Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green--Popular YA Novel Available on Blu-Ray & DVD Now!


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
is available in hardcover, paperback,
CD and Audio. [1]
Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

     "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings." [Cassius speaking to Brutus in Julius Cesar, Act 1, Scene 2.] The stars. What have they to do with anything? Well, in Shakespeare's era one's life was said to be controlled by the stars...as in astrological stars. You didn't control your life, the stars controlled your life, the stars controlled your destiny. You, therefore, were not responsible for your life. You were just along for the ride.

     Cassius, however, when he speaks to Brutus, says that the fault is not in "our" stars, but in "ourselves." This seems to imply that the individual is responsible for themselves. That we alone, not fate, not the stars, are responsible for our actions and choices. 

     Unfortunately, Cassius is using this seductive speech to Brutus to persuade him to join in the plot to assassinate Julius Cesar. Brutus is at war within himself. On the one hand, he has a deep friendship with Cesar, but on the other hand, he feels a compelling duty to Rome. Within himself Brutus see-saws with his emotions. Eventually, he gives in, and joins the conspirators in killing Cesar...to keep Cesar from attaining supreme power and to keep him, Brutus, from being an "underling."

The cover has inspired all
form of art--here, are Hazel
and Augustus with the
colors and cloud shapes
from the book cover
utilized in the design. [2][
     John Green the author of, The Fault in Our Stars, takes advantage of this well-known, iconic quote by William Shakespeare to grace the attractive and riveting cover of his new book. He uses it to great effect for the title of the story at which we will now take a look.

SHORT BOOK SYNOPSIS:
     Hazel Grace Lancaster walked in, "grazed" from the "decrepit" selection of cookies and poured a glass of something that looked like lemonade. She sat down in the "Circle of Trust," and like the other attendees recounted her name, her age, and her "diagnosis." "I'm Hazel...Sixteen...Thyroid originally but with an impressive and long-settled satellite colony in my lungs. And I'm doing okay." Every Wednesday, she attended the Cancer Support Group in the Episcopal Church basement. Every Wednesday, they sat in "Christ's very sacred heart and shared their feelings about dying and about fighting the cancer. It Sucked--so Hazel Grace mused. The only redeeming thing about support group was her friend Isaac--with whom she communicated with facial expressions and sighs.

[3]
     One Wednesday night meeting brings a change for everyone when fellow cancer survivor Augustus Waters shows up. It isn't long and the two fall for each other. Sassy, feisty Hazel Grace introduces Augustus to her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, and Augustus introduces Hazel Grace to, as he put it, a "brilliant and haunting novelization of [his] favorite video game," The Price of Dawn. After reading about Max Mayhem and his killing of 118 people in only 284 pages, she ran out and bought books two and three in the series: Midnight Dawns and Requiem for Mayhem.

I really love that so much of
Agustus and Hazel's relation-
ship centers around books, the
thoughts in the books, and the
ideas they present.  This is
a really great quote! [4]
     What follows are days of exhilaration--trips to Amsterdam--and days, of course, of suffering, for example when Hazel is rushed to the emergency room to have fluid pumped out of her lungs so she can get more air into her lungs and brain. In this emotionally tumultuous book, you'll find yourself on the edge of your seat as you sit turning page after page to find out what happens to Augustus and Hazel Grace, and to Isaac and their families. You sit in much the same way wondering about the outcome of the characters in the book as Hazel Grace and Augustus do for An Imperial Affliction. But even good stories come to an end...this one will definitely have you sitting on the edge of your seat right up to the last page.
     
WHAT I THINK ABOUT THE BOOK:
Hazel and Augustus share a love of reading. [5]
     First, and foremost, I absolutely love that these two vivacious and wonderful teen- agers both love to read. Their taste in books are dramatically different from each other. Then, when Hazel Grace and Augustus exchange their favorite books with each other, they each find that they learn and grow, and begin to see the world a little differently.

     In fact, much of the book deals with a book, An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten (Note: John Green created a fictional book and a fictional author--you won't find this book at your local book purveyor.). The book impacts them in how they think, what they think, and even their actions in their daily lives--to the extent that they find themselves in Amsterdam going to meet the author of the book.

Some of the memorable quotes from the book,
The Fault in Our Stars. [6]
     Second, John Green has given readers very memorable quotes throughout the book. Here are some examples: "...the universe [wants] to be noticed" (pp. 223, 294); "I'm on a roller coaster that only goes up..." (p. 217); "I used to think it would be fun to live on a cloud...." (p. 219); "You gave me a forever within the numbered days...." (p. 260); "Okay," "Okay" (multiple locations in the book); and, "Grief does not change you...it reveals you" (p. 285). So many memorable quotes have come from this book that I'm not even sure which one is my favorite...nah! It's got to be the one about reading a book and being filled with Evangelical zeal. Yeah. That's the one. But, dang...there are some really great quotes in there!

     Third, I like how John Green weaves, throughout his book, the theme of suffering. For example, after Gus tells Hazel that he fears oblivion, Hazel tells Gus that he was afraid of something that was "universal and inevitable." She said that suffering wasn't the real problem--or oblivion--but that it was the "depraved meaninglessness of these things, the absolutely inhuman nihilism of suffering" (p. 280). Wow! Hazel...I never knew you had it in you!


One of the more important themes
throughout the book concerns
pain and how we deal with it. [7]
     This is wonderful! For, earlier in the book, at Augustus's house she sees a drawing of an angel and underneath the picture a quote said, "Without Pain, How Could We Know Joy?." Augustus's mom says that she loves the quote and asked Hazel if she did, too. Hazel thinks about the quote's "stupidity and lack of sophistication." Hazel responds, "Yes...a lovely thought." (p. 35). Later, when she has to deliver a eulogy, Hazel refers to the angel drawing and quote and says, "There's a great quote...Without pain, we couldn't know joy" (p. 272). Hazel says that she continued "spouting bullshit" at the eulogy because she realized that funerals were for the living.

Another great quote from the book. [8]
Fourth, and finally, let's go back to the quote about the fault in our stars. One could argue that the quote means that you, individually, are to blame for whatever bad things happen to you in your life. Others might insist that, no, it isn't our fault that bad things sometimes just happen and can't be avoided in life. And, unlike Brutus, above, who has a choice in whether or not to join in the assassination of Julius Cesar, his friend, Hazel and Augustus (and others) do not. Hazel and Augustus do not have a choice about the cancer and they certainly don't seem able to do anything much about it except either accept the pain, or rail against the "depraved meaninglessness...[and the] inhuman nihilism of suffering."

     Perhaps, the fault is, indeed, within us all, but like Augustus says, no one is bad, not even the cancer that is in them, because it, too, only wants to survive. Therefore, whether or not the fault is in their stars, or within them, the message seems to be that Hazel and Augustus choose love over the pain. You can't avoid it, death comes for us all. Hazel also talks about the two kinds of people in life. So, she realizes that she can choose for herself whether to run from it (like Peter Van Houten) or to accept the pain that comes with the love she feels for Augustus and her parents.

     I found for your convenience, a YouTube trailer about the upcoming (to U.S.) movie to be released June 6, 2014. Please enjoy. [9]



     The Fault in Our Stars (the movie) writing credits go to John Green (novel), Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (screenplay), and directing credits go to Josh Boone. The movie will star Shailene Woodley as Hazel Grace, Ansel Elgort as Augustus Waters, Nat Wolff as Isaac, Willem Dafoe as Peter Van Houten, Laura Dern as Mrs. Lancaster (Hazel's mother), Sam Trammell as Mr. Lancaster (Hazel's father), and Lotte Verbeek as Lidewij Vliegenthart. The movie is rated PG-13. A fun trivia fact from IMDb: Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort also star in Divergent (as brother and sister--see my review of Divergent, here.), but here, they play the protagonists of the story! Additionally, we've been told to keep on the look out for a movie goof up: Hazel's phone switches colors! from white to grey and back and forth. Very funny. [10]

[11]

[12]
     First, it is a book about cancer. There have been so many cancer books out there, I wonder why we really needed another one. And then, the topic itself, is a downer. In my life, in my family, I've lost a number of people. Some were to cancer, but most losses in my family have been from other causes. I don't want to hide from the truth that everyone dies, I just don't want it thrown in my face. Thinking about my lost family members are hard enough without having to dredge up all the negative feelings, again.

     Second, even though John Green gives us two appealing protagonists in Augustus and Hazel, they are a bit cookie cutter-like. Hazel is the slightly irreverent, slightly rebellious, angst-driven teenager (who, by the way would fit in, even without having cancer).

Hazel thinks Augustus is hot. [13]
     Augustus is the sensitive, appreciative boy next door trying so hard to make it into adulthood and experience the love (and sex) he will never have because he has lost a leg to cancer--and that makes him so unappealing? What? How did Hazel describe him? "Hot!" Okay. You get the idea. I think Augustus might get lucky.



[14]
     And, I felt a little like my emotions were being "played." I didn't like that I felt a bit manipulated. Still, all in all, John Green did a credible job drafting his story. One place you can see it is in the thoughtful way he wrote the quotes and dialog for Augustus and Hazel. Yes, the book, over all, is a good book and the writing is really well done. But a book can't just live on quotes, even good ones. And, I didn't like having my emotions pulled.

MY RECOMMENDATIONS AND RATINGS:
THE RECOMMENDATIONS: The movie, The Fault in Our Stars, is rated PG-13. I would, likewise, label the book similarly. The very young (under 13) and the very sensitive viewer/reader should be cautioned. Intense medical issues take place in the book and those who have lost relatives or friends should be forewarned about the intense psychological impact it could have on them. For mature teens, the book and movie (following the movie rating system) should be fine.

4 stars out of 5. [15]
THE RATING:  The book was relatively easy to rate. I will probably not read this book again because it is a bit of a downer. It should have been a 5 star book--but for the problems. I rate this book 4.0 stars out of 5, for all the reasons I've given, above.
   

        Thank you for taking time to join me this week to look at the exciting, hot, popular book, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. The movie trailer looks really good to me, and I am planning on going out to see it the day of its release. I liked Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in Divergent. I think they are wonderful actors and hope they have a successful movie. Join me again next week as we examine another book--and remember, pick up something and read it. Books are simply wonderful things...God bless you all.

 


Until next time...

[16]
...many happy pages of reading!

All my love,

Sharon.



REFERENCES
_________________________________________________________
[1] "The Fault in Our Stars." amazon.com. Retrieved 05-13-14.
[2] "The Fault in Our Stars." [Deviant Art] jessica500.deviantart.com. Retrieved 05-20-14.
[3] "An Imperial Affliction Cover Doodle."  hazelgracedalaska.tumblr.com. Retrieved 05-21-14.
[4] "The Fault in Our Stars." the-fault-in-our-stars-quotes.tumblr.com. Retrieved 05-21-14.
[5] "The Fault in Our Stars." chausseclasses.wikispaces.com. Retrieved 05-21-14.
[6] "The Fault in Our Stars." pinterest.com. Retrieved 05-21-14.
[7] "The Fault in Our Stars: Quotes." wattpad.com. Retrieved 05-21-14.
[8] "Words Have The Power to Change Us." onebookcantransformyou.tumblr.com. Retrieved 05-21-14.
[9] "The Fault in Our Stars." imdb.com. Retrieved 05-22-14.
[10] "The Fault in Our Stars." youtube.com. Retrieved 05-22-14.
[11] "What I Didn't Like." theyasminepubliclibrary.waordpress.com. Retrieved 05-22-14.
[12] "Ciwon sankaran mama." hausa.rfi. Retrieved 05-22-14. 
[13] "Hot Markets for Global Recruiters." npaworldwide.com. Retrieved 05-22-14.
[14] "Why Did the Girls Cry?" riprenfield.com. Retrieved 05-22-14.
[15] "Miss Dial." indiejudge.com. Retrieved 05-22-14.
[16] "28 White Roses Pictures For Free Download." funstock. Retrieved 05-22-14.
[*] "B Seen - B Found - B Heard." yellowschmello.com. Retrieved 05-19-14.


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