The Fault, Dear Cassius, Was in Our Stars
John Green's latest novel brings realistic teenage outlook on life, death and love
Kim Hernandez, Contributing Writer
He’s in remission from osteosarcoma that has left him an amputee. She’s fighting to survive lung complications stemming from tumors. Both know their time on Earth is limited.
This sounds like a plot in a cheesy Lifetime movie about teens with cancer, but in John Green’s latest novel, The Fault in Our Stars, the plot leads a humorously frank and touching perspective to deal with a heavy subject. The lead characters, Augustus “Gus” Waters and Hazel Grace Lancaster, are young lovers with cancer, who grow closer over Hazel’s favorite book and a shared perspective on life.
A book about teenagers with cancer is one that borders on taboos like mortality and love. However, Green has a way of placing himself into the minds of young adults in his writings. He paces the novel well with witty lines of dialogue, portraying the character of Hazel as being as likable as a best friend to the reader.
Cancer is a heavy topic to talk about in any novel, but Green often uses Hazel to relieve the tone with wit and humor.
Hazel carries a sarcastic outlook on her condition, pointing out her lungs “suck at being lungs.” She embraces a uniquely negative outlook on cancer, whereas most young adult novels would be much more optimistic. Often times, the sense of hope in a situation with such gravity can make a scene over-dramatic. In The Fault in Our Stars, Green portrays a more authentic,
original reaction to cancer in these characters. The characters don’t treat cancer like another hurdle, but instead simply grow from their hardships.
One slight issue with the novel is that Green imbues Hazel and Augustus with eloquent vocabularies. The two use words like “sobriquet,” which makes them appear a little too fictionalized. Aside from the uncharacteristically sophisticated
language, Hazel and Augustus sometimes speak deeply about their place in the world. At one point, Augustus breaks through his strong bravado, and wonders about death and whether he’s made a significant impact on the world. Augustus is poignantly shown as a character who has spent many days thinking about his own imprint on the world.
The best thing about reading The Fault in Our Stars is how Mr. Green doesn’t over-romanticize Hazel and Augustus’ love. Augustus can be a gentleman. In one scene, he recreates a picnic date based off of Hazel’s favorite book, An Imperial Affliction. Green balances the courtship, however, with frustrations from former loves, and eventually presents the difficulty in building relationships with people who have terminal diseases.
The Fault in Our Stars is not an ordinary book about terminally ill teens. Cancer and death are not the main subjects in the book. The disease is used as a vehicle to move along the story and develop the relationship between Hazel and Augustus. The reader will laugh at the humor and love found in the novel. By the end of the novel, just have tissues handyand don’t be scared to shed a few tears. Guaranteed, after you read this book your thoughts shall be stars that you cannot fathom into constellations.