Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green (2012, Dutton)

Recommended for ages 14+.
The Fault in Our Stars follows two teenage cancer patients, Hazel and Guy, who meet at a cancer support group and fall in love.
Hazel is a 16 year-old living with cancer. A “miracle drug” helps stave it off, but her lungs are slowly turning against her. She needs an oxygen tank to breathe and she is hospitalized when too much fluid collects in her lungs. Concerned that her daughter is depressed, Hazel’s mother sends her to a cancer support group, which seems more depressing than actually living with cancer. One night at the group, she meets 17 year-old Guy (short for Augustus), who’s lost a leg to bone cancer but has been fine since the amputation. They are immediately drawn to one another, and share sarcastic cancer humor and a love of books. Guy introduces her to science fiction novels based on his favorite video game, and she introduces Guy to her favorite novel, An Imperial Affliction, by reclusive author Peter Van Houten. It’s a cancer story whose abrupt ending leaves Hazel constantly speculating on the characters’ post-novel lives.
When Hazel’s lungs worsen, Guy calls in a “wish” and takes her on a trip to Amsterdam to meet Van Houten. While in Amsterdam, they grow closer but learn that they face a difficult time ahead.
John Green gives readers a compelling read, creating characters who could be the kids we see in school hallways. Dealing with cancer gives them a sarcastic edge – they find morbid humor in everything, including death and amputation. It is their coping mechanism, and it never comes across as shocking, harsh, or tasteless. The reader may find his or herself laughing along with Guy, Hazel, and their friends. They’re kids dealing with the incomprehensible, and yet they are still kids. They love video games, books, music, and friendship. The relationships are what comes across as the most powerful part of the book.
The Fault in Our Stars was a New York Times #1 Bestseller (January 2012).
John Green is a YA author and YouTube vlogger (video blogger). His website offers links to information about his books, author events, and his YouTube vlog.

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