"The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green

Book Club Discussion Questions

"The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green

"The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green has characters who ask big questions. The tale is an emotional—but uplifting—story of two young people who are trying to find themselves and determine what's important in life while battling terminal illness.

Plot Summary

Hazel Grace Lancaster, a teen with thyroid cancer, meets Augustus "Gus" Waters, a teen in remission for bone cancer, in a cancer support group. The two begin talking and discussing their experiences with their respective illnesses, forming a deep bond and romance. They visit Amsterdam to visit Peter Van Houten, an author who has written a book about a girl who battles cancer. They meet the author, who turns out to be rude and cynical. They return home, and Gus tells Hazel that his cancer has spread throughout his body.

Gus dies, and, surprisingly, Hazel sees Van Houten at the funeral. He and Gus had kept up a correspondence during which Gus insisted Van Houten attend his funeral. Hazel later learns that Gus had sent several pages he wrote about his cancer experience to Van Houten. Hazel tracks down Van Houten and has him read the pages, in which Gus talked about the importance of being happy with the choices you make in life. As the novel ends, Hazel says she is.

Discussion Questions

"The Fault in Our Stars" is a moving story about unique characters who navigate and grow through painful experiences, and it presents more than enough questions to dissect in a book club setting. Use this guide to help your book club think about some of the themes Green creates. Spoiler alert: These questions contain important details about the story. Finish the book before reading on.

  1. How do you think the first-person perspective of this novel affects characterization and plot development? In what ways would third-person narration be different?
  2. Even though "The Fault in Our Stars" deals with timeless questions, it has many markers of the year in which it was written—from social media pages to text messages and TV show references. Do you think these things will affect its ability to endure over the years or do the concrete references enhance its appeal?
  3. Did you guess that Augustus was sick?
  4. Discuss the use of symbolism and metaphors in this novel. How do the characters use symbolism intentionally and in what ways does Green drive symbolism without the characters' knowledge?
  5. On page 212, Hazel discusses Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs: "According to Maslow, I was stuck on the second level of the pyramid, unable to feel secure in my health and therefore unable to reach for love and respect and art and whatever else, which is, of course, utter horseshit: The urge to make art or contemplate philosophy does not go away when you are sick. Those urges just become transfigured by illness." Discuss this statement and whether you agree with Maslow or Hazel.
  6. In a support group, Hazel says, "There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything ... maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever ... And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that's what everyone else does." Do you worry about oblivion? Do you ignore it? Different characters in the novel have different views and coping mechanisms to deal with life and death. What are they and to which do you most relate?
  7. Reread Augustus' letter that Hazel receives via Van Houten at the end of the novel. Do you agree with Augustus? Is this a good way for the novel to end?
  8. What effect does the mingling of "normal" teenage problems (breakups, coming of age, etc.) with a terminal diagnosis create in the novel? For instance, do you think it is realistic that Isaac would care more about his breakup with Monica than his blindness?
  9. Discuss inconsistencies between this book and its film adaptation. Did these seem important to you?
  10. Rate "The Fault in Our Stars" on a scale of one to five.
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Your Citation
Miller, Erin Collazo. ""The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green." ThoughtCo, May. 24, 2021, thoughtco.com/the-fault-in-our-stars-by-john-green-361848. Miller, Erin Collazo. (2021, May 24). "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-fault-in-our-stars-by-john-green-361848 Miller, Erin Collazo. ""The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-fault-in-our-stars-by-john-green-361848 (accessed May 29, 2023).