The aptly title The Fault in Our Stars introduces us to the wise beyond her years Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 16-year old stage IV thyroid cancer survivor with a terminal diagnosis. Hazel has little planned out for her remaining years beyond re-reading her favorite novel and re-runs of America’s Next Top Model. That is, until a chance meeting with Augustus Waters. Gus, a fellow “cancer kid” in remission, draws Hazel out with a confident, slightly nerdy but fully endearing charm that will draw you in from the very beginning.
Together they share books (she recommends the obscure An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten while he recommends a slightly less “literary” novel based on his favorite video game). The two soon become inseparable, navigating the waters of first love and eventually embarking on a simultaneously disastrous and wonderful trip to Amsterdam courtesy of Augustus’ “wish” to meet Van Houten, who promises to answer Hazel’s lingering unanswered questions about the book’s abrupt end.
This is a novel of opposing realities – the romance of falling for someone new and the reality of life with a terminal diagnosis. It’s as sweet and emotional as it is raw. Though technically a YA title, John Green’s writing is witty, smart, and honest – the characters are incredibly believable and engaging for teens and adults alike. Read with a box of tissues nearby. And definitely plan on reading before the movie comes out next summer.