(YA Book Club is the brainchild of writer/blogger Tracey Neithercott.
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From Goodreads – Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now. Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
Yay for a contemporary Book Club selection! Contemporary YA is where my heart’s at, so I couldn’t be happier to discuss John Green’s work. I’ll do my best to keep this post spoiler-free…
First of all, I’m not a huge fan of “cancer books.” I’ve read my fair share, but I don’t love it when authors use illness as a plot device. That said, I found The Fault in our Stars to be incredibly well done–equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking. This is not *just* a cancer book.
John Green’s style is so distinct–witty and insightful, with perfectly timed punchlines and just the right amount of emotion. He possesses the ideal narrative voice to tell a story which could have easily been bogged down by sadness and grief. During many of the moments I was overwhelmed by the wretchedness of Hazel and Augustus’s situation, one of them would spout something totally off the wall and hysterical and I’d feel a huge wash of welcome relief.
Hazel Grace was a darling protagonist. Her observations about life and love and death were strikingly YA and incredibly profound. At one point she says about Augustus: I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once… Simple and beautiful and perfect. I would have happily remained in her head for another three-hundred pages. And Augustus… I never thought I’d be attracted to a video-game-obsessed boy with one leg, but yeah… Gus was pretty much a stud. To view him through Hazel’s adoring eyes was a treat. The two of them made one of the most naturally compatible couples I’ve read in YA.
While we’re on the subject of amazing TFIOS characters, I have to say: Isaac was freaking awesome. Quite possibly my favorite character of the story. That’s all I’ll say, though, because I believe he should be experienced under a totally fresh, unbiased perspective. Oh, and I also have to give a shout-out to both Hazel and Augustus’s parents. They were incredible–refreshingly involved, anxious, loving, normal moms and dads. Three cheers for fantastic fictional adults!
My one gripe with this book was Peter Van Houten. While I got him and his attitude and the reasons that he was the way he was, I didn’t particularly like him. His scenes made what was already a sad book almost unbearably depressing. Every time he appeared on the page, I found myself wishing for a witty and/or romantic Hazel/Augustus interaction instead of a rambling monologue from self-centered and borderline crazy Van Houten. Maybe that’s just me though… I am a romance girl, after all. 🙂
TFIOS doesn’t take the place of Looking for Alaska as my most beloved John Green novel (maybe because Alaska was my first? Maybe because it’s one of the few books to ever make me laugh out loud? Maybe because Miles was just SO uniquely awesome?), but it was still a wonderful read. Though I didn’t cry (admittedly, I’m not a crier) and I’m not sure I’d put it on a list of my very favorite books, I enjoyed it immensely and I’d definitely recommend it. I mean, it’s John Green… he’s yet to write a book that disappoints.
Have you read The Fault in our Stars? What did you think?