Individual Reading Progress

Frosty Vicky
5 min readFeb 28, 2023

I’m used to the fact that many things reach me late. I watch films and series when their peak of popularity comes to an end, and the situation with books is the same sometimes. I’ve heard a lot about “The Fault in Our Stars” and I know how touching and incredible the book is, and that was quite a good reason to take up reading it more than ten years after its publishing. Somehow I hadn’t gotten any spoilers before I started reading it, so it was new and intriguing for me.

According to the PDF file of this book, “The Fault in Our Stars” contains 203 pages. If I read the paper book, there would be probably twice as many pages. Not a lot, but I know myself well enough to realize that it will take me much time to read such a book till the end. I turned out to be wrong.

My journey in this book has lasted two months. One of the main reasons for it is the language. Colloquial speech often used in the book as the main characters are teenagers makes it quite easy to read, and in general the structure of the sentences is not complicated. This book resembles a slow flow of water that gradually takes a reader somewhere. And of course this book has one of the greatest peculiarities of truly good books: you can’t stop until you read it till the end.

The book made me change my mind about first person narrative. For me it always seemed to be too boring and one-sided not only in terms of conveying information, but also in terms of structure of sentences which used to abound with the personal pronoun “I”. However, it turned out that “I” appearing repeatedly is not always necessary, and it’s actually possible to write in first person narrative in quite a good way. I suppose this technique of narration is used by John Green for us to have sympathy for the main character, to understand her more.

I also noticed the use of words written in large letters. This, however, seemed strange to me. I had an immediate association with caps lock used in chats as if to show that an interlocutor was shouting at you. Yes, I know that in the novel it’s used to emphasize particular words, but if I were an author I’d just highlight them. But anyway, that peculiarity didn’t make the book worse.

Also among peculiarities I’d remark on vocabulary connected with medicine as the main characters are diagnosed with cancer and the medical sphere for them is not just about going to hospital once a year. Such vocabulary made the book harder to read as it’s a narrower field.

Speaking about the genre, it’s a novel. It touches philosophical, moral and social issues; the evolution of the character throughout the book can’t stay unnoticed; the plot is multilinear, covering the fate of several heroes. There are lots of metaphors in the book, like that famous moment with the cigarette, for example. Depression in the book is a side effect of dying. And there are many more cases of metaphors that make the images more vivid and correlate with the main theme of the book.

There are actually lots of themes in the book such as love and friendship, pain and suffering, life and death. I’d call death the primary theme in this novel. Almost all the main characters are diagnosed with cancer. The end is the same for all of us, though people like Hazel are going to come to this end earlier, and they know it. Though Hazel wanted to look strong, she admitted that her death would bring pain to her parents and those around her. That’s why she doesn’t want to get closer to other people. “I’m like a grenade, Mom. I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?” That’s why Hazel tried to resist falling in love with Augustus.

Death contains lots of problems and fears, like being unremembered, for example. Augustus was afraid of it. He didn’t want to become just another unremembered casualty of cancer. What really surprised me is that no one in this book thinks about uncertainty when it comes to death. They think about being unremembered, they think of their relatives that are going to suffer, they think of eulogies at their funeral, but no uncertainty. They either really don’t think about it, or they’re afraid of it so much that they prefer not to bring this up. They must be really strong if they keep quiet about it.

All the characters are versatile in the book, but it’s easier to trace the development of the main ones. I’ll tell you about Augustus in brief. Augustus knows he’ll die. Sooner or later — likely sooner — but this will happen. Augustus likes holding a cigarette in his mouth but never lights it up — rebellion against death. You hold a cigarette, but you don’t let it kill you. Truly metaphorical, and probably inspiring and giving hope. Augustus is charismatic and he knows it. He knows that he’s special. Irrespective of cancer and prosthetic leg, irrespective of a sad destiny, he is sure he can leave a mark and stay remembered after death. Gus fears oblivion and he’s ready to do his utmost to avoid it.

Person’s mindset can change due to lots of factors. Gus’ worldview may seem too narcissistic to other people, to those who don’t imagine how many people become unremembered casualties of cancer. However, even this view on life can change, and in the book metamorphoses happen to him due to Hazel Grace. She doesn’t see any point in being remembered by literally everyone or at least a lot of people. She just lives. She reads books, wants to find answers and dreams to go to Amsterdam to see his favorite author. She is afraid to hurt people around her and she endlessly loves Augustus.

“I lit up like a Christmas tree, Hazel Grace. The lining of my chest, my left hip, my liver, everywhere.”

Thanks to her, Augustus realizes that he doesn’t need to be remembered by literally everyone. A few beloved people who’ll remember you forever are enough. Thanks to her he manages to stay strong as long as he can.

The ending of the book is completely heartbreaking, but, unfortunately, it wasn’t unexpected. The end was inevitable.

One of the main thoughts I noticed, however trivial it sounds, is that we need to appreciate our lives. People diagnosed with cancer have the opportunity to make one biggest wish come true and they are truly happy about it. We have more opportunities to make as many wishes as we have come true. It’s valuable, it’s precious.

Another idea is that the world is not “a wishgranting factory”. That’s also true. Some wishes can’t be granted, and not everything goes the way we want to, but that’s okay. I think we all understand that. However, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take risks in attempts to make our lives and this world more vivid. People around us are a great constituent of a good, valuable life with all its ups and downs.

“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.”

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