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BOOK: ‘The Fault in our Stars’ too smart for its own good

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BOOK: ‘The Fault in our Stars’ too smart for its own good

Forest Liao

The stars may have faults, but they sure are pretty.

Book cover of The Fault in our Stars

The simplistic cover of John Green’s novel, The Fault in our Stars, gives nothing away. Its vague design deceptively hides the book’s wit. Image taken from Penguin Books.

Critically acclaimed YA author John Green, the author of the Michael L. Printz Award-winning novel Looking for Alaska, has recently published another best-selling book, The Fault in our Stars. Stars is the account of the whirlwind romance between teenagers Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters, made all the more significant by the fact that the two diagnosed with cancer. Green paints a vivid, quirky world that is vibrant with life, although the two protagonists, on the other hand, may not be.

The Fault in our Stars, however, may be too profound. The novel’s greatest strength, its intelligence and humor, is also its greatest weakness. Hazel and Augustus are probably two of the wittiest teenagers you will ever meet. When they decide to give away an old swing set — because, you know, that’s what teenagers do — they must come up with a headline. “Lonely, Vaguely Pedophilic Swing Set Seeks the Butts of Children,” Hazel quips as an option.

If you have an awesomely perfect sense of humor like mine, then this was one of the rare times a book has made you laugh out loud.

Augustus’s next line, however, lays it on a little thick. “That’s why I like you,” he says. “Do you realize how rare it is to come across a hot girl who creates an adjectival version of the word pedophile? You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.”
What kind of teenager says something like that? No teenager, that’s who. If you know a guy who would say something like that off the top of his head, tell me, because I’d have just found my new boyfriend.

Smart dialogue is all well and good, but when it gets to the point where it isn’t believable anymore, then there’s a problem. During a special dinner, Augustus’s father says to Hazel’s parents, “Our children are weird,” after Hazel and his son have a lengthy and verbose exchange. Yes, Augustus’s father, your child is weird. Very weird.

John Green has written a good book. If he had shown a little more restraint, it would have been a very good book. Whether or not it could have shined as bright as a star is debatable.