March 5, 2012

Book review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Hazel has no illusions about what's going to happen to her. She's going to die. And soon. Hanging on to borrowed time (she was supposed to die two years ago, but an experimental drug has temporarily extended her life), Hazel's simply marking time--taking college classes, going to cancer kids group sessions, watching her parents hover and trying to impact as few people as possible with her demise. The staring eyes of Augustus Waters, a new boy in her cancer support group, are a shock to her oxygen tank-hauling, fluid-filled lungs limbo. He's in remission; he's gorgeous; and, for some reason Hazel can't fathom, he's completely into her. So begins a last ditch grasp at life, a chance to cram as much living and loving into the time she has left.

John Green has never been one to condescend to the young audience for whom he writes, and The Fault in Our Stars continues this tradition. Hazel and Augustus are intelligent, thoughtful, layered characters who play well off one another. "Gus" isn't an Edward Cullen who places dying Hazel on a pedestal and spend the entire book merely adoring her. He's a three-dimensional, flawed human being who is desperate to leave a legacy that will endure. But he does, however, throw most of his energy into brightening Hazel's life, even going so far as to sacrifice his Make-a-Wish to satisfy Hazel's quest for answers from her favorite book's author. It works, though, in the context of this "seize the day" attitude they've both chosen in facing whatever few days are left to them. And after three stories told by men, it's a refreshing change of pace for Green to stretch his literary legs into a female protagonist voice this time out.