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Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

January 27, 2012

First Line: Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.

The Short Version: Tears! But not because this is a “cancer book.”

BOTBS (Back of the Book Summary): Hazel is a 16-year-old with terminal cancer. She’s used to everything that goes along with it – the oxygen tank, the medications, the hospital visits, the support groups, and even the perks (there’s a hilarious scene at one point where she shamefacedly explains that she “wasted” her wish from the book’s version of the Make a Wish Foundation on a trip to Disneyland). But this is not your average Lurlene McDaniels cancer book. Hazel is snarky, funny, and interesting, and her fellow cancer survivor Augustus is – well, quite simply, he’s hot in the way only John Green men are. Smart, interesting, quirky, and not too perfect.

Hazel and Augustus strike up a fast relationship, based around their shared experiences and their favorite books. One of those books, An Imperial Affliction (which isn’t real, don’t bother checking!) eventually leads them to an adventure in Amsterdam and some interesting revelations about themselves.

My Thoughts: I knew going in that I was going to be blown away by this book. I had read Looking for Alaska years ago, after I found it on the teen shelves of my public library, but I hadn’t really taken the time to really get into it. Last year, in my teen literature class for my MLIS, I had got my second pass at Looking for Alaska, and really loved it. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that I was in a class full of very vocal John Green fans, but I was hooked. I immediately went and found his other books. While I didn’t love An Abundance of Katherines, I sped through Paper Towns right around the time I heard about The Fault in Our Stars. After hearing the lead-up for months (John Green is signing the entire first printing, all pre-orders will be signed, it’s his first female lead character, it’s about cancer, what will the cover look like), I wasn’t disappointed.

This is definitely my favorite John Green book. The writing is smart, funny, and so extremely honest that it makes you feel like you’re inside Hazel’s head rather than reading a book about her. I didn’t cry, but the final page shattered me as much as any book I’ve read. In fact, I’d hold it up with The Time Traveler’s Wife as one of the most emotionally true books I’ve read. Hazel feels like someone I could know, and the observations she makes about life and the universe are somehow uncomfortable and comforting at the same time.

I can’t wait to see if this is a candidate for the Printz next year…I can’t imagine much else being better.

Who Would Like It: Fans of John Green’s other books, fans of Sarah Dessen, anyone who is looking for a thinky/funny teen book.

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