#1 New York Times Bestseller
#1 Wall Street Journal Bestseller
#1 USA Today Bestseller
#1 International Bestseller
TIME Magazine’s #1 Fiction Book of 2012
TODAY Book Club pick
Now a Major Motion Picture
Hazel Grace Lancaster—a 16-year-old with cancer that has spread to her lungs—attends a cancer patient support group at her mother’s behest. At first, she hesitates because she feels like it has done nothing for her. She thinks attending the support group could be the worst part of her life, until at one particular support meeting, Hazel meets a 17-year-old boy named Augustus Waters, whose osteosarcoma caused him to lose his right leg, which was replaced with a prosthetic. Augustus is at the support meeting to support Isaac, a boy Augustus’ age with eye cancer. Upon catching Augustus staring at her, Hazel suddenly feels self conscious. They meet after the support group and converse on the fact that they were not “literally” in the heart of Jesus, but in a basement. When everything seems to go well, Augustus pulls out a cigarette and puts it between his lips. Hazel is disgusted by this and yells at him saying that he’s already got cancer and he wants to pay money for more cancer, “Not being able to breathe sucks,” she yells. Augustus calmly explains the metaphor, which is, “You put the thing that kills you right between your teeth but you don’t give it the power to kill you.” Hazel, impressed by this, goes to his place to watch a movie. Hazel and Augustus strike a bond immediately and agree to read each other’s favorite novels. Augustus gives Hazel The Prince of Dawn, and Hazel recommends An Imperial Affliction, a novel written by Peter Van Houten, who lives in Amsterdam, about a cancer-stricken girl named Anna that parallels Hazel’s own experience. After Augustus finishes reading her book, he is frustrated upon learning that the novel ends abruptly without a conclusion. Hazel explains the novel’s author had retreated following the novel’s publication and has not been heard from since.
A week later, Augustus reveals to Hazel that he has tracked down Van Houten’s assistant, Lidewij, and, through her, has managed to start an e-mail correspondence with Van Houten. The two write to Van Houten with questions regarding the novel’s ending and the fate of the mother of Anna. Van Houten eventually replies, explaining that he can only answer Hazel’s questions in person. At a picnic, Augustus surprises Hazel with tickets to Amsterdam to meet Van Houten.
While in Amsterdam, Augustus confesses his love for Hazel. Hazel and Augustus finally meet Van Houten but are shocked to find that he is a mean-spirited drunk. Horrified by Van Houten’s behavior, Lidewij confesses to having arranged the meeting on his behalf, angering Van Houten, who proceeds to insult Hazel’s cancer, starting an argument and causing Hazel and Augustus to flee from the drunken author’s home. Later that night they have sex in Augustus’s hotel room, the first time for both of them.
Augustus confesses to Hazel that his cancer has returned. The two affirm their love and support for one another. Upon their return to Indianapolis, Augustus’s health worsens and he ends up in the ICU for a few days. Fearing his death, Augustus invites Isaac and Hazel to his pre-funeral, where they give eulogies. An extremely sick Augustus dies soon after. This leaves Hazel heartbroken and she doesn’t know what to do with herself. After this traumatic event, Van Houten shows up at Augustus’s funeral to apologize to Hazel.
Hazel learns that Augustus was writing a sequel to An Imperial Affliction. Hazel reads Augustus’s words. He says getting hurt in this world is inevitable, but we do get to choose whom we allow to hurt us, and that he is happy with his choice, and hopes she likes her choice too. The book closes with Hazel stating that she is happy with her choice.
CRITICAL ACCLAIM FOR THE FAULT IN OUR STARS:
“Damn near genius . . . The Fault in Our Stars is a love story, one of the most genuine and moving ones in recent American fiction, but it’s also an existential tragedy of tremendous intelligence and courage and sadness.” —Lev Grossman, TIME Magazine
“The greatest romance story of this decade.” —Entertainment Weekly
“This is a book that breaks your heart—not by wearing it down, but by making it bigger until it bursts.”
“A story about two incandescent kids who will live a long time in the minds of the readers who come to know them.”
“Remarkable . . . A pitch-perfect, elegiac comedy.”
“A smarter, edgier Love Story for the Net Generation.”
“Because we all need to feel first love again. . . . Sixteen-year-old Hazel faces terminal cancer with humor and pluck. But it isn’t until she meets Augustus in a support group that she understands how to love or live fully.”
—Oprah.com, a Best Book selection and one of “5 Books Every Woman Needs to Read Before Her Next Birthday”
“[Green’s] voice is so compulsively readable that it defies categorization. You will be thankful for the little infinity you spend inside this book.”
“Hilarious and heartbreaking . . . reminds you that sometimes when life feels like it’s ending, it’s actually just beginning.”
“John Green deftly mixes the profound and the quotidian in this tough, touching valentine to the human spirit.”
—The Washington Post
“[Green] shows us true love—two teenagers helping and accepting each other through the most humiliating physical and emotional ordeals—and it is far more romantic than any sunset on the beach.”
—New York Times Book Review
“In its every aspect, this novel is a triumph.”
—Booklist, starred review
“You know, even as you begin the tale of their young romance, that the end will be 100 kinds of awful, not so much a vale as a brutal canyon of tears. . . . Green’s story of lovers who aren’t so much star-crossed as star-cursed leans on literature’s most durable assets: finely wrought language, beautifully drawn characters and a distinctive voice.”
—Frank Bruni, The New York Times
“A novel of life and death and the people caught in between, The Fault in Our Stars is John Green at his best. You laugh, you cry, and then you come back for more.”
—Markus Zusak, bestselling and Printz Honor–winning author of The Book Thief
“The Fault in Our Stars takes a spin on universal themes—Will I be loved? Will I be remembered? Will I leave a mark on this world?—by dramatically raising the stakes for the characters who are asking.”
—Jodi Picoult, bestselling author of My Sister’s Keeper and Sing You Home
“John Green is one of the best writers alive.”
—E. Lockhart, National Book Award Finalist and Printz Honor–winning author of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and We Were Liars
About the Author
John Green is the award-winning, #1 bestselling author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with David Levithan), and The Fault in Our Stars. His many accolades include the Printz Medal, a Printz Honor, and the Edgar Award. He has twice been a finalist for the LA TimesBook Prize. John was selected by TIME magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. With his brother, Hank, John is one half of the Vlogbrothers (youtube.com/vlogbrothers), one of the most popular online video projects in the world. You can join the millions who follow John on Twitter (@johngreen) and tumblr (fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com) or visit him online at johngreenbooks.com.
John lives with his family in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Top customer reviews
I am not quite finished with the book, but so far, I think it is very well written. It covers a topic that is difficult to talk about and is often avoided. It has been challenging for me to get through; however, I feel like I should add my perspective. I was diagnosed with cancer at 10. I am now 15 years old and a teen-age cancer survivor. I am a volunteer and advocate for pediatric cancer awareness.
This book has gotten negative reviews based on several points:
1) This is from another reviewer: “The characters are not believable. They do not speak like teenagers. They do not even handle situations like teenagers do. So many interactions between Gus and Hazel are interactions which, plain and simple, just would not happen between real, emotional, scared, awkward, virgin teenagers, let alone ones with cancer who have been socially cut off for much of their lives.”
*My point-of-view: Have you spent time with any of us? They are believable as teen-age cancer patients/survivors. We may look like teen-agers, but in our heads, we are not. We have had to face our own mortality and make choices we should never have to make. It makes us grow up…quickly. Most of us do not act or speak like teen-agers because that is no longer how we think. After treatment, many of us find the things most teens (and sometimes adults) are worried about are trivial. Society cuts us off, but we are not cut off from each other. These types of interactions do happen. And, it is emotional and scary, but we learn to tell it like it is, without the normal fluff and awkwardness. We find ‘normal’ where we can and try to live every single day we have because we know that time is an illusion.
2) The parents are not real, not deep characters, and they do not have their own identities.
*My point-of-view: I have seen my own parents (and siblings) and the parents of other friends struggle with this. Many times, they do not have their own identities anymore. Every single minute is spent trying to make it to the next! They try to keep the family together and functioning, in spite of the effects of treatment, fevers and midnight trips to the emergency room, 3 weeks of the month spent in isolation, jobs in jeopardy, birthdays and holidays interrupted, not to mention talks that parents never want to have with their child. I’ve talked to my mom about this. This becomes their identity. My mom said their jobs become about doing whatever it takes, travelling all over the country (which is very common), researching new studies, and new medicines, all to help us survive and thrive with grace and dignity. It is also their job to prepare, if treatments don’t work, to help us die with just as much grace and dignity.
I hope everyone can read this with an open mind and an open heart. Then, reach out to the patients and survivors in your communities. They are wise beyond their years, funny, brave and inspiring.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is quite possibly the best standalone novel I have ever read and is certainly the most phenomenal book I’ve had the privilege to experience in the year 2013. It is my third favorite story and favorite non-fantasy novel. The title comes from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and it sets the perfect tone for this story written in the first person by Hazel, a sixteen year old girl in the regressive stage of lung cancer who nevertheless is required to cart around an oxygen tank because (as she so perfectly puts it) her “lungs suck at being lungs.” Her mother forces her to go to a cancer patient/survivor group where she proceeds to exercise her considerable teenage snark and wit along with her friend Isaac who is suffering from a type of cancer that eventually requires the removal of an eye.
One day Hazel catches the attention of a boy named Augustus and their romance is as breathtaking and expedient as it is completely genuine and uncontrived. Augustus has recovered from bone cancer that left him with a prosthetic leg, but did nothing to diminish his spirit. She can scarcely believe he’s as perfect as he projects and indeed feels as though she’s found his hamartia or fatal flaw when he puts a cigarette in his mouth. Hazel is of course livid that anyone who survived cancer would willingly place themselves into its way again, but Augustus never lights them using the act as a metaphor of having “the killing thing right between your teeth, but you not giving it the power to do its killing.”
Both of them together have enough wit and snark to drown the world in metaphors and sarcasm with just the barest dash of bitterness for their plight. Hazel whom Augustus calls “Hazel Grace” for most of the novel feels incredibly guilty that she’s allowed Augustus to fall for her as she and her family expect her cancer to return full force at any moment, and yet their relationship parallels the ever moving train of her mortality. So much so that Hazel shares with him that her favorite book is a story by the reclusive author Peter Van Houten called An Imperial Affliction.
“My favorite book, by a wide margin, was An Imperial Affliction, but I didn’t like to tell people about it. 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. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising that affections feels like a betrayal.”
Van Houten’s work is very meta to the larger story at hand being about a girl named Anna who suffers from cancer and her one-eyed mother who grows tulips. But Hazel makes it very clear that this is not a cancer book in the same way that The Fault in Our Stars is not a cancer book. Anna grows progressively sicker and her mother falls in love with a Dutch Tulip Man who has a great deal of money and exotic ideas about how to treat Anna’s cancer, but just when the DTM and Anna’s mom are about to possibly get married and Anna is about to start a new treatment, the book ends right in the middle of a-
This drives Hazel and eventually Augustus up the wall to not know what happened to everyone from Anna’s hamster Sisyphus to Anna herself. Hazel assumes that Anna became too sick to continue writing (the assumption being that her story was first person just as Hazel’s is), but for Van Houten to not have finished it seems like the ultimate literary betrayal.
As terrified as Hazel was to share this joy with Augustus (and god knows I understand that feeling) it was the best thing she could’ve done because they now share the obsession and the insistence that the characters deserve an ending.
The conversations of Hazel and Augustus are not typical teenage conversations, but they’re not typical teenagers. Mortality flavors all of their discussions and leads to elegance such as
“The tales of our exploits will survive as long as the human voice itself. And even after that, when the robots recall the human absurdities of sacrifice and compassion, they will remember us.”
They speak of memory and calculate how there are fourteen dead people for everyone alive and realize that remembering fourteen people isn’t that difficult. We could all do that if we tried that way no one has to be forgotten. But will we then fight over who we are allowed to remember? Or will the fourteen just be added to those we can never forget? They read each other the poetry of T.S Eliot, the haunting lines of Prufrock,
“We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Til human voices wake us, and we drown.”
And as Augustus reads Hazel her favorite book she
“…fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
The quotes from this story are among the most poignant and beautiful I have ever seen.
“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”
“There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.”
When I finished this I thought to myself, “How am I going to read anything else? How will I find something to match this? How can I pick up another book and not expect it to resonate with this haunting beauty, this tragedy ringed with comic teenage snark and tones that are themselves tragic in their sarcasm like whistling in the ninth circle of hell or laughing uproariously at the monster?” I realized I was lost. I could think of no negative critique unless you count the fact that the two main characters have Dawson’s Creek Syndrome where they’re teenagers who speak as if they were philosophers, but then again Bill Watterson did the same thing with a boy and a stuffed tiger.
You realize the story’s hamartia doesn’t matter. That the fact that the plot may be cliched is unimportant and that dwelling on such trivialities is in and of itself a fatal flaw. This story is so much more than the letters and words on each page. It’s the triumph of morning over night when the night grows ever longer. It’s the dream of hope when you’ve done nothing but dine on despair. It is sad? Yes. It is heartbreaking? More so. Is it worth reading? Has anything sad and heartbreaking not been worth reading? The story of Hazel and Augusts deserves to be read just as the story of Anna, her mother, and dear hamster Sisyphus deserves an ending, and that becomes their exploit to seek out reclusive Peter Van Houten so that the characters can be properly laid to rest and remembered.
The best stories are about memory.