Through the eyes of a teenage girl with cancer, John Green manages to tell a heartbreaking story of illness from a new perspective in The Fault in Our Stars.
This story is about Hazel Grace Lancaster, a teenager growing up with Stage IV thyroid cancer, whose best friend is an author she’s never met. Her character is fresh and bold, as a much-appreciated contrast to the somehow plastic personalities most teenagers with terminal diseases seem to have. One can’t help but have a kind of pitiful respect for Hazel and her lack of hope for herself.
At a Support Group for diagnosed teenagers, Hazel meets Augustus “Gus” Waters, an amputee in remission from osteosarcoma. His charm and humor make him immediately likeable, and although she is unbelievably attracted to him, Hazel tells Augustus that she is a “grenade, and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties.”
Hazel introduces Augustus to her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, and the abrupt mid-sentence ending that has been haunting her since she read it. Augustus uses his dying wish to help Hazel meet the author, Peter Van Houten. After making the trip to the Amsterdam, they discover that Van Houten is, in fact, a pathetic alcoholic. It can be assumed that Green created this jerk persona to yank the reader back to the harshness of the situation; Green never lets the reader forget that although Hazel is slowly dying, that doesn’t mean all of her dreams will come true beforehand.
Green doesn’t bother to sugarcoat the tragic reality of cancer and how it affects victims’ families. Readers feel a personal connection to the story, and even minor characters such as Hazel’s hypersensitive father and quirky mother manage to stand out. Green touches on serious issues without alienating his audience, and though there isn’t constant action going on, the reader is engrossed in Hazel’s interesting mentality and her thought-provoking conversations with Augustus, which explore the concepts of life and oblivion.
Some readers may be upset with the ending, as most desire the typical happily-ever-after resolution. But Green’s choice of conclusion was appropriate for describing the pain of having to live without someone you love. It was necessary and almost expected; nevertheless, readers should keep a box of tissues handy and brace themselves for a powerful finale.
There is a possibility that Green’s bestseller will become a movie, but nothing is set in stone just yet. The unfortunate truth is that certain movies just don’t live up to the expectations of their respective novels, so Green might prefer to keep his story within the pages. However, as his book gains popularity, there’s no doubt that his fans will start to wonder when they’ll see it in theaters. Score: 9/10
Nataly Capote / Chief Copy Editor