The Fault in Our Stars

By John Green
Published on January 10th 2012
Published by Dutton Books
Source: Borrowed
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.

To be totally honest, I wanted to not like this book.  It is uber popular and Cancer Books are pretty much designed to emotionally manipulate you and sometimes I have issues with John Green and the way the lit/YA world and the internet in general puts him up on a pedestal.  I wanted to not like it because it is full of things that I usually don't like in books anyway.  The characters don't talk like real people and all come off as sort of pretentious, and the parents are all sort of one-note caricatures, and, man, I was so opposed to the idea of liking this book.

But there I was, 85% done with the book, and I just sobbed straight through to the end.  Like, straight up ugly crying.

So, fine, John Green, you win this round.  You win!

For all the tears I shed over this book, The Fault in our Stars is joyful, a celebration.  Hazel knows that her time on this world is short, and while she can be depressed and morose and fussy about it -- and who wouldn't be -- she also still maintains a good sense of humor and never seems to get too down about her circumstances.  We meet her at a time when she's been dealing with her cancer for a long time already, and she views her situation with an often humorous, self-deprecating lens.

Meeting Gus isn't quite love at first sight, but they are drawn together immediately.  Hazel's determination to do things in her own time is awesome and not something you see all that often when it comes to relationship stories.  Gus is hilarious.  In other books, I probably would have been annoyed by him and found him pretentious, but here, I think the writing and the characters acknowledge that Gus is a little larger than life, and I can guess that his quirks are defense mechanisms because of his illness.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is the B-plot regarding Hazel, Gus, and the author of Hazel's favorite book.  I don't want to spoil too much about it, but I thought it was a very interesting, meta storyline to put in.  It makes you think a lot about authorial intent, as well as how meeting your idols doesn't always go the way you planned.  I fortunately have never had that moment of disappointment after meeting someone whose work I respect, but I know people who have, and it can be a gross feeling.  It was an interesting storyline that could have been a throw-away B-plot but instead came around to be so much more by the end.

Like I said, there are so many reasons why this book shouldn't have worked for me, but it did, because Green created characters who just draw you in to their story.  And sad.. So stupid effing sad.  I had to stop reading because I was like IT'S RAINING ON MY FACE.  And then I went and did other stuff and I was still leaking all over the place because I kept thinking about the story.

Give this one a chance, but have tissues nearby, no matter how stoic you think you may be.

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