49 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars
Good, but not great, 22 Feb 2013
Given the hype surrounding this book, and my liking of John Green, I have to say I was a little disappointed with this book. The concept itself of two star-crossed lovers is hardly novel, and I didn't find much in this book that hadn't already been done many times before. In this way, the plot was rather boring. I cried when Dobby died in Harry Potter, I wept like a baby when Amy and Rory left in Doctor Who, but The Fault in our Stars left me feeling rather cold. I felt that Augustus and Hazel had little depth to them, and due to this I failed to connect with them as characters. They seemed, more than anything, to be canvases for Green's philosophical views to be published on, and the problem with this is that if you have disagreements with Green's views, the book feels almost preachy. To me, the passages of this book that most found profound to me either seemed obvious or fundamentally wrong. I don't mean this in an arrogant way, nor do I wish to claim that my views are in any way superior to Green's. All I'm saying is that if you've though about this stuff in the past, 'profound' passages risk no longer being profound. If your views are different to John's, passages can feel preachy (this is too harsh, but I lack a better word), or even annoying. If you've reached similar conclusions, passages can seem obvious. Another problem with canvassing Hazel and Augustus is that it makes the characters less real. Being Augustus's age, I don't deny that teenagers can think philosophically. However, the sheer volume of philosophy and wit that almost bombarded me as a reader felt artificial and prevented me from connecting with the characters. Hazel's obsession with finding out the fate of 'an imperial affliction' 's characters also annoyed me. If we're led to believe that she is this intelligent, and such a deep thinker, I just don't buy that she'd care much about the characters when, from what we hear about the book, they are almost an irrelevance in its larger meaning.
John's writing is undoubtedly strong. Despite my previous comments, many passages in the book were effective. I was particularly stuck by Hazel's frank way of dealing with death. However, when John he tried to become too philosophical for his own good, this strong writing sometimes lost its way. John's frequent referral to the different sizes of infinity in particularly felt tacked on and unnatural to me. The dialogue similarly also sometimes felt a little lacking. I was especially not a fan of the play-like method of presenting dialogue (the whole Hazel: - Mom: - Augustus: - thing).
I did like this book, despite the overtly negative review. It's just much easier to write negatives than positives, and I don't have the way with words that John does. Thanks for anyone who read this - I'd be interested in your opinions, as I'm sure most of you reading this will disagree with me.