The World According to Renee

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Review: A Fault in Our Stars (novel)

Inspired to read this novel because I was intrigued by the trailer currently showing on television, I remembered how much I liked John Green’s characterisation. I have previously read and enjoyed Looking for Alaska but not quite enough to rush out and buy the rest of his novels. Plus, I’m not exactly in the target audience.

The Fault in our Stars tells a doomed love between terminally ill teenagers Hazel and Augustus. John Green writes his teenagers as sentient beings, unlike most depictions where teens are mopey, horny sub-humans thinking the world owes them something. Hazel is by far the most interesting character in this novel, whereas Augustus is proudly pretentious, using a lot of big words in exchange for acceptance.

The reader will already know the outcome after the first few pages, but what keeps this novel moving is the acceptance of the world rather than trying to change it, indulge in it, or mope around feeling sorry for oneself like so many terminally ill characters. They are people with cancer, not cancer patients hell bent on making peace with everyone in their lives while hoping to live happily ever after.

The first half of the novel is the better half. Once Hazel and Gus travel to Amsterdam, the characters seem to revel in their medocrity instead of being the natural people they were earlier. In some ways, their meeting Hazel’s favourite author (and third best friend) is a self-referential analysis of the very novel Green is writing. I liked this, however in the latter half of the novel everyone becomes a caricature of their former characters, taking themselves far too seriously instead of just accepting life for what it brings. What started as a charming dig at fictional people becomes engrossed in creating a world which the reader expects, without offering anything new.

In Looking for Alaska, the sudden death of Alaska prompted unexpected reactions in the characters. In The Fault of our Stars, their reactions are entirely predictable, although I noted the truth in Hazel’s realisation that funerals are only for the living and all funerals are alike, but we still say the service was lovely. I found this disappointing because I had somewhat enjoyed the unexpected character flaws in the first half of the novel.

Just like Looking for Alaska, this novel took me less than a whole afternoon to read. Even though the novel is over 300 pages long, it feels like a short story. There’s no real depth to the story whereas Alaska dug into layers (albeit shallow layers).

It’s everything one could want from a teenage-targeted novel. The beauty lies in its simplicity, and several times I thought of the film Love Story, which holds similar themes without any pretentious expectations. Unfortunately, I thought it was too simplistic after a very promising start.
3.5 out of 5 bookmarks

June 3, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment