Thursday, April 12, 2012

20. The Fault In Our Stars

Book #20: The Fault In Our Stars
Author: John Green
Published: January 10, 2012
313 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now. 

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. 

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

John Green is flawless. He takes you in and never lets you go. He pulls at your heartstrings, makes you fall in love with all of his characters, and them clips their wings and you have no way to fly away. Yet, you love it. You laugh and cry and when you  close the book, you feel enlightened and emotional and ready to devour his next one. The first time I felt this strong of a connection with an author was with Nicholas Sparks, who broke my heart yet healed it all at the same time. Once you start, there's no turning back. 

This is Green's first book from the perspective of a girl. It's a lovely  change, even though I adore all his male characters, and I'm glad he took that risk. I know how hard it is to write from the perspective of the opposite sex, but Green nailed it. He wrote Hazel in a heartbreakingly beautiful way. She's had cancer for four years, yet her strength and humour is more present than a healthy person's. She is caring, loves to read, and knows that she's living on borrowed time and is eager not to waste it. When Augustus Waters walks into her support group, she's hit by everything about him and falls head over heels. She tries to keep her distance, knowing that she is a ticking time bomb, but Augustus always finds a way to win her over. The love story is beautiful and real, like a regular teen romance with the poignant smell of death looming over their kisses. And yet, you keep reading and you keep hoping because Green won't let you leave. And it's beautiful and haunting, and you don't want to let go.

Hazel steals the show as she fights to both live and survive. She tries to stay strong as everyone around her crumples. Her parents can't hide their fear of her dying and her friends treat her differently now that she has cancer. The only people she can truly be herself around are Augustus and Isaac because they have been though all the same hardships as her. They can laugh about cancer and joke about dying together without worrying whether it will make others sad. 

Like Looking For Alaska, Green shows every layer of the human soul, how fragile we all are and how not everyone knows it. We all have our flaws, our secrets, and it's a part of who we are even if we never share them with others. And everything we do affects those around us whether we know it or not. Green captures pain, death, life and living fluently and masterfully and reminds us that we may only have today, we may only have now, and we should do great things with the time we have. 

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” 

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