Author: John Green
Publication Date: 10 January 2012
Copy: Paperback, purchased
My Rating: 4.5/5
Despite the tumour-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.
It took me a while to get around to reading 'The Fault In Our Stars' but I'm not too sure why as I finished it in half a day. It undoubtedly offers a new perspective on the increasingly popular YA 'sick-lit' genre. 'The Fault In Our Stars' is one of the most moving teen books I've read in a long time and I think that is largely because Green has a talent for creating remarkably convincing and most importantly real characters. That sounds pretty standard but in this story you really feel like you are on their journey; as Augustus and Hazel fall in love but also as they came to terms with their terminal cancer.
The premise sounds bleak and it is. Don't get me wrong, this is not a cheery read. But at the same time I disagree with those who've focused solely on this aspect and the ultimate fate of the protagonists. I suppose that's because while the two teens meet at a support group because of their disease, they don't really allow it to define them. While it remains throughout, a threatening force under the surface, they don't let it hold them back. The female protagonist at one point remarks, 'This cancer ruined thing suddenly seemed worth the struggle, worth the PICC lines and the ceaseless bodily betrayal of the tumours'. They knows that the cancer is there, growing inside them, but they also know that everyone's time is limited and not to let it diminish what time they have left.
I suppose where John Green gets it completely right is the way in which he uses the cancer diagnosis to comment on life in general. Fundamentally it felt for me like he was trying to emphasise that life throws up struggle and challenges. and some of these we won't ultimately defeat; but that doesn't mean we should stop fighting. Perhaps the most truthful line in the novel was 'I mustn't let I kill me before it kills me.' It's true and sometimes in those circumstances it's far easier said than carried out, but Green is surely right. In everything we do, keep going until the bitter end.
Some elements of the novel were farfetched though which was a shame. While the characters themselves, especially Augustus and Isaac, were very convincing, the trip to Amsterdam and the meeting with Hazel's favourite author just didn't really seem to fit in. I also was a bit disappointed by the ending. While it was undoubtedly the right way in which to end it, there were no twists or surprises. It just felt a little too predictable.
Overall, however, this is a fantastic story that you'll really struggle to put down at all. It's gripping, heartbreaking but thoughtful too and seems to really get to the heart of how teenagers cope and live with very serious diseases. It deserves all the praise it's had.