Book Review: John Green, Cancer, & Obligation

Let me add my review of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars to the countable-because-computers-exist-but-don’t-ask-me-to-do-it number of reviews out there in the web.


I was eager to read this novel, having read good things about it, and being a fan of John Green, in general. With his novels, particularly Looking for Alaska, his videos, and his interaction with his legion of fans, what’s not to like?

John Green

I was eager to read this novel, but fear that I did not like it as much as some did. The novel is narrated by Hazel Grace, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been battling cancer for a few years, but is smart and funny despite the daily pain and suffering she endures. Hazel meets a guy, stalks a writer, and continues to live despite the cancer her body and experimental medications are unable to disperse.


While there were many moments of truth, wit, and clarity, overall, I was kind of disappointed by this novel. I think the reason is that it felt as though it was written out of obligation.

The inspiration for this novel was the lovely, now-deceased Esther Earl. Esther was a huge John Green fan who was terminally ill, and is now dead. She was an inspiration to many people, but I felt, while reading, that John Green felt that he had to write something about cancer because he had been affected by someone who died from it because it was expected, rather than because he needed to write to process it.

How's that for a run-on?

How’s that for a run-on?

This interpretation is really just a feeling that I got, and possibly I am just being picky, or I just didn’t think it was beautiful enough.

I will say that it’s not a horrible book, by any means, just a bit more dull, and definitely more predictable, than I expected.

At the same time, I felt that it did a good job of creating a realistic portrayal of teenagers suffering from terminal illness.

Have you read it? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!



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