The Fault in Our Stars : book club discussion questions

The Fault in our Stars cover**Please be aware that book discussion questions may contain spoilers**

Synopsis:
New York Times bestselling author John Green presents a star-crossed love story that begins when Hazel meets Augustus in a group for teen cancer survivors. The book’s beginning, a sweet romantic storyline, draws the reader into deeper reflection on what defines a well-lived life. The author also plays with the relationship between how we tell stories and how we assess our own value as people.

Discussion Questions:

1. How do the core values of the characters change over the arc of the book?

2. We see most of the book from Hazel’s viewpoint, and many of the characters keep information from her. Is this justified?

3. What do the cigarettes mean?  No, I mean, what does each act of choosing that moment to put a cigarette in his mouth mean? Did you get the relationship with The Catcher in the Rye?

4. Did you get the thing about the water?  Not just the drowning thing, the whole water metaphor? Are there any other metaphors which you kind of caught the edges of, that you’d like to map out with the other members of your reading group?

5. Is the final line made less powerful by the fact that in Australia, you are legally constrained to say “I will.” or do we know enough about American culture, and use dual vows enough, to get it, regardless.

6. Do you agree with the author (both within and outside the book) that he has no idea what happens to the characters after the book ends, and that even if he did, his interpretation should have no particular weight over that of any other reader?

7. The Fault in Our Stars was written and marketed as a teen novel, but has had massive crossover appeal. Many other elements of teen culture are now turning up in movies, television series, and popular culture. Do you agree with comic book writer Alan Moore that this shows our culture is infantilising itself, or do you have another interpretation?

8. Where does John Green seem to go out of his way to break a conventional trope of genre fiction? Does this always work?

9. John Green’s books seem to work to often hit similar situations and themes. Is this a  formula? Does this detract from the story?

Helpful links: