Monday, July 9, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Despite hearing about John Green's books since his first, Looking for Alaska, won the Printz in 2005, The Fault in Our Stars is the first time I've read any of his work. This means that I don't have to wait until he finishes his next book to get to read something "new."

I missed his earlier books because most of the time when I go browsing in the YA shelves I'm looking for escape in the form of fantastic adventure, and Mr. Green writes about the modern world, the real world in all its grit and glory.

The Fault in Our Stars is not a gentle book, which, if you recognize the title from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar or the star-crossed lovers of Romeo and Juliet, you'll anticipate that this book does not end with "Happily Ever After." Hazel, the narrator, has terminal cancer, and it's a miracle she's made it to her 16th birthday. Her best friend is her mother, and she spends her time reading and rereading her favorite novel, An Imperial Affliction, about a young girl with terminal cancer.

Hazel allows herself to be forced into attending a weekly cancer support group, and it is there that she meets Augustus Waters. Augustus, despite having lost a leg to cancer, is vibrantly alive and interested in Hazel, who must weigh the risks of living. I loved reading about their relationship as it developed. Their conversations are witty, and I often found myself laughing. It was a difficult book to put down, even when I was crying my way through the last chapters.

You might also want to check out Becky of Berwyn (IL) Public Library's review, which includes further reading suggestions. I could also see Going Bovine by Libba Bray, which is a more surrealistic take on fatal illness, but with a similarly sarcastic loner for a narrator.

~Sarah, Adult Services

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