The Fault in Our Stars

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
The Fault in Our Stars Book Poster Image
Heartrending love story told by teen dying of cancer.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 28 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 321 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Will build vocabulary and awareness of literature, as the book makes references to Shakespeare, etc. (including the title, which comes from his Julius Caesar ("The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,/ But in ourselves, that we are underlings."). Can inspire discussions about fate, the meaning of life, thoughts about dying. 

Positive Messages

Hazel not only provides teens with insight about what it is like to know you are dying -- and to lose someone you love -- but her story is also about deciding to love and be loved, even when you know it will cause pain.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hazel is a smart, funny narrator, and readers will appreciate the flawed but loving characters throughout. Most notably, readers will be amazed by her parents, who try to be truly supportive to their daughter always, even though their hearts are breaking and they don't always agree with her choices.

Violence

There is no out-and-out violence here, but sensitive readers should know that there are graphic descriptions of what it is like to suffer through cancer. Hazel has some near-death experiences and also copes with Gus as he vomits uncontrollably. Characters lose eyes, legs, control of their personalities, and more.  Also, characters play violent video games and read books and watch movies with high body counts.

Sex

The two main characters, who are in love, do have (safe) sex, though it is described only briefly.

Language

Some mature language that seems realistic given the age of the main characters: stuff like "bull----," "bastards," "nuts," etc.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main characters drink champagne, etc., on a trip to Amsterdam, and Gus puts cigarettes in his mouth (but doesn't smoke them).  Some discussion of fictional cancer drugs. An adult character is an alcoholic who begins drinking early in the morning.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Fault in Our Stars is a story about teens fighting cancer, and sensitive readers might be uncomfortable with the subject matter and sometimes graphic descriptions of what it's like to die. Hazel has some near-death experiences and also copes with Gus as he vomits uncontrollably, etc. Characters lose eyes, legs, control of their personalities, and more. Also, characters play violent video games and read books and watch movies with high body counts. There's some swearing and drinking, and the two main characters, who are in love, do have (safe) sex, though it's described only briefly. This is a mature and powerful story: Hazel not only provides teens with insight about what it is like to know you're dying -- and to lose someone you love -- but her story is also about deciding to love and be loved, even when you know it will cause pain.

User Reviews

Adult Written bymaryamomarhuss February 24, 2014
Adult Written byMosaCarter January 27, 2012

Best Book I Have Read In A Long Time.

John Green enlightens his audience with a slue of characters that are both relatable and lovable. As the story lays itself before you, you enter into a world of... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byxaltrockgirlx January 13, 2012

Best John Green book yet!

I just finished this book in less than two days after both laughing and crying. When I heard that John Green had released a new book, I immediately had to go to... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bycolorsgirl February 16, 2012

Wonderful book for mature teens

This is THE most amazing book I have ever read. It's better than Harry Potter. The writing is fantastic, and the philosophical questions it deals with are... Continue reading

What's the story?

Hazel knows she is dying of cancer, and even when she makes an instant connection with survivor Augustus Waters at a youth support group, she is determined not to start a romance with him ("I'm a grenade and at some point I'm going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?"). Even so, when he uses his Wish to take her to Amsterdam to meet a reclusive author she loves, it is impossible to deny that he loves her -- and she loves him. And though she soon learns that Gus has a painful secret, Hazel learns that loving others is worth it, even when it leaves a "scar."

Is it any good?

Be prepared: This is a tearjerker dealing with dying -- and surviving the death of a loved one. Parents who read this book along with their teens will be particularly moved by Hazel's parents, who soothe her anxiety by telling her about their plans for after she has died ("Even when you die, I will still be your mom, Hazel ... how could I stop loving you?"). Green wrote this book after making a friendship with a teen with cancer, and his attention to detail is remarkable, from descriptions of equipment to what it feels like to be stared at by well-meaning strangers. Readers may be perplexed about an alcoholic author who begins making appearances in Hazel's life, and may be unsure if he is really there or just a symbol. This decision seems a bit out of step with what is otherwise a realistic and emotionally harrowing book about love and loss. But Hazel's honest narration and her strength to love despite the consequences will capture teens' attention most. In the end, this is a painful book, but well worth it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it would be like to know you are dying. Would you do anything differently? Why does Hazel say she feels like a "grenade" and tell her parents she wants to "minimize the casualties" by staying away from people?

  • Also, the author's other books, such as Looking for Alaska, are often called edgy. What makes a book "Young Adult," and when does it crossover into being an adult story? Does it have to do mostly with the age of the narrator, or something else?

Book details

Themes & Topics

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