Monday, January 12, 2015

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Dutton Books, 2012. 316p. (9780525478812)
I finally got around to reading this last week. What a bleak outlook on life and eternity!

Goodreads Summary:
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent [yep!], and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

My Review:
The story is engaging and terminal cancer patients do tug at ones heart strings; I never even came close to crying though. The writing and vocabulary is at a middle/high school level (for the most part) but the author throws in obscure words (hamartia for one, but its explained) and doesn’t ever talk down to his audience. I think that’s perhaps why so many YAs love this book. The author deals with big issues with candor and grittiness but he also lighten things up with laugh out loud wittiness.

But boy do those kids need their mouths washed with soap. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with so much bad language. Which is a sad reflection on American society because I highly suspect that’s how a lot of teens talk. Though I highly doubt that even a small fraction could use the college and graduate level vocabulary Augustus and Hazel use and launch into very prosaic and philosophical monologues they way they do, especially if they aren’t widely and well read individuals, just as these two aren’t.

**Spoiler alert – not really, you probably heard by now** Augustus and Hazel have sex. Just a short time after their first kiss. Which is another sad reflection on American society. Why is it assumed that having sex is the only way to prove/show how in love or committed a couple is? That’s baloney!

Especially if the couple is in high school. Especially because he's really just using her. God has good reasons for forbidding sex outside of marriage.

Brains are amazing organs and one of the neurochemicals it releases during sex is dopamine which makes you feel good, it creates an addiction to that feeling. To use Dannah Gresh’s words from her book What are You Waiting for? The One Thing No One Ever Tells You about Sex:
Dopamine emotionally “attaches” you to the source of pleasure – even if that source is “just a friend.” … The limbic system was created to store sexual memory and emotion for us. A little walnut-sized mass called the thalamus…is the seat of our romantic “heart.” The purpose of the limbic system and dopamine is to turn the visceral drives of passion into a deep, lasting attachment – into knowing and being known. But when this gets misused, our system becomes confused and we feel great pain. (p.42)
Out of the 33,000+ reviews on Amazon only 104 mention that the teens (who are underage by the way) have sex (and use the word sex in their review). And well over half of those were 4 or 5 star reviews. Also Hazel’s friend Kaitlyn says some very crude things when she finds out Augustus and Hazel are (semi) dating.

I had obtained this free for the library using book club reward money, but I don’t think I’ll be cataloging it and adding it to the library. The collection development policy states, “All material, particularly fiction, should promote faithfulness to Philippians 4:8. 'Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.'” And this book doesn’t align with that at all.

Read this if you’ve got YAs in your life that love it (or will read it) and if you keep up with pop culture, otherwise don’t bother.

1 star means don't waste your time

If you must read it: Find it at a library near you; Buy it from Amazon ($2.99/$6.60/$10.70); Buy it from Barnes& Noble ($2.99/ $8.32/$10.75)
(Ebook / paper back / hardcover prices good as of January 7, 2015 always double check for yourself)

Disclosure: I got this from the library. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission.

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  1. I appreciate this review. I read this book a few months ago. I didn't like it, particularly compared to how popular it was, but I had trouble articulating all the reasons why. I do think parents of teens or tweens need to read it. Their kids probably will (or see the movie) and you need to be prepared for the discussions you need to have about it.

    1. Thanks so much Karen! And I agree about parents being in the know.

  2. Wow, someone agrees with me:) I really wanted to read this book because everyone was so hype about it, but then I was doing some research and realized how bad the content is and I was like, "Never mind!" My parents wouldn't have let me read it even if I had wanted to tho:)


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