Hazel has cancer. Tethered to an oxygen tank that keeps the tumors at bay, she lives a miserable life. She is forced to attend her weekly cancer support groups, but it all seems worth it when she meets Augustus Waters, a victim of cancer himself but on remission. He shows interest and after attempting to push him away, knowing she’ll only be hurting another person once she’d gone, she gives in and embraces her feelings anyway. Being with him forces her to re-examine everything she thought she knew. Her outcome is almost predetermined from the first chapter, but surprisingly enough the story isn’t about her illness. Sure, her own impending cancer and death is an issue but there are things far greater than herself.
I am wary of cancer books. They usually end in the same way with either the main character dying after having fought a hard battle, or overcoming it and fully recovering (for the time being). This was something else entirely.
Though it seems like these book reviews are always so positive, like I’m trying to sell the books. And that isn’t the case, it just happened to be a great book.
Augustus and Hazel are memorable characters, fully developed, real, and hilarious. After setting it down, I couldn’t help but compare the beginning to the last few pages. The book was nothing of what I was expecting, but didn’t fall short of my expectations of its author. The themes and symbolism were powerful and resonated strongly with the readers. It was well paced and emotionally packed, written as a novel of character rather than plot; the characters moved the story forward. Green’s writing shines in what is said to be his best book yet.
Now the cons. at times there were long winded speeches that didn’t seem to end. Though they were heartfelt and sincere, they didn’t seem realistic. During a trip to Amsterdam they met people that seemed larger than life, almost difficult to believe. I did anyway, but was still taken aback by the sudden trip to Amsterdam in general.
There is a lot of undeserved prejudice against young adult literature. It is a wide genre and has a reputation of falling short of one’s expectations. This isn’t necessarily true. Sure, let me be the first to say that finding a great YA novel that stays with you long after you put it down isn’t the easiest of things. A reader needs to know the genre, subgenre, and its decent authors.
John Green is an A list YA author, one of the best. His bestsellers and of course many accolades are well deserved. By reading his books, that much is obvious. This book and author is especially recommended for anyone who isn’t familiar with YA but has an interest in it. Nothing is for sure, but movies rights are currently being optioned.