“The Fault in Our Stars” is a 2012 novel by the American author John Green. The novel was critically acclaimed and launched the career of its author. It was adapted into a successful movie in 2014 that grossed over 300 million worldwide.
The novel tells the story of a seventeen year old girl named Hazel Grace Lancaster who suffers from thyroid cancer. Hazel worries that her death will devastate her parents and leave them unable to go on without her. While attending a support group, she meets a boy her age named Augustus whose cancer is in remission.
Augustus and Hazel begin talking about her favorite book “An Imperial Affliction” and Augustus helps her write the author to ask about the books mysterious ending. The author writes back to say that they should come visit him in Amsterdam. During the trip, Augustus and Hazel fall in love. Unfortunately Augustus finds out that his cancer has returned and he slowly grows sicker over the next few months before dying. Hazel learns that she wouldn’t trade her time with Augustus for anything and therefore, her parents will be okay after she dies.
The book was praised by critics for its portrayal of cancer patients and romance.
The story is narrated by a seventeen year old girl named Hazel Grace Lancaster. Hazel has thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs. The book begins when her mother tells her that she feels that Hazel is becoming too depressed and that she needs to join a support group. The group meets at a church and is run by a former cancer survivor named Patrick whom Hazel dislikes. Hazel does not like the group except for one guy named Issac who lost his eye to cancer and is about to lose his other eye.
One day a new boy comes to the meeting. His name is Augustus Waters and he stares at Hazel during the group. Augustus is a cancer survivor but he has come to the meeting to support Issac. When Augustus is asked what he fears most he says “oblivion”. Hazel speaks up and says that she does not fear death because eventually all of humanity will die. She mentions her favorite book, “A Imperial Affliction” by Peter Van Houten.
After the meeting ends, Augustus and Hazel talk more about the book. Augustus says that Hazel reminds him of Natalie Portman in “V For Vendetta”. Augustus and Hazel flirt and he invites her over to his house to watch the movie. Augustus puts a cigarette in his mouth and at first Hazel is disgusted but he tells her that he does not smoke. Instead, he puts a cigarette in his mouth but does not light it so he doesn’t give it the power to hurt him.
On the ride to Augustus’s house, he reveals that he never passed his driving test but that the instructor gave him his license because he lost a leg to his cancer. He calls this a “cancer perk” along with other special treatment and favors that kids with cancer receive. Hazel says that her “cancer saga” began at thirteen when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had to have tumors removed from her lungs. She would have died if not for one of her doctors, Maria who was able to drain fluid from her infected lungs. Hazel has been taking an experimental drug called Phalanxifor. She is now taking classes at a community college.
At Augustus’s house, Hazel learns that his parents call him Gus and that he lives in a basement bedroom which is packed with trophies from his former basketball days. The pair talk about books again and Augustus agrees to read Hazels favorite book if she will read his, “The Price of Dawn”.
The next day, Hazel agrees to meet a friend named Kaitlyn at the mall to appease her mother’s desire to get her out of the house. After shopping for a short time, she pretends to be tired and says goodbye to Kaitlyn. Hazel starts reading “The Price of Dawn” and even goes to a bookstore to buy the sequel, “Midnight Dawn”. While she is reading at the mall, Hazel is approached by a child who asks about the cannula tube in her nose. Hazel tells the child that it helps her breath before he is whisked away by his mother.
In the next chapter, Hazel quickly summaries “An Imperial Affliction’s” plot. The book is about a girl named Anna who develops cancer and lives with her mother who falls in love with a rich man called The Dutch Tulip Man. The only thing Hazel does not like about the book is it’s inconclusive ending. The author has never talked about the real ending and stopped giving interviews after the book’s release. Meanwhile, Augustus is comforting Issac who got dumped by his girlfriend. Augustus encourages Issac to smash his own basketball trophies to express his anger.
A week later, Hazel and Augustus meet again. Augustus surprises Hazel by telling her that he has managed to get in contact with Van Houten’s (the author of “An Imperial Affliction”) assistant, a woman called Lidewij. She tells Hazel that they can ask Van Houten about the ending of the book through email and she spends hours trying to formulate the perfect question.
Days later, Augustus texts Hazel to tell her that Issac has had his surgery. He is now cancer free although he is eyeless. Hazel visits Issac the hospital. The next day, Van Houten answers her email stating that he has to answer her questions in person and offering her an invitation to visit him in Amsterdam. Augustus tells Hazel that she can ask for the money for the trip from The Genie Foundation, a charity organization that grants wishes for sick kids. However, Hazel has already asked for a wish from the foundation when she was first diagnosed.
Augustus again surprises Hazel by asking for a wish for himself and using it to fly both of them to Amsterdam. It is decided that Hazel’s mother will have to go with them. Augustus tries to kiss Hazel but she tenses up and does not kiss him. Later she realizes that she tensed up because she feel that she is a “grenade” and that when she dies (or explodes) she is going to hurt everyone around her. She tries to tell him and he says that he understands but continues to flirt with her. Hazel’s mother tells her that she brings her parents more joy than sorrow and that they don’t think of her like a grenade.
That night, she wakes with a sharp pain in her head and is rushed to the hospital. However, Hazel is found to be okay and has no new tumors. Hazel is unconscious for a few days and when she wakes she is told that Augustus has been outside in the waiting room the whole time. When he is allowed to see her, he gives a letter from Van Houten where he wishes her well.
Hazel’s doctors meet to decide if she is a viable candidate for a lung transplant. They decide to keep her on her treatment plan and monitor her progress. However, the doctors think that it is unwise for her to travel all the way to Amsterdam in her condition. Hazel tells Augustus that she cannot go. He comes over to her house to read aloud from “An Imperial Affliction” to her and this makes Hazel realize that she is in love with him.
The next day, Lidewij emails to say that her trip to Amsterdam has already been planned. Hazel is confused until her mother confesses that Dr. Maria changed her mind. She thinks that Hazel should be allowed to live her life and go to Amsterdam. On the morning of their trip, Hazel and her mother go to Augustus’s house to pick him up, but stop when they hear crying and shouting from inside the house. However, Augustus soon comes out and appears normal.
When they board the plane, Hazel has to take off her oxygen tank and cannula to get through security and is momentarily liberated by how free she feels without it. On the plane, Augustus reveals that he has never flown before but he is delighted and fascinated with the flight. Hazel is surprised to see a more innocent and childish version of Augustus. On the plane, Augustus confesses to Hazel that he loves her even though he knows that she is concerned with her inevitable death hurting him.
When they get to Amsterdam, the couple are delighted to find that Lidewij has booked them in a nice hotel and a fancy restaurant for the evening. They both dress up in evening clothes and go to the restaurant. They are given champagne and a Dutch woman who is riding by on a boat shouts at the them that they are a beautiful couple.
Augustus asks Hazel if she believes in the afterlife and she says that she doesn’t but internally thinks that she’s not sure. Augustus says that he believes in God, but he’s worried about not leading a meaningful life before he dies. Hazel thinks the idea that your life can only be meaningful if you have some great cause is annoying.
The next day, Hazel and Augustus go to visit Van Houten. However, they are shocked to see that he is a very rude and mean old man. Van Houten pretends not to know who they are and when they insist he says that he didn’t expect them to actually come and that their invitation was rhetorical. Lidewij admits that she arranged their trip himself because he thought it would be good for his boss.
Hazel tries to remind him of her questions but Van Houten drunkenly insults his own novel and makes fun of Hazel for her instinct that he had any deeper meaning in writing it. Hazel gets so angry that she slaps Van Houten’s glass out of his hand. Augustus drags her out of the house. He promises to write an epilogue for the book himself to cheer her up. Lidewij rushes out of the house after them and tells them that Van Houten wasn’t always so mean and vaguely mentions some circumstances that made him cruel. She suggests that they go tour Anne Frank’s house.
The group go to visit the house although it is difficult for Hazel as there are many flights of stairs to climb. Augustus wonders how Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father, managed to carry on after his family was killed. He tells Hazel that they should team up to fight bad guys. Hazel wants to kiss him, although she knows that the setting is inappropriate. They kiss anyway and when they break apart there is a crowd of people around them. Hazel thinks the people will be angry but they applaud the couple.
After the tour, Hazel and Augustus go back to their hotel and have sex for the first time. The next morning, Hazel tells her mother what happened during their meeting with Van Houten. Augustus ask Hazel to talk and confesses that his cancer has returned, he promises to fight it. Hazel cries and hugs him. She calls him ‘Gus’ for the first time as she has seen his parents doing. Augustus and Hazel lie together and think about treatment plans. Augustus feels that dying of an illness is not as noble as other deaths.
After getting back home, Issac reveals that his ex-girlfriend hasn’t spoken to him since his operation. Augustus is furious and the three decide to go over to the girl’s house and egg her car. When they are doing so Hazel snaps a picture of Augustus and the narration reveals that it is the last picture she ever took of him.
Soon, Augustus is rushed to the hospital with chest pains. Hazel is not allowed in his room and waits out in the waiting room. When Augustus is released, he is wheelchair-bound. Hazel and Augustus spend every day together playing video games and napping. One day, Augustus has a seizure and Hazel is the one that finds him lying in a puddle of his own urine. She tries to make him feel better by playing video games but he knows he is dying and worries that he did not lead a meaningful life. Hazel is offended that her thinking he is special apparently isn’t good enough for him.
As Augustus worsens, there is another incident where the G-tube in his abdomen becomes infected. He calls Hazel in the middle of the night and begs her to come pick him up at the gas station where he had gone to buy cigarettes. Hazel calls an ambulance and waits with him. Augustus is disgusted with himself and wants to die. Hazel realizes that he has changed so much since his diagnosis and now he is angry and pitiful.
Shortly after this, Hazel has a day with Augustus that she calls his “Last Good Day”. She says this is a cliché for cancer patients and that the “Last Good Day” is the last day that the pain seems bearable and the person is able to act like themselves. The problem is that you never know when this day is until after it is gone.
Hazel gets a call from Augustus to meet at the support group and he asks her to write his eulogy. When Hazel goes to meet him, her parents complain that they never see her anymore. Hazel gets angry and points out that they wanted her to get out of the house. Hazel tells them about the eulogy and says that she’ll be home every night soon enough.
At the church, Augustus and Issac are already holding a mock funeral. Issac jokes about Augustus being vain and pretentious but finishes by saying that he will reject any “robot eyes” in future so that he will not have to see a world without his friend. Hazel gives her eulogy, saying that Augustus was the love of her life and she will always be grateful for the “little infinity” that they had together.
Eight days later, Augustus dies. Hazel thinks that being without him is worse than any pain her cancer has given her. Hazel attends his funeral with her parents. Augustus’s mother tells Hazel that he loved her. Hazel looks down at Augustus in his coffin and thinks that his face looks plastic. He is wearing the same suit that he wore during their dinner out. Hazel sneaks a pack of cigarettes into his pocket.
During the funeral, Hazel is angered by all of the cliched things that are being said until Van Houten suddenly appears behind her and agrees that the minister’s eulogy is “horse crap”. Hazel and Issac give eulogies and afterward Van Houten rides back with Hazel and her parents. Van Houten admits that he was keeping tabs on Augustus online and that Augustus had still be writing to him. Augustus told him that he had to come to his funeral to apologize to Hazel and tells her the fate of Anna’s mother in the book. Van Houten explains Anna’s mother’s fate by vaguely saying “All cells come from cells” but Hazel declines further explanation. She calls Van Houten a drunk and kicks him out of the car.
Later, Van Houten goes to Hazel’s house to confess that she reminds him of Anna and that the character was based on his own daughter who died of cancer. Hazel tells him to sober up and keep writing and he agrees. Hazel sinks further into depression and has a fight with her mother about her worry that her parents wont be able to continue after she is gone. Her mother admits that she has been taking online classes and is trying to get her masters degree in social work. She wants to counsel other families. Hazel cries at this news because she is so happy.
Hazel tries to find the ending that Augustus was writing to “An Imperial Affection” and succeeds in finding a notebook with pages torn out. On the advice of Kaitlyn, she emails Lidewij to ask if Augustus sent her anything before he died. Lidewij finds the notebook pages and shows them to Van Houten who tells her to send them to Hazel and that he has nothing else to add.
The note ends up being a letter to Van Houten begging him to write a eulogy for Hazel. He says that everyone wants to leave their mark on the world, but Hazel only wishes not to harm anything. He says that we have no choice about getting hurt in this world but you can chose who hurts you. He says that he likes his choice and hopes she likes her. The final words of the novel are Hazel saying “I do.”
Hazel Grace Lancaster – the narrator of the book. Hazel is a seventeen year old girl who is suffering from thyroid cancer. At the beginning of the novel, Hazel is having trouble dealing with her illness and suffering from depression. When she goes to a support group she meets Augustus who pulls her out of her depression and helps her travel to Amsterdam to meet her favorite author.
Hazel is an old soul, and not just because of her illness. In comparison to her friend, Kaitlyn, Hazel is more considerate and focused. Hazel’s main problem in the story is the worry that her parents are going to be devastated by her death. Augustus says that she wishes not to harm anything and to tread lightly during her time on earth. She worries that her death will make her a ‘grenade’ harming everyone around her.
Throughout the novel, Hazel learns that her parents and loved ones care more about the time they spend with her than anything and that they will be alright after her death because they are prepared for it. Hazel’s need to finds out what happens to the characters at the end of An Imperial Affliction is mainly motivated by her need to know that her parents will be alright after her death. It is because of her relationship with Augustus that Hazel manages to realize that she is not a ‘grenade’. Even though he dies at the end of the novel, she does not regret falling in love with him and would not trade their time for anything.
Augustus Waters – Hazel’s love interest. Augustus is a seventeen-year-old boy who, at the beginning of the novel, is at the support group to support his friend, Issac. Midway through the novel, Augustus discovers that his cancer has returned and that he is terminal.
In direct opposition to Hazel’s view on her short life, Augustus wishes to make the biggest impact that he can during his time on earth. He spends his life cloaked in metaphor, such as how he puts cigarettes in his mouth but does not light them. He thinks that the only way to make one’s life count is to do something glorious, like saving lives or winning military battles.
When Augustus’s cancer comes back, he immediately goes from his fun-loving, enthusiastic self to a depressed shell. He feels that he didn’t have time to make any kind of lasting impact on earth, despite Hazel’s insistence that he helped her. After Augustus dies, Hazel finds a letter where he admitted that her her idea of living quietly may have been enough.
John Green Biography
John Green was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on August 24, 1977. Green’s family often moved when he was a child, first living in Michigan than Alabama and Florida. Green attended Kenyon College in Ohio and graduated with a degree in English and Religious studies in 2000.
After graduating, Green worked for a short time as a student Chaplin at a children’s hospital in Columbus, Ohio. He enrolled at the University of Chicago Divinity School although he never actually attended. He originally intended to become a priest but his time working at the hospital inspired him to become a writer instead.
Next, Green moved to Chicago where he began working as a publishing assistant for the book review journal, Booklist. It was while working at the journal that he began writing his first book. “Looking For Alaska” was published in 2005. The book was well received and made the ALA’s Top Ten Books for Young Adults list that year and later, the New York Times Bestseller List.
The following year, Green published his second novel, “An Abundance of Katherines” while was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Also in 2006, he marries Sarah Urist and the two went on to have two children together.
Green has written and published four more novels, including the successful “Paper Towns” in 2008 and “The Fault in Our Stars” in 2012. Green has developed a notable online presence and has created many online platforms designed to help teens and young adults. His project Crash Course, is a short form educational series designed to educate high school students and he was one of the creators for VidCon, an annual online video conference that hosts Youtube stars as well as more small-time online celebrities.
In 2007, Green created the Project For Awesome an annual Youtube project where users are encouraged to create videos promoting charities and non-profit organizations. In the year 2012 alone, the project raised almost $500,000 for charity, and in 2015 they raised over 1 million.
Green also has a hand in producing some of the films made from his books. He served as the executive producer for the movie version of his book “Paper Towns” and is currently working on a movie about AFC Wimbledon, a soccer team. Currently, Green lives in Indianapolis with his wife, Sarah and their two children and their dog, Willy.