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Literature: The Fault in Our Stars

"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 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, adventure... 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, 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 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. A more specific example would be Augustus's reaction to flying on a plane for the very first time.
  • 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's jokes about how Augustus is so handsome he literally blinded Isaac and "took Hazel's breath away." Also, Isaac's eulogy for Augustus at the "prefuneral."
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: When Monica's mom finds Gus, Hazel, and Issac egging her daughter's car.
  • Broken Pedestal: Peter Van Houten, for Augustus and Hazel.
  • California Doubling: Pittsburgh will be used as a substitute for Indianapolis in the movie, due to Pennsylvania offering more generous film-production tax credits than Indiana.
  • Chekhov's Gun: An Imperial Affliction, as it leads Hazel and Augustus to Amsterdam to met Van Houten.
  • Creator Cameo: It's confirmed that there will be one in the movie, with the most common guess being that he'll be making a Vlogbrothers video in the airport.
  • 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, as well as Hazel's mom, sometimes. And Peter Van Houten, though he's a real jackass about it.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: C'mon...it's a book about two teenagers with cancer who fall in love. How did you not know how this was going to end?
  • Disabled Love Interest: Augustus in Hazel's view, see Artificial Limbs above.
  • 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?"
  • 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.
  • 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: In production as of this edit.
  • 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.
  • Gallows Humor
  • Genre Savvy: The main characters know every terminal illness trope in the book.
  • 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 tumors in her lungs.
  • 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.")
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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 are cancer survivors, not suicidal).
  • 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 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 a Work of Fiction:
    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.
    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.
    I appreciate your cooperation in this matter.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth:
    • Augustus 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..."
  • Trauma Swing: Gus is so attuned to the traumatic symbolism of Hazel's depressing old swingset 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..."

A Farewell to ArmsLit FicFellow Travelers
The Farwalker TrilogyYoung Adult LiteratureFearless
The Fall of the Sea PeopleLiterature of the 2010sThe Fear Index

alternative title(s): The Fault In Our Stars
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