03 September, 2014 / Ziqa'ad 7, 1435

The fault in our stars: A book review

Published Jul 13, 2013 03:30pm

When you know all along while reading a book, what is coming your way, the novel instantaneously loses its charm. Even though the blurb at the back of The Fault in our Stars by John Green didn’t seem to suggest anything very original, I decided to give the book a shot out of sheer curiosity – owing to the immense hype. Admittedly, I knew what I was bargaining for, but I still hoped the novel would surprise me. It didn’t. It was plain redundant. Fortunately, it wasn’t a long book. So my suffering was short-lived. And I say this at the risk of sounding insensitive about a book which deals with two cancer-ridden patients.

Here’s the overtly-romanticised story based in Indianapolis: Hazel Grace, a 16-years-old teenager, is increasingly disillusioned towards life. She is suffering from cancer and spends most of her time thinking about death. A drug called Phalanxifor affords her a few years. Hazel’s parents force her into attending a Support Group for cancer patients where she meets Augustus Waters, a 17-year-old lad in remission. Both are attracted to each other instantly, without any misgivings. While, understandably, romantic decisions in your teens aren’t supposed to be exactly judicious, one can’t help getting irked at the author for making it seem so opportune.

Both hit up with each other extremely well and have animated conversations. Following Augustus’ probing, Hazel even shares her favourite novel “The Imperial Affliction”. The latter becomes a subject of many of their subsequent conversations after Augustus decides to read it. Both are consumed with curiosity about the novel’s incomplete ending. Hazel’s only wish in the world is to know what happens to its characters.

Augustus takes it upon himself to fulfill Hazel’s wish and manages to correspond with the assistant of Amsterdam-based author Peter van Houten for a permitted meeting. He uses his only wish from the imaginary “Make a Wish Foundation” to arrange a trip to Amsterdam for Hazel and himself, so that they can rendezvous with the author and question him about the novel’s elusive ending.

Although the trip they undertake with Hazel’s mother is the defining point of the novel, the ‘feigned’ aspect does not miss you. It is on the trip that Hazel and Augustus fall in love. They even meet the solitary, alcoholic author of “The Imperial Affliction”, but the meeting doesn’t transpire as they had hoped. The duo is unable to procure any answers from the author, who turns out to be a jerk. Deeply upsetting and bewildering, this overwhelming tragedy is only redeemed when they are shown around Amsterdam by the author’s assistant. Afterwards, they consummate their relationship and Augustus confesses to Hazel that his cancer is back with increased ferocity. Even though he promises to fight it for her sake, it is evident that he won’t survive. While this revelation is moving, it also seems affected and unconvincing. The barely four-day trip is the epitome of everything that is there to the plot. Whatever happens before and after the trip are just unnecessary supplements. You can persevere with reading, after telling yourself that it is okay for everything to be so glaringly obvious. Having made my disclaimer, I will now commence further.

So the pair returns to Indianapolis and the end is as tragic as expected. Except for some excitement concerning Augustus’ eulogy to Hazel and how she manages to obtain it, there is nothing to write home about.

When the story finished, I, too, had a wish like Hazel. I wished ardently that Green had not made the novel so predictable.


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The reviewer is a Multimedia Content Producer at Dawn.com. She can be reached at fatema.z.imani@gmail.com

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Comments (6) (Closed)


Nerd FIghter
Jul 13, 2013 04:17pm

Lol, even though I am a nerd fighter I do agree that this isn't his best work. =) In any case, the amount of YouTube following that man does have, it's no surprise that this book has this much hype. I do hope he writes sci-fi someday =P

yaya
Jul 13, 2013 08:56pm

A small point: the make a wish foundation is real.....its a pretty well-known American charity that grants terminally-ill children their wishes

Khalid
Jul 14, 2013 03:33am

I think this is a children's book - perhaps the expectations of the reviewer have been set too high.

sridhar sikha
Jul 14, 2013 09:36am

@Khalid: i agree -this is more of a teen following

metha
Jul 14, 2013 12:12pm

Jeez, way to kill a book by giving away the ending. Were you trying to make it as bland for others as it was for yourself? This isn't the first time I've noticed this on your reviews. Learn how to write book reviews first.

Raiya
Jul 15, 2013 09:03am

Agree with yaya...make a wish foundation is real