Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Release Date: January 10, 2012
Format/Page Count: Kindle Edition
Publisher: Dutton Children's
Synopsis: 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. (FROM GOODREADS )
Expectation: I discovered John Green a while back, but kind of rediscovered him when I discovered Twitter. I've enjoyed his previous books and pre-ordered this one far in advance. Needless to say, I was dying with anticipation. Expectation HIGH.
Market/Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary
"You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are." ~ Augustus Waters
My favourite thing about this novel is the way 17-year old cancer survivor Augustus Waters loves the narrator, 16-year old terminally ill Hazel Grace Lancaster. Believe me, it was hard for me to come up with a favourite aspect of this novel. There were so many admirable qualities to THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. Once John Green gets the reader into the Literal Heart of Jesus, there's no turning back. He's got you for the duration.
This is such an exceptionally intelligent story, too. Hazel is dying. She has stage IV cancer. It is in a cancer support group where she meets the handsome and illustrious Augustus Waters. Gus is one of those wonderful characters I just can't get enough of...he's got a brain, a sense of humour and a unique outlook on the world. As the reader, I waited for him to appear in a scene. I know he's going to say something brilliant and I'm going to want to quote it later. He loves life, though he knows its ugliest secrets. He is able to see beauty even when his life has been less than beautiful. But most of all, his total and all-consuming love for Hazel...Green just does this RIGHT. Augustus's adoration of Hazel is exquisite.
At one point in their early acquaintance, Hazel asks Gus, "Why are you looking at me like that?" Any normal 17-year old boy would shy away, or say something really stupid and non-committal. They would blush to a red resembling fire. But our Augustus Waters, our philosopher in the making, says, "Because you're beautiful. I enjoy looking at beautiful people, and I decided a while ago not to deny myself the simpler pleasures of existence."
The story is, on the surface, a story of cancer...how it fights to survive while it kills its host. But a cancer story shows nothing of humanity. Cancer in and of itself does not a story make. It's actually quite a blase thing in the grand scheme of things. Under the surface, this is a love story and a human story. And a clever story.
Hazel has a favourite book. Don't we all. I don't know about you, but when I see a book referenced within a book I love...I kind of get excited. I think, 'I wonder why the author chose this book to reference...I must read it!' I search it out to read it. Well, in the case of Hazel's favourite book...it does not exist outside the parameters of The Fault in Our Stars. AN IMPERIAL AFFLICTION was written by the character Peter Van Houten. The thing about AIA, though, is that it ends mid-sentence. Hazel would do anything to find out what happens to the characters in the book AFTER the book ends. But after sending many letters to Mr. Van Houten, and getting no reply, she has to keep wondering.
The almost perfect Augustus Waters (he is minus a leg, after all, thanks to osteosarcoma...but he is otherwise "on a roller coaster that only goes up") reads Hazel's fav. book. He then emails the author and receives a reply through the author's assistant. So begins the journey. The cancer-free Augustus uses his saved-up Cancer Perk wish to take Hazel to the reclusive Van Houten. He will stop at nothing to give the object of his affection whatever it is she wants.
Every character in this book is exquisitely written. The hardest characters to write in YA, in my humble opinion, are the parents. They are either ghosts or in the way. In THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, Green captures a perfect harmony with the two main characters and their parents. From Hazel's tearful father and hovering mother...to Augustus's parents and their houseful of ENCOURAGEMENTS. He just does it right.
I won't go into any more of the story, because I would only be giving it away. Just know that Hazel and Augustus fall in love--Hazel has terminal cancer--they share a love for a book that takes them on a journey--and they talk about life and death in beautiful ways.
'I liked being a person. I wanted to keep at it.' - Hazel was a bit of a philosopher herself. Just a girl who wanted to live a little longer.
'...we were together in some invisible and tenuous third space that could only be visited on the phone.' - I never thought of this third space until Green spoke of it...and I knew exactly what he meant.
'I never saw the swing set again.' - Green has a great way of transferring the nostalgic feelings of the characters onto the reader.
"Grief does not change you Hazel. It reveals you." - Green also has a way of rescuing his less than likeable characters by having them say beautiful things at the right times.
'He fumbled toward Gus's hand and found only his thigh. "I'm taken," Gus said.' - I loved the comedic bits in this novel. This passage was between Gus and his friend Isaac, who lost both eyes to cancer.
Don't miss this one. It's a must read. I'm sure it'll make it to many re-read lists. It's definitely on mine.
Expectation exceeded. I love this book. It caught every emotion. And it was smart...it will make you think. Be on the lookout for Augustus Waters metaphors!