The Fault in Our Stars

Common Sense Media says

Heartwrenching love story told by teen dying of cancer.

Age(i)

2
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5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
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14
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

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

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
Not applicable
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.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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

Author:John Green
Genre:Coming of Age
Topics:Great girl role models
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Dutton Books
Publication date:January 10, 2012
Number of pages:336
Publisher's recommended age(s):14

This review of The Fault in Our Stars was written by

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About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byxaltrockgirlx January 13, 2012
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

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 Barnes and Noble to get it, and it did not disappoint. This is the first time he has written from a girl's perspective, but he does so hysterically yet realistically. Without his trademark sense of humor, this could have simply been a depressing book, but with it, it's almost... optimistic? Even though the book is not really violent, I can't think of how else to describe the fact that it may upset sensitive readers with its not so much graphic as simply intimate description of living and half-SPOILER (can't completely spoil it): knowing someone who dies of cancer. The one time the main character has sex with her boyfriend, it is not really described except for the fact that it is safe. There is language in this book, but it's not as harsh as Green's other books have been; language is about PG-13 level. The (teen) characters drink alcohol but don't really use it to drink to excess, unlike the author who Hazel (the main character) meets, but he is clearly not someone to look up to. Yes, the boyfriend (Augustus) does put cigarettes in his mouth, but does not smoke them. They are merely a metaphor, as he explains, for control over how he dies. Overall, this book was smart, funny, sad, and just plain awesome all at once. Unless you do not have a heart, you will be laughing and crying thoughout the whole book. DFTBA! (Post-note: after I finished, I gave it to my mom to read, since I've been dropping TFiOS in any reasonable conversation, and she had to read it to see what all the "John Green this and John Green that" fuss was about. Though she took longer to finish it than I did, I knew it affected her as well. She read most of it on a field trip with a my brother on the bus, and when she came home she was sniffling a little bit, and the sniffling got louder as she got comfortable on the couch. When I asked her if something was wrong, she simply said, "I just about finished The Fault in Our Stars, and I..." and she trailed off a little bit. It was that good, for both teenagers and adults.)
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educator and Parent Written bymaryamomarhuss February 24, 2014
AGE
15
QUALITY
 
What other families should know
Educational value
Great role models
Adult Written byMosaCarter January 27, 2012
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

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 love and defeat. Loss and victories. And you realize how fragile and valuable life really is. I loved this book. I will always love John Green and I have recommended this book to everyone in my life. It pens your eyes in a way that is memorable and incredible. Bravo, John. Bravo.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

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