Genre: Fiction/Young Adult/Contemporary/Romance
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.
“The Fault In Our Stars” released at the end of December in the UK to a bit of a kerfuffle – all pre-orders were supposed to be signed, but Amazon UK ignored the large number of pre-orders received and left it until the last minute to order all their required copies. As a result, instead of receiving the pre-signed copies, they received and sent out a rushed print to cover their requested numbers.
For the thousands of fans waiting for a signed copy, who received a blank one, this was disappointing stuff. I received an unsigned one and ended up buying a signed replacement from The Book Depository, who happily kept customers up to date on their inventory of signed stock. They really showed Amazon how good customer service should be done.
But all this kerfuffle didn’t stop me reading and enjoying the book. It’s a curious mix – a light, comedic story about a serious situation. One of the cover quotes mentions it jumping from comedy to tragedy, which is a fair description – it does it seamlessly, though, moving from light to dark beautifully.
If you're not a fan of 'cancer books', don't be turned off - while cancer is a big focus, it's all kept at light-hearted as possible, and John Green's signature style makes it all feel so real and so important. The kids are wise and funny, and I think that's part of the reason his books are so popular. He doesn't talk down to kids, instead, his kids talk 'up' - they say and think the things we wish we could put into words.
Looking for Alaska is still my favourite of John Green's books, and it's the one I would recommend to new readers - but if you've ever read his stuff, The Fault in Our Stars will not let you down. Set some time aside to read it -- you can go through it in an evening if you have the time, but god forbid anyone interrupts you, it knocks you straight out of the story and makes it difficult to get back into it. The characters will stay with you, and it'll keep tugging at your heart-strings long after you've closed the book.