Hoping for a little less suck in the world
There are a fair amount of people on the earth who have not had the pleasure of reading a John Green novel. I really and truly feel bad for them. Still, free choice being what it is, it’s fine if people choose to shuffle off this mortal coil without reading one of his books, but I am firmly of the belief that were one to choose to invest a day or so in reading a John Green novel, life would be richer and there would be, as Green might put it, a little less suck in the world.
Hazel, the central character of The Fault in Our Stars, knows all about life sucking. Diagnosed with thyroid cancer at thirteen, drugs have kept her alive for a few more years, but Hazel isn’t fooled. Her days now consist of dragging around an oxygen tank, working on college homework, rereading her favorite book and going to kids with cancer support group, all while waiting for the inevitable to happen. The support group, especially, is a chore, but one day Augustus Waters (seventeen, a touch of osteosarcoma, amputee, doing okay) appears. Graced with cutting humor and an exceptional BS-detector, Gus gives Hazel things she never thought she’d experience in a shortened life: friendship, love and the chance to finally get an answer to a question that has haunted her for years.
But this isn’t a sentimental novel of overcoming the odds. I won’t say more about it, but Green has built his reputation on writing about hard topics with a sense of humor and, most importantly, a real respect for his teenage characters. Green doesn’t deviate from the tragedy at the center of Hazel and Gus’ relationship: both are fully aware that whatever time they have now may be what they’re bound to get and both characters (and readers) feel emotionally drained by the end of the book. Yet they still joke over ‘cancer perks’ and chase teenage pursuits. The result? The Fault in Our Stars is one of the most emotionally true novels I have ever read and without a doubt one of the best books of the year. Going beyond the artificial boundaries of genre, Green has written a universal story that is certain to be a classic.