The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

fault in our starsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Bibliographic information

Green, J. (2012). The Fault in Our Stars. New York: Dutton Books. (978-0-525-478812)

Plot summary

Sixteen-year-old Hazel Lancaster knows she is going to die. She has been waiting for the inevitable for the last three years.  So far, the miracle drug, Phalanxifor has held the cancer at bay and she has found that she has a lot of time on her hands; time she fills sleeping and watching reality television. Her activities, or lack thereof, convince her mother that she is depressed and insists she attend a weekly Support Group.

Hazel finds the Support Group depressing until a gorgeous boy, Augustus Waters, attends with his friend Isaac. Augustus’ friendly overtures, although initially rebuffed, soon win over Hazel. Hazel finds the witty and charming Augustus fascinating; which concerns her because she sees herself as a grenade that will inevitably explode and hurt anyone close to her. Until now, she has kept her distance from everyone except her family to minimize the casualties she is going to cause.

As their friendship develops, Hazel shares with Augustus her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction. Hazel’s dream is to meet the author, Peter Van Houten, and to find out what happened to the characters in the book. Augustus, who is also a cancer survivor, decides to use the Wish he received from the Genie Foundation to take her to Amsterdam to meet him. During the trip, Augustus and Hazel learn that not all stories have happy endings and that joy does exist even in a tragedy.

 Critical evaluation

In many ways Green’s book would make an excellent companion to Macbeth, from which the title is derived. Not only does Green consider the themes of fate and self-determination as Shakespeare does but he, like Shakespeare, uses humour liberally throughout his text. Green uses humour primarily to provide depth to his characters but it also adds an added level of tragedy to his tale. Also, like Shakespeare, Green uses character foils to further emphasize particular choices and attitudes of his characters.

Reader’s annotation

Hazel Grace Lancaster has been waiting to die for the past three years. In fact, she was about to die three years ago when a miracle drug, Phalanxifor, provided her a stay of execution. Now, she just has to figure out how to live while she waits for the inevitable. When she meets Augustus Waters at a cancer support group she begins to realize that it may not take courage to die but it will take courage to live.

Information about the author

An award winning author, John Green has written Looking for Alaska (2006 Michael L. Printz Award, An Abundance of Katherines (2007 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book), Paper Towns (2009 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery) and The Fault in Our Stars (2013 Odyssey Award Audiobook)

Green stays connected with his readers through his video blog, Brotherhood 2.0, that he operates with his brother.

Genre: Reality, Tragedy

Curriculum ties: English curriculum – good companion book to Macbeth and Hamlet – concepts of fate and self-determination

Booktalking ideas:

  • Internal struggle for identity
  • Tragedy/humour
  • Book trailer

Reading level/interest: 

  • 13 and up
  • Grade reading level 5.5

Challenge Issues

  • Premarital sex

Why did you include this title in the books you selected?:

John Green is a popular young adult author who creates realistic stories without the sensationalism found in many problem novels. He develops quirky characters that are relatable with teens and his liberal use of humour is often used to emphasize serious issues. Although realistic, his novels are hopeful, which can balance some of the more grim young adult literature found in collections.

Received starred reviews from Horn Book, Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus, Bulletin

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2 responses

  1. […] Michael L. Printz Award), Paper Towns (2009 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery) and The Fault in Our Stars (2013 Odyssey Award […]

  2. […] Michael L. Printz Award), Paper Towns (2009 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery) and The Fault in Our Stars (2013 Odyssey Award […]

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