John Green's latest novel, The Fault in Our Stars, is an eloquent and unflinching exploration of the teenage experience. It is the story of Hazel Lancaster, sixteen years old and only alive thanks to a miracle drug that keeps her thyroid cancer in check. Diagnosed with depression, she is thrown into a support group for similarly afflicted young people. This is where she meets cancer-survivor Augustus Waters and the two quickly become friends, and then fall into that wonderful bittersweet world of teenage love. Their adventures take them along a rollercoaster of emotion, from trips to Amsterdam to meet Hazel's favorite author, to mock funerals, to real and unavoidable tragedy. All the while Green keeps the tone even, allowing Hazel's voice to set the pace and mood, sarcasm and wit and a sense of hope clashing with a bitter knowledge of the reality of teenage mortality.
Green has written a book that takes the reader from the heights of bliss that comes with teenage infatuation, to the harshest sadness that accompanies the too real tragedy that is teenage cancer. It is a book about life and love in the face of debilitating disease and seeming impending death, learning the lesson that while living can come with pain it also brings great joy and wonder. While marketed as a book for teens, this is a book that adults can easily and readily enjoy. Just make sure to have some tissues or a handkerchief handy when you reach the last act of the novel.
Tim @ Central