If you thought a novel about a sixteen-year-old girl with terminal cancer would be a major downer, you'd only be about half right. John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars" follows Hazel through her terminal cancer, complete with medications, support groups and oxygen tank. Hazel doesn't let her illness get her down any more than she has to. Green's latest novel shows us the protagonist's growth from the lonely girl staying home all day watching America's Next Top Model to the young woman powerfully in love with fellow cancer patient, the one-legged Augustus Waters.
As usual with Green's writing, the talented writer takes us from hilarious, sometimes inappropriate laughter to heartbreaking tears. Hazel is a brilliant narrator, her teenage tone is perfectly executed. She guides the reader on her own emotional roller coaster over the few months she recounts.
What's really miraculous about the novel is how we see this young lady go from living as if she'd already dead to being so full of life. It's beautiful to see her come out of her shell, to stop letting her cancer be an anchor for her. My concern is that, in true young adult tradition, she comes alive through her relationship with the absurdly handsome Augustus. While the transformation is more complex than simply living for this boy, repeated references to how handsome he is become somewhat disarming from the devoutly feminist author. The novel likely would have been just as powerful if Augustus had been average-looking. His personality is so amazing, he's such a great character, that by making him devastatingly handsome made him somewhat less powerful and real to me.
Bottom Line: Devastating and hilarious, this young adult novel surpasses just about any other young adult novel you'll read. Powerful, quirky, unusual and beautiful. Surprising and superb.