Monday, January 7, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars by: John Green

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Publisher: Dutton Books
Pages: 313
Format: Hardcover
Source: Amazon.com

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, 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.


My thoughts:

John Green came highly recommended from a lot of folks, which is how I found out about and decided to check him out. The Fault in Our Stars is his latest book, and the one I saw and read many things about, so I decided to start my John Green journey with it. When I was done with the book, my first thought was, "Thank goodness there is a YA author like this exists in the world!" Even though I've only read two books of his by now (after this one, I also finished his first novel, Looking for Alaska), I can confidently say that I love John Green. 

None of us strangers to stories where children come face-to-face with death due to illness. And most of them are based on real stories. First one that comes to my mind is a Jodi Picoult novel called My Sister's Keeper. Then there are movies like Lorenzo's Oil and Letters to God...

The Fault in Our Stars is different in the way that it doesn't focus on the people around the sick person; it tells the story of the sick instead. It's also different in the way that there isn't one sick person, as there usually is the case, and the rest is healthy people. The Fault in Our Stars is also one of the best love stories I've ever read; funny and sad and powerful all at the same time.

Hazel was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of 13. When she 14, she got better due to a miracle treatment. While reading the book, I've also found myself questioning what words like "good" and "better" really mean. So when I say she got better, I mean further from death than she was before the miracle treatment. She meets Augustus Waters at the cancer support group her mother forces her to attend. They're two individuals who are both very much aware of their situation and where it might lead. They are also teens who haven't given up on living and learning and can make fun of their sickness. The similarities and the differences in how they see the world bring them together. I don't want to give spoilers, so I'm not going to tell you what adventures they set sail to. There's no way my telling you about it can get closer to what a great job John Green has done anyway.