I was a little reluctant to read this book because it sounded like a disease-of-the-week movie with a J.D. Salinger type of character thrown in to give the book a twist. I was pleasantly surprised and ended up thoroughly enjoying The Fault In Our Stars. While at its most basic level the book is what I described, it never presents stereotypical characters or trite solutions to their problems.
Hazel Grace, the novel’s narrator, is a sixteen year old cancer patient. She meets Augustus Waters, a handsome boy about her age who was once a star basketball player before losing his leg to cancer. He comes off initially as something of a James Dean, tortured rebel type, but Green quickly develops him into a believable and unique character. One of my favorite touches is how Augustus puts cigarettes into his mouth but never lights them. Hazel is horrified when she first sees him put one in his mouth, but he tells her that “It’s a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.” Augustus and Hazel’s relationship becomes deeper when Augustus reads Hazel’s favorite book, An Imperial Affliction. This is apparently the most important novel ever written, at least for the two of them, and their obsession with its cryptic ending and the whereabouts of Peter Van Houten, the book’s reclusive author, set in motion much of The Fault In Our Stars’ plot.
While I enjoyed two other John Green novels, Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns, The Fault In Our Stars is by far the best of the three. It maintains the unique and quirky characters from the other two novels while also being a rare case of an author taking on more significant subject matter without becoming heavy handed. I can’t recommend this book enough.