The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green
Published January 10th 2012 by Dutton Books
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, 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.
Rating: 5 stars
This is by far the most unique YA cancer novel I've ever read (though not to say I've read very very many).
Hazel and Augustus were both such distinct, quirky, unique characters. A lot of people have complained that they don't talk like regular teens, and yeah, they would be right. I have never met any teenager that talks as intellectually or metaphorically as Augustus Waters--or describes a swing set as "pedophilic" for that matter. They are both shockingly mature for their age and everything out of their mouth sounds like a perfect, quotable, well-planned speech. So no, they're not exactly normal, everyday teenagers, but I think their individuality is really what gives the novel its spark.
Hazel is definitely a character that will stay with me for a long time. What really drew me in to her was her view on cancer patients--how they are the collateral damage of evolution--and the fact that, unlike most people, she didn't particularly care about leaving some big mark on the world after her death. Augustus, on the other hand, was just so sweet and hilarious in his love of metaphors! I honestly could not think of a more suitable couple than the two of them. They complement each other in the best way.
I also loved how John Greene incorporated the fictional novel, An Imperial Affliction (by Peter van Houten) as such a central part of the novel. In a way, the girl in the fake book mirrors Hazel. AIA is also a driving force for the plot of this novel and connecting thread for Hazel and Augusts. (Admittedly, I was terrified in the beginning that The Fault in Our Stars would have a similar ending to that of An Imperial Affliction...) Plus, it's always nice to see a character super passionate (might I say, obsessed?) with a book (so I know I'm not alone on that front!)
I wish I could think of the perfect way to describe this story, but I think Jodi Picoult summed it up best when she said that this book was "filled with staccato bursts of humor and tragedy." Usually, when I'm least expecting it, the most hilarious dialogue will suddenly pop out and make me laugh out loud. Then, in the course of just a few sentences, the author can shift the mood to one of somberness! John Greene is so talented at this, I've found, and this story of his is so written so poignantly that I got quite emotional myself.
Honestly, this book was quite an emotional roller coaster. One minute you're laughing, the next you're probably going to be on the verge of tears, because the story is undoubtedly sad, but it so poignant. I especially loved the ending, how Greene concludes with the letter. It. Brought. Me. To. Tears.
I highly highly recommend this book--absolutely beautiful! And I guarantee that the story will stay with you for a long time.