Friday, April 27, 2012

Book Review - 'The Fault in our Stars'

I always keep a list of books that I've been told I should buy for the library. All of a sudden, out of the blue, students came to me asking if I had any John Green novels. Not just one, but several students came and upon hearing that I didn't, implored me to buy some. As luck would have it, that evening on a (personal) trip to the bookstore, I saw a copy of 'The Fault in our Stars' by the much lauded John Green and picked it up.

I picked it up and fell in love.

Ok, that might be an overstatement. But it was, in my mind, a perfect little book. 'The Fault in our Stars' is a story of snarky kids with cancer. Hazel, who has terminal cancer which has been distracted (but not deterred) by a miracle medicine enjoys watching marathons of 'America's Next Top Model' and rolling her eyes at her cancer support group which takes place in the literal heart of Jesus. However, when Augustus Waters and his one leg enter the support group, Hazel gets a chance to enjoy parts of her life in a way she and her family had never anticipated. When she shares her favorite book with Augustus, he joins her in her pursuit of finding out what happened - the book ends in the middle of a sentence. This pursuit takes them around the world and back again, as they try finding out the ending of that story before they have to confront the ending of their own.

This book has everything that I look for in a book - strong characters, compelling story, believable plot lines. It also has dry wit, humour, realistic situations and some great people. Green makes me believe in these characters and does a great job in showing their divide between those with and those without cancer. However, they are, to quote Jonathan Larson, living with disease, not dying. It is this distinction that makes Hazel and Augustus - two children with old people names who will never be old - real to me.

And obviously, these characters are real to many, not just mid-thirties librarians. When I mention this book to students (having bought a copy for the library as I didn't want to donate the one I bought for me) they, or the friend they were with exclaim how much they loved the book. How they loved the characters. It works for them and they love that.

I am now reading 'An Abundance of Katherines' by Green. I like it, just not as much as 'The Fault in our Stars'. 'Looking for Alaska' has been checked out of the library by two or three people in a row and I've had no chance to get it myself. Thank you Mr. Green for these books. It's fantastic to get realistic fiction that's funny.

This is a bit of a love letter rather than a review. I will admit, I just really liked this book. It's nice, writing about something I really enjoyed. I have also recommended it for our Provincial High School reading list. It was that solid.

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