main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Kickstarter Message
TV Tropes Needs Your Help
Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
View Kickstarter Project
Literature: The Fault in Our Stars
"I can't tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity."
I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.
Hazel Grace Lancaster

The Fault in Our Stars is the fourth solo novel by author John Green, released on January 10th, 2012. The book focuses on a girl named Hazel Grace Lancaster, who is a teenage recluse: her best friends are her parents and her preferred hobby is rereading her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, over and over. One night at Support Group (her parents' idea, not hers), she meets gorgeous and philosophical Augustus Waters, who piques her curiosity and gets her thinking again about life, adventure...and love. There's only one snag in this budding romance: Hazel and Augustus met at a cancer support group. Hazel has thyroid cancer and terminal lung tumors, biding their time against perilous drugs, and Augustus is in remission after bone cancer took his leg.

Before the book was released, it reached #1 on the and Barnes & Noble bestseller lists in June 2011, shortly after its title was announced. Barnes & Noble had accidentally released more than a thousand copies prematurely, however, the fandom vowed not to spoil the book for those who had not received copies.

A blog where John answers questions about TFIOS is currently available here for anyone who has finished reading the book, and only for people who have finished the book. (It is no longer password-protected, although one still runs a high risk of major spoilers.)

A movie adaptation, starring Shailene Woodley as Hazel and Ansel Elgort as Augustus, was released in June 2014. There's also what could be considered a companion book, This Star Won't Go Out, which is the autobiography of Esther Grace Earl, a young girl with terminal cancer similar to Hazel's. Esther and John Green were friends, and she was the inspiration for—though not the direct basis of—Hazel.

Tropes present in The Fault In Our Stars include:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Peter van Houten is played by Willem Dafoe in the movie, and,unsurprisingly, he's more attractive than the fat and spindly Peter in the book.
  • Adapted Out: Minor characters like Kaitlyn, Lydia and Gus' sisters are not present in the film. Van Houten gives Augustus' eulogy to Hazel personally, while Isaac fills the slightly comedic relief role. Some other scenes are also cut to improve the flow (and shorten the length) of the film. John Green's cameo as the parent of Jackie, the little girl who wanted to try on Hazel's cannula, was also cut.
  • Adorkable:
    • Both Hazel and Augustus. Lampshaded by each other multiple times. A more specific example would be Augustus's reaction to flying on a plane for the very first time.
    • Isaac, too.
  • The Alcoholic: Peter Van Houten.
  • And Zoidberg: The sign Hazel's father holds up at the airport—"My Beautiful Family (and Gus)".
  • Artificial Limbs: Augustus has a prosthetic leg due to his osteosarcoma.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Hazel and Augustus in front of a crowd of tourists in the Anne Frank house.
  • Black Comedy: In spades. Hazel and Augustus joke about how Augustus is so handsome he literally blinded Isaac and "took Hazel's breath away". Isaac's eulogy for Augustus at the "prefuneral" also counts.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: When Monica's mom finds Gus, Hazel, and Issac egging her daughter's car.
  • Bittersweet Ending: With a story like this, what did you expect?
  • Broken Pedestal: Peter Van Houten for Augustus and Hazel.
  • California Doubling: Pittsburgh will play Indianapolis in the movie, due to Pennsylvania offering more generous film-production tax credits than Indiana.
  • Complete The Quote Title: From Shakespeare's line in Julius Caesar: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves." Green argues that the fault can be in our stars and not ourselves. Sometimes our downfalls and our weaknesses really aren't our fault. We did nothing wrong and bad stuff still cancer.
  • Creator Cameo: John Green was supposed to play the father (it was a mother in the book) whose child wanted to try on Hazel's cannula, but the scene was cut.
  • Cultural Translation: As The Film of the Book was produced by Fox, films and TV shows mentioned in the book are replaced by approximately-equivalent Fox properties in the movie. Instead of America's Next Top Model and 300, Hazel and Augustus watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, and Aliens.
  • Danger Takes A Back Seat: Peter Van Houten scares Hazel when he pops up in the back of her parents' van.
  • Dead Man Writing: Hazel and Lidewij track down Augustus' last letter to Van Houten, which turns out not to be the sequel to An Imperial Affliction but his eulogy for Hazel.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Hazel, Augustus, Isaac, and Hazel's mom, sometimes. And Peter Van Houten.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: It's a book about two teenagers with cancer who fall in love. How did you think this was going to end?
  • Delusions of Eloquence: Augustus and Hazel are borderline cases—they get some of their longer and/or rarer and/or archaic words right and then misuse "transmit" or "soliloquy", for just two examples.
  • Disabled Love Interest: Augustus, in Hazel's view. See Artificial Limbs.
  • Disabled Snarker:
    • Hazel and Augustus make for a snarky couple.
    • Isaac is pretty snarky too, especially after his surgery.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Kaitlyn loses track of the conversation just from the thought of Augustus.
    Kaitlyn: Oh, my God. I've seen him at parties. The things I would do to that boy. I mean, not now that I know you're interested in him. But, oh, sweet holy Lord, I would ride that one-legged pony all the way around the corral.
    Hazel: Kaitlyn.
    Kaitlyn: Sorry. Do you think you'd have to be on top?
    Hazel: Kaitlyn.
    Kaitlyn: What were we talking about?
  • Door Stopper: Not the book itself (a modest 300 pages, hardcover), but In-Universe, An Imperial Affliction is stated to be over six hundred pages long.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Augustus; neither his prosthetic right nor real left foot on the accelerator and/or brake quite works for him. Hazel suspects that the examiner who licensed him (on the third try) only passed him as a "Cancer Perk".
  • Fictional Counterpart: The Genie Foundation, which grants wishes to cancer patients. Also, Free Catch All (Craigslist).
  • Fictional Document: An Imperial Affliction.
  • The Film of the Book: Released in June 2014.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: Gus says he doesn't believe in this, but does say he believes in "Something".
  • Freestate Amsterdam: Mostly averted although Augustus and Hazel are served champagne quite openly. It's noted in passing that this was paid for by Van Houten (or by Lidewij with his money), not the Genies.
  • Funny Background Event: Isaac beating the crap out of Gus' trophies and egging Monica's car, both of which happen during Gus and Hazel's heart-to-hearts.
  • Gallows Humor: Tonnes of it.
  • Genre Savvy: The main characters know every terminal illness trope in the book.
  • Get Out: Hazel yells this at Van Houten when he gets into her car to try and talk to her.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The lyrics to Afasi och Filthy's "Boomfalleralla" would probably be enough to bump the movie up to an R rating by itself, if it was not in undubbed Swedish. The crap also got past all of the characters in the novel and film, none of whom speaks Swedish.
  • Glass Eye: Isaac has one, at first.
    • Anna's mother in An Imperial Affliction.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: The Hectic Glow, a band "so beautifully underground that they don't even exist".
  • Ill Girl: Hazel was diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at age 13, with metastasized tumors in her lungs.
    • Other examples include Caroline Mathers, Peter Van Houten's late daughter, and all the other girls at support group, obviously.
  • Jerkass: Van Houten, by his own admission. Though there may be hope for him after all. Maybe.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: Augustus enjoys doing this in video games to save the fictional schoolchildren. In a more poetic sense, when Hazel doesn't want him to love her because she is a "grenade" and her death will hurt him, he does anyway.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Anna in An Imperial Affliction, which ends right in the middle of a
  • Literary Allusion Title:
    • The title refers to a line from William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings."
    • In-universe, An Imperial Affliction is named for a phrase in the Emily Dickinson poem "There's a certain slant of light".
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Augustus Waters is a gender-inverted example, not only drawing Hazel out of her slump but helping her realize her dreams before the end.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Lidewij Vliegenthart was supposedly named for Lidewij and Sanne Vliegenthart—two Dutch nerdfighters. Sanne's channel is here.
    • Isaac, who has to get a surgery that causes him to go blind in order to get rid of his cancer, is named after the Biblical Isaac, who also went blind. ("Isaac" also sounds like "eye-sick", though John Green said this was more a happy accident. "I'm not that punny.")
    • John himself has confirmed that he came up with Hazel's name because hazel is an in-between color and she has an in-between life.
  • Men Don't Cry: Averted. Hazel's father bursts into tears in almost every scene he's in. But no one ever makes a negative remark about it.
    • Averted with Gus on a couple of occasions too. And Isaac.
  • Mood Whiplash: The day after Hazel and Augustus share their first kiss and make love, Augustus reveals that his cancer has returned and metastasized.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: One of Augustus's main reasons for pursuing Hazel.
  • Parents as People: Hazel's parents are shown to be very loving and supportive of her but also have their obvious frustrations with the burden her illness has put on their personal lives.
  • Pop-Up Texting: The film version did this, with sketchy "hand drawn" bubbles popping up whenever main characters August and Hazel text each other. They come across as a sketch of iPhone text bubbles.
  • Precision F-Strike: Hazel gives Van Houten one of these before storming out of his living room in the movie.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: A few people who reviewed the movie suggested that it was Hollywood-ized to some degree due to Augustus's chemo not resulting in any hair loss, but the writers did their research and the type of chemo that character would be on in their situation wouldn't result in any hair loss.
  • Reclusive Artist: Peter Van Houten is an In-Universe example, much to Hazel's dismay.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Gus' speech to Monica's mom after she catches him, Hazel, and Isaac egging Monica's car, which actually succeeds in getting her to leave them alone to finish their vandalism.
    "Ma'am, your daughter's car has just been deservedly egged by a blind man. Please close the door and go back inside or we'll be forced to call the police."
  • Replacement Goldfish: Considering how Hazel says her and Caroline's "cancer selves" could be sisters, Augustus's determination to get to know her as soon as he sees her (insisting she come to his house to watch a movie right then without actually asking her or considering that she might have other plans), and his giving her his Wish, essentially his most valuable possession, a mere two and a half weeks after meeting her, it really sounds like Hazel is Augustus's for Caroline, at least at the beginning of their relationship.
  • Running Gag:
    • The books based on Gus's favorite video game. Count how many times "Max Mayhem" is brought up after Hazel reads them.
    • America's Next Top Model.
  • Screw Destiny: In Norway, the book's title has been translated as Fuck Fate, which John Green finds to be a Woolseyism.
  • Shrug of God: Van Houten's In-Universe reaction when Hazel and Angustus ask Van Houten what happened to the characters of An Imperial Affliction and he tells them he doesn't know.
  • Shout-Out: At one point Augustus muses that it would be awesome to fly in a super-fast jet that could follow the sun. John's admitted to being a fan of Phineas and Ferb and this was the plot of their first special.
    • "Funky Bones" is located at Indianapolis Museum of Art, where Sarah Urist Green, aka The Yeti, is Curator of Contemporary Collections. The author's wife had a major hand in bringing the sculpture to Indy.
    • Hazel and Augustus watch V for Vendetta the first time she goes to his house.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Played for Laughs in this exchange:
    Augustus: But can I help my own deadly beauty?
    Hazel: You cannot.
    Augustus: It is my burden, this beautiful face.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Gus and his pack of "metaphorically resonant" cigarettes, although he just enjoys holding them in his mouth unlit (they're cancer survivors, not suicidal). Hazel calls him on it the first time she sees him do it. She's especially offended because she already has breathing problems and is on oxygen due to her lung tumors.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Hazel refers to Augustus and herself as this several times, most notably in her eulogy at the prefuneral.
  • Stealth Pun: The "blinding" of Isaac. Unintended, according to John Green.
  • Take That:
  • Teen Genius: Like many other John Green characters, Hazel and Augustus are insanely philosophical and verbally articulate for their age.
    • Notably, though, they do get a lot of things wrong. For example, Hazel misunderstands relativity, statistics, and the concept of infinity, and Gus says "soliloquy" when he means "monologue". According to the author, this was on purpose, to show that even though they're very intelligent, they're still young and inexperienced.
  • This Is a Work of Fiction: In the Author's Note:
    "This is not so much an author's note as an author's reminder of what was printed in small type a few pages ago: This book is a work of fiction. I made it up."
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth:
    • Augustus alludes to this, saying, "Like, are you familiar with the trope of the stoic and determined cancer victim who heroically fights her cancer with inhuman strength and never complains or stops smiling even at the very end, et cetera?"
    • "According to the conventions of this genre, he kept his sense of humor until the end, did not for a moment waver in his courage, and his spirit soared like an indomitable eagle until the world itself could not contain his joyous soul. But this was the truth..."
  • Trauma Swing: Gus is so attuned to the traumatic symbolism of Hazel's depressing old swing set that he helps her sell it on the internet.
  • Wham Line: "Just before you went into the ICU, I started to feel this ache in my hip...".
    • "Augustus Waters died eight days after his prefuneral." No matter how obvious or predictable it is that it's coming, it still hurts like hell.

Let It SnowCreator/John GreenGeektastic Stories From The Nerd Herd
A Farewell to ArmsLit FicFellow Travelers
The Farwalker TrilogyYoung Adult LiteratureFault Line
Family Tree SeriesLiterature of the 2010sThe Fear Index

alternative title(s): The Fault In Our Stars
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy