I’m a little behind in reading this book, but to be honest, I’m not entertained by stories of immense sadness (the holocaust, slavery, kids dying, etc.). The title intrigued me, as it’s a play on the Shakespeare quote “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves”. This book is basically about two witty teens dying from cancer. Their entire situation is the evidence that “there is no shortage of fault to be found amid our stars.” I thought it was well written and an interesting portrayal of the life of Professional Sick Kids, I give it 3 (of 5) stars.
Click on the book cover for a link to the Amazon site for this book.
Here’s a breakdown…
My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement. Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers. Continue on at your own risk!
Hazel- The story is told from her point of view. She is dying of an incurable type of cancer, so through out the book her journey is never about hope for a cure, but for treatment to extend her life. Her take on her situation is mature, and doesn’t want Augustus (Gus) to fall in love with her because she doesn’t want him to be hurt when she dies.
Augustus- When Hazel meets him, he is cancer free. However, during their relationship (did I say SPOILER ALERT? stop reading now if you don’t want to know) his cancer comes back and he actually dies before she does. He has a strong desire to be a hero and for his life to be meaningful. I actually wondered if he loved Hazel because he wanted to do good (he fell so quickly for her…)
Isaac- Their friend from support group (which is Literally in the Heart of Jesus!). He starts with one eye, but loses the second to cancer, but he was more upset about his girlfriend breaking up with him before losing his second eye (she didn’t want to break up with him when he was blind.)
Characters Score: 3/5
There isn’t much going on here. The book centers around two kids, dying from cancer, who fall in love. They have several witty conversations and share an intelligence and sense of humor. They are both intrigued by the same book- An Imperial Affliction (AIA) (about a girl dying of cancer) and use Gus’s wish to travel to Amsterdam to see the author. The author ends up being a miserable drunk, since the book (AIA) is based on his own daughter who died of cancer at a young age.
Plot Score: 3/5
I thought the author did a good job of capturing the world of a Professional Sick Person. From the Cancer Perks and changing relationships (“I think my school friends wanted to help me through my cancer, but they eventually found out that they couldn’t. For one thing, there was no through”) to the effect they have on others (“I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow”), it seemed authentic.
World Building Score: 3/5
I enjoyed the witty conversation between the main characters. Some of my favorite lines:
“And I wondered if hurdlers ever though, you know, This would go faster if we just got rid of the hurdles”
“Without pain, how can we know joy…but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not in any way affect the taste of chocolate.”
“That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt”
“The sun was a toddler insistently refusing to go to bed: It was past eight thirty and still light”
“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world…but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers”
Style Score : 4/5
Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)
There is definitely a lesson of enjoying your own infinity.
“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”
There is also an exploration of what makes life meaningful:
“You say you’re not special because the world doesn’t know about you, but that’s an insult to me. I know about you.”
Life Lessons Score: 3/5
-I didn’t find much enjoyment in reading about kids dying of cancer.
-I kept thinking this book would end mid-sentence the way AIA ends, which story lines hanging.
Total Score and Recommendation
16/25- It’s not a bad book, just not one that I find entertaining.