Monday, June 1, 2015

2014: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Author:

John Green (1977-    ) was born in Indianapolis, Indiana but grew up in Orlando, Florida and Birmingham, Alabama.  He double-majored in English and Religious Studies at Kenyon College, graduating in 2000.  After graduating, he worked as a chaplain at a children's hospital, then began working for Booklist and was a frequent contributor to NPR's All Things Considered.  In 2005, Green published his first novel, Looking for Alaska.  In 2006 he married Sarah Urist and published his second novel, An Abundance of Katherines.  In 2007, John and his brother Hank Green started vlogging under the name Vlogbrothers.  They now have over two million subscribers on youtube.  He wrote Paper Towns (2008) and co-wrote Will Grayson, Will Grayson (2009) with David Levithan.  His most recent novel, The Fault in Our Stars, was published in 2012 and was adapted to film in 2014.  John Green lives in Indianapolis with his wife and two children.

The Book:

Length: 313 pages
Subject/Genre: Teen issues/YA Romance

The Fault in Our Stars is narrated by Hazel, a 16 year old girl with thyroid cancer that spread to her lungs.  At a youth cancer support group, she meets Augustus Waters, a 17 year old boy who lost a leg to osteosarcoma, but will probably remain healthy.  Hazel has a terminal diagnosis, though an experimental medication has bought her some (but no one knows how much) time. Their budding (and inherently doomed) relationship is the focus of the novel.

Green uses the protagonists' cancer to amplify the typical teenage experience: angst over the future, the feeling that no one really understands you, obsession with mortality, etc.  He avoids being overly cloying or preachy, which he could have easily resorted to.

I rarely read YA.  This isn't meant as a condemnation of the genre, just a general lack of interest.  So while this novel wasn't my cup of tea, I'm happy to say it wasn't an unpleasant experience.  Before now, my limited experience with YA has mostly been of the shitty variety, where the author, either due to lack of talent or disregard for his/her audience, publishes what looks like a rough first draft.  I'm happy to say that Green doesn't do this.  While I don't find the novel particularly profound, I'm happy to say that its well-written, not only moreso than other YA I've read, but moreso than some of the adult fiction previously reviewed here (cough Valley of the Dolls cough The Da Vinci Code cough).

Despite being published in 2012, The Fault in Our Stars didn't become the #1 annual bestseller until 2014, which is when the movie adaptation was released.

The movie was a financial success, with a $48 million opening weekend.  Oddly enough, Fox's Bollywood studios have announced their plans to produce a Hindi remake.

I just realized that this is my last recommendation after over two years of doing this (and the post goes live on my birthday, no less).  Anyway, if you like YA and/or Romance, you'll most likely enjoy The Fault in Our Stars. If you're not into either of those genres, it's still an okay read, though you'll likely remain ambivalent.

Bestsellers of 2014:

1. The Fault in Our Stars (trade paperback) by John Green
2. The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney
3. Divergent by Veronica Roth
4. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
5. Killing Patton by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard (non-fiction)
6. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
8. The Fault in Our Stars (movie tie-in) by John Green
9. The Fault in Our Stars (hardcover) by John Green
10. Frozen by Victoria Saxon

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
3. Divergent by Veronica Roth
4. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
5. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
6. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
7. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
8. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
9. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
10. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (non-fiction)

Also Published in 2014:

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore
What If? by Randall Munroe
The Martian by Andy Weir


"Biographical Questions." JohnGreenBooks. John Green Books, n.d. Web.

Green, John. The Fault in Our Stars. New York: Dutton Books, 2012. Print.

"John Green." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2014. Literature Resource Center. Web.


  1. I came to John Green through his YouTube channel and other online ventures. At one time in 2013 or so I went to by a paperback edition of TFIOS only to realize it was still only in hardback. I ended up listening to the unabridged audiobook while on vacation in Utah (lots of driving time).

    The book is very well written and clever in its subversions of tropes. I actually like many novels which get ghettoized as YA because they often tend to be short and easier to read than doorstops like "The Goldfinch".

  2. Congratulations on an amazing blog and Happy Birthday!

  3. Congratulations on finishing! I wasn't sure you'd make it, especially when traversing that vast and trackless Wastes of Grisham. I've definitely found it fascinating to follow along.

  4. Congratulations and thanks on persevering to the end!

    I'm hoping you will favor us with some kind of recap. "books over the years"..."what I've learned"..."how I've changed as a reader"...whatever strikes your fancy.

  5. I absolutely loved this book! I cried my eyes out the first time I read it in 2012. When I took my boyfriend to see the movie last year, he cried too! It isn't terribly sad, though. There is a lot of hope given at the end. If you like romance, this should do the trick for you as Hazel and Augustus's love runs very deep.

  6. Bah, deleted the comment, oh well try again. Congratulations on getting through them all.

    It does seem that the quality of the best seller has been declining as we get more contemporary, or is it just my ageism? What do you think?

    1. You're not wrong, but this is more a result of the business than the books. In the 60s and 70s you had the start of the consolidation of both publishers and retail outlets, and in the 90s the rise of the chain superstores. But by that point we were already looking at retail chains as the most prevalent sales model for books. So when most book retail was controlled by a handful of chains, and most publishing by a handful of publishers, both would push the sure moneymakers.