The Fault in Our Stars: Book Review
We review this highly successful book about death, by John Green from Vlogbrothers.
If you frequent YouTube, chances are you will have heard of John Green, one half of popular vlogging duo the Vlogbrothers. Their channel has over 800,000 subscribers, and they are considered some of the most influential figures on the site. But perhaps you didn’t know that Green is actually better known for his writing. He is a young adult novelist, and last year, released The Fault in Our Stars, a moving and very well-written book about cancer which was recently named TIME Magazine’s number 1 fiction book of 2012. You’d have to assume that it’s a rare thing for this particular accolade to go to a novel for young adults, but that just goes to show exactly how universally thought-provoking Green’s subject is. And this subject is death.
What's the book about?
Hazel is sixteen, and has terminal thyroid cancer. Green assumes her voice for the novel, which you might think is weird given that he is a 30-something-year-old man, but he very successfully creates a believable and likeable character. The basic plot of the novel is that Hazel meets another cancer sufferer, Augustus Waters, and they begin a relationship despite their respective diseases. But along the way, Green also introduces philosophical ideas about life, afterlife, and illness, which makes this novel far more sophisticated than the ‘vampire books’ it might sit beside in the young adult section of a bookshop.
Green raises some really interesting ideas, particularly about Hazel’s desire to distance herself from others, so that when she dies she won’t hurt too many people. As Christians, we are called love others like Christ loved us, and yet there are some people who choose, for reasons of their own, to attempt to disconnect themselves from others. If Hazel had a Christian friend, would she have felt quite so alone before she met Augustus?
How evangelical are you?
Another key aspect of the book is Hazel’s obsession with a novel called An Imperial Affliction. There’s a great quote in the book that I love:
Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.
Hazel’s talking about An Imperial Affliction, but this also sounds strangely like something a Christian might say about the Bible! He even uses the word ‘evangelical’!
Does your passion for the Bible sound like this? Do you want to share God’s word with everyone you meet? Are you convinced that God’s word could mend the shattered world? Because it could!
Paul, writing to Timothy, said
‘But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’ (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
That’s one powerful book, if it can make us ‘wise for salvation’!
I really love The Fault in our Stars, and I would highly recommend it to older teenagers, looking to read a brilliant secular young adult novel. But as much as I love this book, it cannot compare to the Bible, God’s word, which isn’t just entertaining or challenging, but world-mending and life-changing.