gift given back to me by my readers.”
Green’s willingness to undertake the task is but one indication of his connection with his fans, who call themselves Nerdfighters. Other authors may have a social media platform; Green has a loving, vocal community that works toward common goals and has its own lexicon.
While Green’s fan base has been growing since his first book (2005’s Looking for Alaska), the Nerdfighteria community was born during a project he started with his brother, Hank. During 2007, the two communicated only via YouTube videos. Their VlogBrothers YouTube channel now has 607,000 subscribers, and they’ve launched VidCon, an annual conference for creators and fans of online video.
“I’m ultimately much more passionate about writing and books, but I really love YouTube and the community that’s built up around our videos,” Green says. One example: “We’re one of the largest groups that donate to Kiva, a microfinance website that makes loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries. We’ve loaned more than $100,000 in the last six months. Books are great, but you can’t have a visceral connection to changing the world, and doing stuff that makes you feel better about being a person. It’s a different kind of work.”
The Fault in Our Stars has already developed a following; at presstime, two chapters had been released online, plus video readings by the author. No spoilers here, but we can say this: Green’s trademark grace, wit and creativity have resulted in a story that will stir the Nerdfighters to even greater adoration.
Sixteen-year-old Hazel Lancaster is the narrator, and the heart, of The Fault in Our Stars. Diagnosed with incurable thyroid cancer at age 13, Hazel left school, but got her GED and now attends community college. She gets around all right, oxygen tank in tow—and dreads going to a weekly support group attended by a “rotating cast of characters in various states of tumor-driven unwellness. Why did the cast rotate? A side effect of dying.”
Hazel’s matter-of-fact-ness doesn’t go untempered by fear or sadness, but she and her cohorts are nothing like the saintly, heroic, very quiet sick people who populate so many books and movies.
The creation of un-saintly characters was essential, Green says, to the genesis of The Fault in Our Stars. “After I graduated from college, I spent five months working in a children’s hospital. Immediately after I left, I started writing a story. . . . I was trying to write about sick kids that were like the sick kids I’d known in the hospital, not these fountains of wisdom, and not a sentimental story about poor little kids. Everything I wrote was crap. I couldn’t . . . imagine them as people outside of their illness.”
All that changed when he encountered another young cancer patient. “I met Esther Earl in 2008. I never thought about her as inspiration for the story—it’s the one I’ve been waiting to write pretty much my whole career—but I wouldn’t have been able to write it if I hadn’t known her. She was so funny and thoughtful and normal. I was able to find another way into thinking about illness and lives that are shorter than they ought to be.” Esther’s was: She died of thyroid cancer in 2010, at age 16. Green dedicated the novel to her.
“To be frank, I think it’s extremely difficult not to be nihilistic when faced with the reality that children die,” Green says. “That’s the real reason I couldn’t write The Fault in Our Stars until I knew Esther: I couldn’t reconcile myself to looking at it honestly, and being hopeful. [And] reading should be fun; I wanted to write something that was funny and evocative of life and embraced life. That was important to me.”
Throughout his career, Green has been a vocal proponent of the importance of books and reading. Speaking of change in the industry, he says, “I really believe in publishers and publishing, [and that] publishers serve a tremendously important role in literature in the U.S. Even if that’s not a statement in favor of print, hopefully it’s a statement about quality. I don’t care if people use e-readers, I just want them to read books.”
Green’s doing his part to keep people turning those pages, and they’re clearly responding. In fact, the Nerdfighters’ enthusiastic pre-ordering resulted in an earlier release date for The Fault in Our Stars (it was moved from May 2012 to January). Now that shows the power of the people—especially those who really, really want John Green’s autograph. Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
Green's fourth solo novel is a lot of things: acerbic comedy, sexy romance, and a lightly played, extended meditation on life and death. Narrator Hazel, controlling stage four cancer, is the most multi-dimensional yet of John Green Girls. She may not be able to change the course of her stars, but she navigates their heartbreaking directives with humor, honesty, and--she'd deny it--grace.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #2
I suppose this is a cancer book, but as its inimitable heroine Hazel would say, "It's not a cancer book, because cancer books suck." Evoking yet transcending such teen-illness classics as Paige Dixon's May I Cross Your Golden River? (rev. 2/76) and Alice Bach's Waiting for Johnny Miracle, John Green's fourth solo novel, and first to be narrated by a girl, is a lot of things: acerbic comedy, sexy romance, and a lightly played, extended meditation on the big questions about life and death. Hazel is controlling her stage four cancer "with the assistance of drizzled oxygen and daily Phalanxifor" -- she has time, but no one knows how much. Augustus Waters, handsome and dashing, lost a leg to osteosarcoma but now seems okay. Their quickly developing (terminal illness giving new meaning to the question, "why wait?") romance is as intellectual as it is physical and emotional, and Green's fans will recognize and enjoy the heady badinage between the two. They will also appreciate the presence of sidekick Isaac, soon to be blind from eye cancer but a generous sharer of friendship as well as of the blackest of jokes. Hazel, the most multi-dimensional yet of John Green Girls, may not be able to change the course of her stars, but she navigates their heartbreaking directives with humor, honesty, and -- while she would probably deny it -- grace. roger sutton Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 January #2
He's in remission from the osteosarcoma that took one of his legs. She's fighting the brown fluid in her lungs caused by tumors. Both know that their time is limited. Sparks fly when Hazel Grace Lancaster spies Augustus "Gus" Waters checking her out across the room in a group-therapy session for teens living with cancer. He's a gorgeous, confident, intelligent amputee who always loses video games because he tries to save everyone. She's smart, snarky and 16; she goes to community college and jokingly calls Peter Van Houten, the author of her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, her only friend besides her parents. He asks her over, and they swap novels. He agrees to read the Van Houten and she agrees to read his--based on his favorite bloodbath-filled video game. The two become connected at the hip, and what follows is a smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance. From their trip to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive Van Houten to their hilariously flirty repartee, readers will swoon on nearly every page. Green's signature style shines: His carefully structured dialogue and razor-sharp characters brim with genuine intellect, humor and desire. He takes on Big Questions that might feel heavy handed in the words of any other author: What do oblivion and living mean? Then he deftly parries them with humor: "My nostalgia is so extreme that I am capable of missing a swing my butt never actually touched." Dog-earing of pages will no doubt ensue. Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues to make it through Hazel and Gus' poignant journey. (Fiction. 15 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews Newsletter
The release of any book by Green is eagerly anticipated by teen and adult readers alike. Drawing even more attention to his latest offering, the popular author determined to autograph all 150,000 copies of the book's first print run, making it an Amazon best seller over a month before its publication date. Lofty expectations, and Green delivers; this story of two teens fighting end-stage cancer may be his best book to date. Hazel is alive (but depressed) thanks to a miracle drug that has bought her more time with her "lungs that suck at being lungs." At support group she meets Augustus Waters, who has lost a leg to osteosarcoma. He is struck by her sharp wit and resemblance to Natalie Portman and invites her home to watch V for Vendetta, beginning a relationship that will take them from the ICU to Amsterdam, exploring the joys and despairs of first love when there may not be a second chance. The author's experience as a chaplain in a children's hospital informs the story, so that it avoids the becoming maudlin, even as Hazel's and Gus's every dignity is stripped away by their respective cancers. An unforgettable story with more than just two unforgettable characters. - "35 Going on 13" LJ Reviews 2/16/2012 (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2012 August/September
This novel focuses on how two intelligent, mature teens grapple with very adult issues. Hazel and Gus meet at a support group for cancer victims and bond over Hazel's favorite book, in which the main character also has cancer. The book ends in the middle of a sentence, and Hazel and Gus become consumed with locating the author to find out what happened to the characters. Their search leads them to Amsterdam, where they discover a drunk, miserable man who refuses to answer their questions. Though they never find the resolution, Gus and Hazel learn much about themselves. The story contains some sexual content and coarse language, understandable given the context in which it appears. Intelligent vocabulary, generous references to literature, and witty cultural commentary make this a delight to read and a refreshing, sophisticated addition to the field of YA literature. Melanie Lewis, Coordinator of Learning Resources, Liberty High School, Madera, California. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
School Library Journal Reviews 2012 February
Gr 9 Up--"It's not fair," complains 16-year-old Hazel from Indiana. "The world," says Gus, her new friend from her teen support group, "is not a wish-granting factory." Indeed, life is not fair; Hazel and Gus both have cancer, Hazel's terminal. Despite this, she has a burning obsession: to find out what happens to the characters after the end of her favorite novel. An Imperial Affliction by Dutch author Peter Van Houten is about a girl named Anna who has cancer, and it ends in mid-sentence (presumably to indicate a life cut short), a stylistic choice that Hazel appreciates but the ambiguity drives her crazy. Did the "Dutch Tulip Man" marry Anna's mom? What happened to Sisyphus the Hamster? Hazel asks her questions via email and Van Houten responds, claiming that he can only tell her the answers in person. When she was younger, Hazel used her wish-one granted to sick children from The Genie Foundation--by going to Disney World. Gus decides to use his to take Hazel to Amsterdam to meet the author. Like most things in life, the trip doesn't go exactly as anticipated. Van Houten is a disappointment, but Hazel, who has resisted loving Gus because she doesn't want to be the grenade that explodes in his life when she dies, finally allows herself to love. Once again Green offers a well-developed cast of characters capable of both reflective thought and hilarious dialogue. With his trademark humor, lovable parents, and exploration of big-time challenges, The Fault in Our Stars is an achingly beautiful story about life and loss.--Ragan O'Malley, Saint Ann's School, Brooklyn, NY [Page 120]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
VOYA Reviews 2012 April
Hazel Grace is a sixteen-year-old cancer patient, caught up in the effort it takes to live in a body that everyone knows is running out of time. When she reluctantly agrees to return to her local teen cancer support group to satisfy her mother, the last thing she expects is an encounter with destiny. New to the group, Augustus Waters is handsome, bitingly sarcastic, and in remission. He is also immediately taken with Hazel, and what begins as a casual friendship soon escalates into a full romance. Through an impressive exchange of books and words, philosophies and metaphors, Hazel and Augustus tear apart what it means to be both star-crossed lovers and imminently mortal Green's much-anticipated novel is breathtaking in its ability to alternate between iridescent humor and raw tragedy. Hazel and Augustus are both fully realized, complex characters that each defy what it means to be a cancer patient in a unique way. While Hazel fixates about how her death will eventually hurt her loved ones, Augustus obsesses about how he will be remembered; the two are drawn together by the justified anxiety they feel over endings. If The Fault in Our Stars has a fault, it is not that Green's writing is too complex for teens, as some suggest, but that at times the complexity of Green's voice overshadows the narrative. Purchase for small and large libraries alike, though several copies may be wise considering both Green's popularity, and the potential of this book to become a classic.--Allison Hunter Hill 5Q 5P S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.