"I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."
— Hazel 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 extreme recluse: her only friends are her parents, and her preferred hobby is rereading her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, over and over. One night, while at a 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 and love. There's only one snag in this budding romance... Hazel and Augustus met at a Cancer Support Group. Hazel has terminal lung tumors which bide their time, and Augustus is in remission after bone cancer took his leg.Before the book was released, it reached #1 on the Amazon.com 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, is set to be released in June 2014.
Tropes present in The Fault In Our Stars include:
Adorkable: Both Hazel and Augustus. Lampshaded by each other multiple times.
Augustus's reaction to flying on a plane for the very first time.
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."
Kaitlyn: "Sorry. Do you think you'd have to be on top?"
Kaitlyn: "What were we talking about?"
Drives Like Crazy: Augustus; neither using his prosthetic right nor real left foot on the accelerator or brake quite works for him, and he suspects that the examiner who licensed him (on the third try) passed him as a Cancer Kid Perk.
California Doubling: Pittsburgh for Indianapolis (due to Pennsylvania offering more generous film-production tax credits than Indiana).
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.
Ill Girl: Hazel was diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at age 13, with tumors in her lungs.
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.
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.
Except Augustus isn't really a straight example in relation to Hazel, because she doesn't really buy into his grand heroic worldview. Instead of it being this grand revelation for her, she sees it as more staged and slightly off-putting (such as in his big rehearsed Dutch symbolism picnic/speech).
She says she likes him best when that falls away. Also, she refers to how he subverts the expectations of that trope when wailing about how he wants to die during a particularly bad night after he's found to be terminal.
Not quite a straight example of this trope in either case, as everyone knows neither of them are dead when they have the “prefuneral” for Augustus—who actually does end up dying days later—or when Gus and Van Houten write a eulogy for Hazel.
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.
Shrug of God: Van Houten's 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.
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 several things wrong. Hazel misunderstands both relativity 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 are still young and inexperienced.
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.
Neither novels or their readers benefit from attempts to divine whether any facts hide inside a story. Such efforts attack the very idea that made-up stories can matter, which is sort of the foundational assumption of our species.
The Fault in Our Stars kind of deconstructs the majority of illness tropes.
Augustus even alludes to this on page 173. "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 waiver 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..."