Why have I not read John Green before, Universe? Why? I, Becca, the lover of young adult fiction who postively raced through The Hunger Games trilogy, had never before read the genius that is John Green.
This is my first taster and I think you can tell by my opening sentence that I’m already a fan. The Fault In Our Stars is not fantasy, though the entire work is fiction as is the miracle drug our heroine is kept alive on, and also involves a LOT of hospital/cancer talk which normally makes me hide behind a pillow feeling faint.
I do not read books about reality often, choosing a dragon fight over a tumour battle, as I suffer from extreme squeamishness and blood phobia. What is fortunate for John Green is that his writing prowess is such that I was determined to persevere despite feeling woozy when hospitals and blood tests and feeding tubes were mentioned.
The story is told through the eyes of Hazel, a sixteen year old girl living in Indiana with incurable Cancer. She lives with her parents, a father continually on the brink of tears and a mother who is always within earshot. Hazel has survived three years beyond expected thanks to a miracle, and entirely fictional, drug, though there is no chance of her beating the cancer which will inevitably kill her.
Hazel is forced to go to a group that meets in a local church basement of fellow cancer teens, which is where she meets Augustus Waters, a boy all teenage girls should get to meet. He is handsome, athletic, honest and true to how he feels. An inevitable love story ensues.
I am happy to admit that I was in an almost constant state of weeping for about a third of the book. I cry quite easily but this, this book is tragic. Not in the ‘oh look at that outfit it’s SO TRAGIC’. In the original, Shakespearean context of the word, it is a tragedy involving love, life, death and human nature.
Like any good tragedy it also invokes humour, with some especially dry one liners. It is also, as it should be, thought provoking with some beautifully phrased words of wisdom, I think page 260 was my favourite.
JK Rowling is often referred to as being an extraordinary writer of teenagers, she just gets them. As a teenager I read the Harry Potter books at roughly the ages that Harry was in the book, and I honestly could not agree with the above statement more. However as a twenty six year old I feel like John Green should get the same accolade, as though writing about a set of teenagers I have never encountered (those with cancer) I feel like he managed to get the teenage voice to shout above the big C.
I loved Hazel and Augustus, their parents and friends. Each character was well rounded through the eyes of Hazel, whose life is so out of the ordinary yet she manages to cope with vivacity and an overwhelming need to feel normal. Her teenage tantrums hampered by her cannula and need to breathe. Her love life hampered by Cancer. Hazel is a beautiful girl and one of my favourite characters of late. She is the reason I read this book in less than six hours.
This is an extraordinary piece of writing that all should read. Green has profound thoughts in his head and manages to put them into an engaging and truly tragic story. I am looking forward to reading the rest of John Green’s library.