Synopsis: Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
I often saw this book being read around campus at the time I decided to give it a try. I figured, I should see for myself if it's worthy of the hype. And now I can say, indeed it is.
The Fault in Our Stars is the first John Green book I've read so I had no idea how he writes. The story was different for me than the other books I've read with the same underlying theme - inevitable death. First, I liked Hazel's pragmatic view of life. She didn't want cancer to be her life but rather just a side effect of living. She tried to live normally as possible even if she needed to carry a small oxygen tank around in a cart because her lungs weren't strong enough to breathe on their own. I liked that aspect of the book because it's not, as the characters would call those types of books, a "cancer book." Secondly, I liked Augustus Waters a lot. He's one very likable character overall. He's light and witty - his personality fits very well with Hazel's. I enjoyed reading the book because their friendship just seemed so natural and it progressed beautifully for me. It's not so much as them trying to find consolation with each other because they're both cancer kids; it's them enjoying each other's company because they have the same perception of how they should live their life.
The only factor that caused me to rate this book a 4 out of 5 was the rather unrealistic way in which Hazel and, most importantly, Augustus articulated their thoughs. No teenager talks that way! It's not like I didn't enjoy it - I did on some level. Because I have a soft spot for guys who can speak the way Gus did (dorks are the bomb). But at the back of my mind I always felt like all their dialogues, if set in a different scenario, would otherwise sound too unrealistic. I know it's a work of fiction but I also want a way for me to be able to connect to the characters all throughout. I mean I loved the characters but at some point in the story, their dialogues were too much.
Having said that, I'd still encourage you to read this book. John Green was able to draw my emotions in. Even if I didn't always enjoy the way the characters spoke, I still felt like their story's real. The way they casually talked about death and afterlife with such acceptance and normality was heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. I laughed with them. I cried with them. Overall, it's an experience that you just have to go for.
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About the author
John Green's first novel, Looking for Alaska, won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award presented by the American Library Association. His second novel, An Abundance of Katherines, was a 2007 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His next novel, Paper Towns, is a New York Times bestseller and won the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best YA Mystery. In January 2012, his most recent novel, The Fault in Our Stars, was met with wide critical acclaim, unprecedented in Green's career. The praise included rave reviews in Time Magazine and The New York Times, on NPR, and from award-winning author Markus Zusak. The book also topped the New York Times Children's Paperback Bestseller list for several weeks. Green has also coauthored a book with David Levithan called Will Grayson, Will Grayson, published in 2010. The film rights for all his books, with the exception of Will Grayson Will Grayson, have been optioned to major Hollywood Studios.
In 2007, John and his brother Hank were the hosts of a popular internet blog, "Brotherhood 2.0," where they discussed their lives, books and current events every day for a year except for weekends and holidays. They still keep a video blog, now called "The Vlog Brothers," which can be found on the Nerdfighters website.