A phrase that is repeated continuously throughout the novel is that “the world is not a wish-granting factory.” The things that human beings want to come true often do not, and reality can be completely different from one’s fantasies. A lot of examples of this are evident throughout the novel. Monica, the girlfriend of Isaac, breaks up with him just before his remaining eye is removed. Regardless of all the waiting and his hopes of having a great future with her, he never hears from her again. After Augustus was diagnosed with cancer, he began realizing his biggest fear — that he will never make a mark in the world. Hazel is aware that her lungs will never heal, and that her death is inevitable.
The theme of the insensitivity of the universe is summed up by Augustus’s story about his middle-school science teacher, Mr. Martinez. During their flight back from Amsterdam, Augustus tells Hazel that, at some point in time, he thought of living on a cloud. According to him, the cloud would be an inflatable moonwalk machine. Nevertheless, he learned from Mr. Martinez that he could never survive at that altitude. This is because, in the clouds, there is no oxygen, the temperature is thirty below zero, and the wind blows at one hundred and fifty miles per hour. To Augustus, his teacher specialized in the “murder of dreams”.
The insensitivity of the world underlies much of the novel’s subjects. After the death of Augustus, Hazel remembers a comment that her father had earlier made, “the universe just wants to be noticed.” She reverses this comment by saying that what we want is the universe to notice us. As she puts it, the big problem is “the depraved meaninglessness of these things”. In this case, Hazel suggests that some things that happen to people, such as developing cancer, happen randomly, neither with any malicious intentions nor with any purpose. Even though we want the universe to notice us, it is not aware. The novel’s title speaks to this idea. It is obtained from “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar,” by Shakespeare, where Cassius says “Men at some times are masters of their fates: / The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves”. In this case, the words “stars” is used to refer to fate, and Hazel applies these lines to her situation. She, however, concludes the opposite — that the fault for their dying from cancer is a doing of fate, but not their doing.