John Green is inarguably one of the most notable Young Adult authors of the new millennium. His first novel, Looking For Alaska, is a Printz Award winner and already considered a classic in the genre, being taught in many high school and college courses. His newest novel, The Fault in Our Stars, is a hilarious and heart-wrenching story of two teenagers living, not dying, of cancer.
John has earned most of his respect through the treatment of his fans, some of whom have been devoted and loyal since John began a more public interaction with his readers through YouTube in 2007. This book, a refreshing and new look on terminal illness in young adults, has been hyped over for the past six months mostly by John’s extensive fan base, more commonly known as, the “Nerdfighters.” If any new details about the book were released, the Nerdfighters were the first to hear them, and speaking as a nerdfighter myself, we were in no way disappointed when the book was finally released.
Hazel Lancaster is a sixteen-year-old cancer survivor who falls for a young man named Augustus Waters. After meeting in a support group held in “the literal heart of Jesus”, the two embark on an emotional and existential journey to discover the meaning of heroism in their short and seemingly helpless lives. Suffering is exactly what one would expect a young cancer patient to be doing, but Hazel and Augustus defeat that archetype by acting as they should: like ambitious, foolish, and adventure-hungry teenagers. After obtaining a mutual interest in the fictional work of fiction, An Imperial Affliction, Hazel and Augustus use a wish-granting organization for terminally ill children to travel to Amsterdam and interrogate the reclusive author of AIA about the questions he left open-ended after halting the book’s narrative in the middle of a sentence. It seems like the two are on a “roller coaster that only goes up,” but a shocking revelation changes everything just before the teens head back home.
The writing in this novel is outstanding. Green has a way of inserting tidbits that a reader might think are inappropriate tangents, but that end up being essential to the entire meaning of the story. He makes it known that he respects the minds of teenagers; he does not see them as vapid creatures on the brink of maturity. He knows they are capable of thinking deeply and thoughtfully about more than Justin Bieber songs. Not assuming, like so many other childrens’ authors, that kids don’t often ponder about the meaning of their existence. Green’s intelligent, witty language, slathered with dirty jokes, is the perfect combination for an out of the ordinary high-school love story. While reading The Fault in Our Stars, a different emotion springs up on every page. It will make you cry, laugh, and shake with anxiety. It will make you love and hate. Most of all, it will make you wonder yourself, if the fault is actually in the stars, or within ourselves.