Published by Dutton
Date Published: January 10, 2012
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.After turning the last page of The Fault in Our Stars, I couldn't justify moving away from the spot where I had just spent close to eight hours (I'm a slow reader) reading. As I sat there, I thought back over the words I had just read. Rereading it as best I could in my mind. I mentally paraphrased it at best. It was moving, heartbreaking, hilarious, emotionally-straining, but most importantly, it made me FEEL. "That's the thing about pain . . . it demands to be felt."
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.
There's something about a fictional story that can make it's readers feel. Feel emotion, feel pain, feel like the fragmentations of a fictional, metaphorical grenade still cut deep within one's very literal heart. To feel like one of the many that were wounded in the main character's battle. This story will certainly be on my mind for quite some time. I am still in a state of bereavement and heartbreak.
Not since reading Looking For Alaska last January have I felt this sense of emotion following a book. John has a way of pulling it out of me and--I'm sure--many other readers.
Again with the great characters. Hazel and Augustus were so well-written. Which goes without saying when referring to John's characters. The one defining difference about this novel compared to his earlier work is that it was actually narrated by Hazel. I can honestly say that he writes really well from the perspective of a 16-year old girl. I did have a hard time getting into her mindset though because I listened to John read the first two chapters a while back and couldn't get his voice out of my head. Which isn't a complaint at all.
Hazel looks at her situation as inevitable death, but not so pessimistically. She doesn't want to be looked down on because she has cancer. She wants to be treated like any other person, though she knows that that will never happen in the real world. When she meets Augustus for the first time, all the sees is her own flaws. A hot guy is staring at her from across a circle of cancerous kids and she her only thoughts are on her own appearance. That sounds really conceited. She's not though. If you were being stared at by a hot guy, wouldn't you too wonder why and think you must have something on your face? I know I would if a hot girl was staring at me.
Augustus is hot, obviously. And not just hot in a "we're both diagnosed with cancer, so out of my options, he's the best" sort of way. He's legitimately hot. But in the best ways possible. He's a total nerd. He plays video games a lot and even reads the companion books to a certain military video game. When Hazel suggests he read her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, she doubts he'll even be slightly interested by comparison to his other interests. But he loves it and it sets the two of them off on a fun journey of self-exploration and what happens to characters after a book ends.
"I decided a while ago not to deny myself the simpler pleasures of existence." Reading is one of my "pleasures of existence". I can just as easily say recognizing beauty is as well and for that reason I must say that I simply adored this book. The Fault in Our Stars is simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking. You're going to want to curl up in a ball after you read this one.
This is one book I will be recommending to everyone for a very long time. An instant classic.