The Fault in Our Stars (2012) is a teen novel written by bestselling author John Green. Our narrator, Hazel, is a seventeen-year-old young woman coping with terminal thyroid cancer. At heart, Hazel is a reader, philosopher, and introspective person, wise beyond her limited years. But not unrealistically so (in her parents’ words, she can also act “very teenagery”). Through a church-based Cancer Support Group, which Hazel’s mother makes her attend (although Hazel finds them to be rather trite and cheesy) Hazel unexpectedly meets her match: the precocious, clever and irresistibly sexy amputee and fellow cancer survivor, Augustus Waters. But as Hazel feels she is a “grenade,” with reference to her terminal illness, she’s reluctant to take on a new friend, or engage in any kind of serious relationship, for fear of hurting yet another person when her time of death should come.
This may sound like a depressing novel, but amazingly, it isn’t. In fact, it is one of the funniest, warmest and addictive novels I’ve read. That’s not to say it’s without heartbreaking moments. Like most fellow readers, I did cry. But mostly, I was charmed by the main characters: who they were, their thoughtfulness and unique approaches to life and death; and their struggles for meaning – or acceptance of a lack thereof – while the rest of the world comforts itself with tired proverbs.
John Green is a poet with a brilliant mind. His simple yet masterful prose contains no clichés. And while Hazel can sometimes be flippant, saucy and downright blasphemous, she has one of the most honest approaches to cancer and mortality I’ve ever considered. I’ve never read a book quite like this, and am not sure what to compare it with. But it resonated with me. Another side story in this unforgettable novel, which I cannot fail to mention, is the mystery of the reclusive author of Hazel’s favorite novel. She and Augustus embark on an unlikely overseas adventure to Amsterdam to meet this author, a surprising encounter that had me on the edge of my seat.
Read this novel. The Fault in Our Stars is a triumphant, witty, irreverent and thought-provoking book worth your time. Yes, you may cry. But you won’t regret it!