Every once in awhile a book comes along that changes you. When you find that book you find yourself thinking about it well after you've finished it. You set it down regretfully while you're reading it because you don't want to put it down. Once it is finished you are sad that it is over. The Fault in Our Stars was one of these books for me.
For a brief synopsis: The narrator is Hazel, a sixteen-year-old girl who has dealt with cancer all her life. Her form of cancer, once it was eradicated from her body, left her with fluid in her lungs and the fear that she could get it all again. She meets a boy, Augustus Waters, who is another cancer patient. His cancer left him with an amputated leg. An unlikely and, seemingly, doomed romance ensues between the two.
I loved the symbolism in this book. It's something you don't see very much in popular literature these days. People are up for instant gratification and no longer like to delve into the deeper meaning of what they read.
John Green said he wanted to create a story that showed a less glamorous look at the life of cancer. Throughout the story Hazel demeans this when someone from her support group dies and their Facebook wall lights up with posts about how wonderful, brave, and perfect that person was when, in reality, these people never knew the real person. Being a victim of cancer or a cancer survivor or a cancer patient, in and of itself, is enough to raise you to sainthood. This is one of the ideals Hazel remains constant about and I think it's because Green is trying to tell us that it is ok to humanize the dead, the cancer patient, and the victim. Celebrate that they were human and they lived a life that wasn't altogether perfect but they made the most of it.
Hazel is very grim at first. She goes around thinking she's a walking time bomb. I loved her voice through Green's writing. She is a smart, intelligible and reliable narrator. There are moments of great insight and others of entertaining humor that all make Green's novel entertaining and valuable to any library.
Augustus is a strong hero. I was uncomfortable when his illness started making him into a whiny, gloomy child, but Green explained that he did that on purpose. He wanted to show that death is not a pretty thing. Cancer is not pretty.
I cannot gush on enough about this book. It has humor, romance, history, symbolism, allusion, great dialogue, awesome writing, and a fine attention to detail. You can tell the author has worked hard to create a story that is both entertaining and affective. I highly recommend it to anyone, but I also recommend that you have a tissue or two handy for the ending.