When John Green’s book The Fault In Our Stars hit shelves in January 2012, it was an immediate hit. His previous books and a YouTube channel shared with his brother Hank earned him a massive fan base in a relatively short amount of time.
It was not long before all I saw on Instagram or Twitter were posts about this book. I must have been living in a black hole because I had not heard of John Green or his newest novel.
That being said, my interest was certainly heightened after all of the buzz it was earning.
I first opened the pages of this book as spring 2013 began. I intended for it to be one of those books that I read a chapter of at a time as I got into bed each night, but it did not take me long to realize that I was going to throw those plans out the window.
No, this was a book I was going to read in one sitting. And then re-read. It is that good.
Let me preface this review by saying that The Fault In Our Stars is not for the faint of heart. By the time that you are done reading this novel, you will have laughed, cried, screamed, thrown it on the ground, and then repeated the process.
It’s an emotional roller coaster from start to finish.
It centers around 16-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster, a thyroid cancer survivor who has an obsession with a book called An Imperial Affliction.
Cancer has essentially robbed her of her social life, so she spends much of her time with her parents, watching America’s Next Top Model reruns, and, of course, reading and re-reading her favorite book.
Her parents, insistent that she do something other than sit around all day, encourage her to go to cancer support group meetings for kids.
At one meeting, Hazel meets Augustus Waters, a quirky boy with a crooked smile and a prosthetic leg. Augustus is in remission from bone cancer, and the two hit it off immediately. It is not long before the two cancer-stricken teenagers fall for each other.
As their relationship deepens, so does their understanding of themselves and cancer. Hazel wants so desperately for her life to be about anything but cancer.
Augustus wants to make sure Hazel’s dreams are fulfilled – especially her dream of meeting An Imperial Affliction’s author, a hermit who has holed himself away in Amsterdam.
Augustus uses his one wish from The Genies (think “Make-A-Wish”) to fly Hazel to Switzerland to meet him.
What happens next I will leave to you, the readers. Anything this point of the book onward would be considered a spoiler, and I do not have the heart to spoil this book for you.
As Hazel says when she is describing An Imperial Affliction, “Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
That is this book.
I will not say it is perfect. As wonderful as John Green makes Augustus Waters out to be, no teenage boy is that flawless or strings words together as beautifully as our crooked-smiled leading man. But really, that is my one complaint. And I cannot complain too much.
John Green’s writing is raw and tender at the same time. Those who do not have cancer will never fully understand what it is like to struggle through what Hazel or Gus endure, but Green sure can make you empathize with them.
He invites you along as two kids fall in love for the first time, and you really do root for their relationship.
Augustus says, “That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt,” and this book is kind of an envelope of that statement. It makes you feel pain, but it also makes you feel triumphant, giddy, and angry – all at once.
I am not saying this has to be your very favorite book, but for your sake, I hope you will pick it up. I hope it affects you the way it affected me: for the better.
– Heather Barnes, Contributing Writer