Despite the tumor-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.
First published: 2012
I knew John Green as one half of the vlogbrothers before I knew him as a novelist, and I thought of him as a somewhat goofy but passionate and really intelligent guy who makes great Youtube videos, both silly and serious.
And then I read The Fault in Our Stars and was completely blown away.
I’d heard and read many wonderful things about this novel and I was really curious to find out what kind of writer this man I knew as a vlogger and self-proclaimed nerd would be, so I ordered the book and I read it. As it turns out, John Green is an extraordinary author.
When reading the blurb on the back of the book I didn’t think this novel had the potential to become my new favourite book, but when I started reading I quickly fell in love. For someone who couldn’t be less like a sixteen-year-old teenage girl suffering from terminal cancer, John (I’m not going to call him “Green”, that just feels weird) does an amazing job writing one. In fact, I don’t think it could have been done better if attempted. Hazel is witty, smart and philosophical. She’s angry at the world for dealing her a crappy hand in life, but she’s also angry because that’s just what being a teenager is like.
The best thing about Hazel, however, and about the entire book, is that the cancer does not define her. Yes, she’s affected by it — she has to walk around with a cannula to help her breathe all the time because her lungs don’t work properly — but it is not who she is. She’s hilarious, and I recognised myself in her so strongly in the following passage, even though, at first glance, it seems entirely cancer related:
“[…]She knelt down next to the bed and unscrewed me from my large, rectangular oxygen concentrator, which I called Philip, because it just kind of looked like a Philip.”
The thing about this book is that it doesn’t have a miraculously original plot, it’s the characters who make this novel so great. I started to care deeply for Hazel and Augustus and I got sucked into the story in a way that doesn’t happen to me that often. The way John writes his story is remarkable — it’s simple and funny but at the same time it’s deep and philosophical, and more sad than anything I’ve ever read.
Because, people, I can tell you this much: This book is either going to make you cry, or it’s going to make you want to cry.
Even though this book is “officially” a Young Adult novel, I’m recommending it to anyone who likes a beautiful story.
Yes, it’s sad, but it’s also really, really wonderful.