Monday, February 27, 2012

Review for The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  Dutton, 2012.

Hazel Grace Lancaster has stage IV thyroid cancer with a satellite colony in her lungs; she has already survived one encounter with death.  She’s managing to stay alive with the help of phalanxifor, an experimental drug, and oxygen tanks.  Seventeen-year-old Augustus Waters, a former high school basketball standout, has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma; he has had one of his legs amputated above the knee but is now in remission.  The pair meets at Support Group, which occurs every Wednesday in the basement of an Episcopal Church in Indianapolis.  Gus is immediately drawn to Hazel, much to her surprise.  She decides to hang out with him, and the two become great friends.  He wants much more, but Hazel doesn’t want to get involved in that way.  The relationship grows, endures the loss of mutual friends, and involves a trip to Amsterdam.  Unfortunately, the pair has very little time to savor their blossoming relationship before they have to confront death.

I cannot say enough good things about The Fault in Our Stars.  It ranks up there with one of the best young adult books I have ever read!  The fact that it deals with a difficult subject made it extremely hard to read.  I was on an emotional roller coaster from the beginning to the end of the story!

I fell in love with the characters in this book.  Hazel has been through so much and still has to endure lugging around an oxygen tank and pain in her lungs that won’t go away.  She says “the pain was always there, pulling me inside myself, demanding to be felt”.  Yet, Hazel keeps persevering and fighting for her right to be a “normal teenager”.  Augustus is just a great guy; he seems perfect to me in every way.  He is sensitive, caring, smart, funny, and, on top of all that, hot!  Both Hazel and Gus are extremely cynical and stoic—they stare defiantly at death and laugh as it taunts them.  Even when he should be worrying about himself, Gus is thinking about Hazel.  When Hazel finally lets herself fall for Gus, their romance is bittersweet because they aren’t allowed enough time to enjoy it.  Hazel and Gus’s parents are wonderful couples—understanding and compassionate; I could feel the deep love they had for their sick children.
John Green certainly did his research for this book!  I learned a lot about cancer and Amsterdam, two subjects which couldn’t be further from each other!  The descriptions of Amsterdam were both striking and beautiful; I almost felt I was there.  The cancer information was written into the plot in a subtle way; it didn’t come across as encyclopedic or preachy.

The plot of another book is woven through the story.  I even tried to locate the book and the author; I am sure I am not the only person who has been curious enough to do this!  I also have to confess that I did not cry at the end of the book.  I had prepared myself for something bad to happen, but I was surprised by the chain of events.  However, if you plan to read this book, have some Kleenex handy!   You have been warned!!

The Fault in Our Stars is a star in John Green’s crown!  I highly recommend it for high school and public libraries!