The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green: Much More than “Okay”

20 May


That simple word holds so much meaning for Hazel and Augustus, the teenage protagonists in The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.

(Click the picture to request this book.)

Hazel, a teenage girl living with terminal cancer, reluctantly attends a support group at a local church for kids with the disease to appease her mother. Since her illness keeps her out of high school, the support group offers an opportunity to socialize.

But Hazel doesn’t want to make friends, because of her condition. She compares herself to a grenade about to go off. She doesn’t want to hurt too many people when she dies, which is likely to happen sooner rather than later.

Things change when Augustus (aka Gus) joins the support group.

Their friendship grows and ultimately develops into romance. They engage in lively discussions and passionate disagreements. They bond over books, including Hazel’s favorite, “An Imperial Affliction”. Hazel considers the author of that book, Peter Van Houten, her third best friend after her parents.

Gus uses his “Genie Foundation” wish for a trip to Amsterdam so he and Hazel can meet the reclusive Peter Van Houten. Gus surprises Hazel with this news via an adorably literal orange-themed picnic, a nod to the Netherlands’ national color.

This book has some laugh-out-loud moments, but also considers deeper questions about the meaning of life and dying. Hazel wants to live out her life quietly while Gus wants to be remembered once he’s gone. They discuss the awfulness of cancer, and why the disease takes some but not others.

I enjoyed the hyper-literate dialogue between Hazel and Gus. Green writes them as wise beyond their years, but the well-placed “likes” and “umms” show they’re still teenagers.

This book is in the Young Adult genre, but adults will enjoy it as well. Good storytelling is ageless, in my opinion. I am still thinking about this book days after finishing, which is a testament to Green’s talent.

In this video John Green talks about writing and the inspiration for The Fault in Our Stars, as well as autographing (by hand) the entire 150,000 copy first printing of the book. Wow!

If you’re into star-crossed romances or smartly written fiction, definitely check out this book.

Also, a movie adaptation of the book is in the works, so read it before the cinematic release! I believe that the book is always better than my movie. What do you think?

John Green has also written Looking for AlaskaPaper TownsWill Grayson, Will Grayson; and An Abundance of Katherines, all available at the library to borrow. I read and enjoyed Looking for Alaska a few years ago, which is very different thematically than The Fault In Our Stars.

Green has a major online presence through his website and Twitter. He also posts video blogs (vlogs) to YouTube, in which his brother Hank co-stars.

I’d like to close out this post by sharing the book’s jacket copy, which I think is absolutely excellent and made me fall in love with this book, and with Hazel and Gus.

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Okay? Okay.

Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

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