The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Hazel has known she is terminal since she was diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at age 12. But then a drug that worked on only a small percentage of the population actually worked on her and her tumors shrunk. At age 16, she’s still not healthy: her lungs need to be drained regularly and she has to cart around an oxygen tank. She also doesn’t attend high school, having gotten her GED. Hazel spends her days watching trashy TV and reading books, forced out of the house only to go to a support group for teens with cancer. It’s there that she meets Augustus Waters, a boy whose leg was lost to cancer. The two form a bond almost immediately, but Hazel doesn’t want to get close to anyone who could be hurt by her death. However, Augustus is not the type of person to be ignored easily and Hazel may just have a lot more life to lead than she ever imagined.
Green manages to write a book with characters who have cancer that is not a “cancer book.” It bears absolutely no resemblance to those teary paperbacks filled with maudlin sentimentality. Instead it is a purely John Green book, filled with witty remarks, complex characters, and a vast intelligence. Both Hazel and Augustus are characters who are breathtakingly rendered, whole people, who just happen to come fully to life when together.
Green’s writing is incredible here. His phrasing is beautiful and inventive, creating new imagery as he builds this amazing romance and human story. One of my favorite sentences in the book comes on page 25, “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” Throughout the book, there are profound moments of insight, things that give pause, make you think, and create beauty from the ordinary.
Intensely personal, vibrantly romantic, and wildly successful, this book may just be the best that John Green has written. Get this into the hands of teens and adults, perhaps with a tissue or two. It is simply incredible. Appropriate for ages 15-18.
Reviewed from library copy.