Review first published 02/02/12
Hazel Grace Lancaster is a teenager who was diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer when she was twelve years old. At the age of fourteen, she entered a trial of a new drug that temporarily manages her condition by shrinking the tumours within her lungs whilst spending her days attached to a portable oxygen container nicknamed “Philip”.
Now sixteen, she visits a regular support group where she meets Augustus Waters – a young man who is in remission from osteosarcoma. She considers Augustus “hot” and he is interested in her.
What follows is a journey for both Hazel and Augustus, one filled with many emotions, as they seek to find out the impact that their lives have on each other and upon the people who share theirs with them.
You know the story – you hear all the latest reviews for something. “YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK!!!”, “YOU MUST SEE THIS FILM!!!”, “YOU MUST BUY THIS AWFULLY EXPENSIVE AND ULTIMATELY USELESS GADGET!!!”… You follow the recommendations and, ultimately, you’re disappointed because you find that the experience wasn’t as good as what you thought it would be – that thing called “Hype”.
After seeing lots of reviews and vlogs and blogs about this book, I decided that I had to buy it. I am glad to say that “The Fault In Our Stars” is not a book that is afflicted with that awful condition called “Hype”. Instead, I found what may figure (touch wood) as one of my top ten reads for this year, and considering it’s only February, that’s some feat.
I have not read a John Green book before, but I can see why he’s held in such high regard as this book tells the story using accessible emotions which contradict each other within a couple of pages. You can feel sad in one sentence because of a description of how a character is feeling – which given the subject matter isn’t as much as you would think, only for a smile to creep across your face a few lines afterwards due to a joke or a remark.
The characters are intelligently written. There’s no patronising patting of heads to say that the world is nice and cuddly here. You get two lead characters who have to confront the fact that at some point, potentially all too early, they are going to die. What John Green does though is tell the truth of the situation through the cast of the cancer survivors and their loved ones. Yes, there are tears and sad parts, but there’s also anger (such as in the “Night of the Broken Statues” incident), thoughts about what legacy they’re going to leave behind, hopes, dreams and aspirations about what they want to do with their lives and, at points, some pretty dark “gallows humour”. Basically, through his writing, John Green invests enough diverse emotions in the characters that you do root for the likes of Hazel, Augustus and Isaac.
The book flows nicely has a language which is intelligent and does not patronise it’s readership (There’s concepts such as Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs being discussed in this book) and is a very comfortable and memorable read. (I started it properly on Monday evening and have just finished it earlier this evening. I was that eager to get on with it.)
This review is definitely not as good as a lot of reviews that I’ve read. (The nearest review that I can say was as difficult as this one to write was a review that I wrote last year for the film adaptation of “Never Let Me Go”). All I can say, hand on heart, is that it’s an honest review.
I’ll just come out and say it, I loved “The Fault In Our Stars” and I intend to look at some more of John Green’s work in the future.
Thank you John Green and thank you to those varied reviewers, bloggers and vloggers who recommended this book to me – both directly and indirectly.
If you want to know more about John Green and his books, go to http://johngreenbooks.com/
PS – Thank you John Green for introducing me to a new insult word. It will be used in the future.