The Fault in Our Stars; John Green; Dutton; 2012
Book summary (taken from Amazon UK: 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.
Literature for Lads review:
John Green and his band of 'nerdfighters' are something of a Internet phenomenon. Colonising websites, blogs and twitter with the #DFTBA acronym (Google it if you don't know what it means)they are quite a force of nature. The fact that Green's books have not yet been published in the UK, yet they still have an army of fans is proof of the power of Greens online presence. In fact it was through the constant excited tweeting from some of his UK fans that 'The Fault in Our Stars' came to my attention. Librarian colleagues, unable to believe I hadn't read any of John Green's previous novels told me, "I had to read this book".
I now echo what those colleagues told me. You have to read this book. This is a wonderfully written, heart-wrenchingly sad, yet at times gloriously funny book. When writing about such an emotive subject as Cancer in teenagers it would be easy to fill a book with stereotypes and cliches. However this novel is quite the opposite and Green should be commended with the approach he has taken to writing a novel on this subject.
From the first moment we meet Hazel, describing the Cancer support group her parents insist she attends, we are engaged with her. She's smart, funny, and although she's dying from Cancer, the last thing she wants is for us to feel sorry for her. It's at the support group that Hazel meets the enigmatic Augustus. Arrogant and self-assured, Augustus is in remission, is in Hazel's eyes gorgeous, and to Hazel's surprise, is interested in her.
The journey that Hazel and Augustus take from this moment on will envelope you as you watch their fledgling relationship develop into a beautiful romance. Trying desperately to do everything any other teenagers in a relationship would do, and yet at the same time coping with the pressures and demands of living with cancer is evoked wonderfully by Green.
Green does not want us to feel sorry for Hazel and Augustus, rather he wants us to see them for what they are, two teenagers experiencing love for the first time. For anyone who has suffered the effects of cancer this must be a battle they face every day - for people to see them as themselves not as someone who is fighting to stay alive.
This book is much more than a book about Cancer. It's a book about death, love, relationships and how we feel about all of these things. The characters in the book are real and we are invested in them from the 1st page. The fact that they are dealing with something which is heart-breakingly sad only makes us care about them more.