The Fault In Our Stars is John Green’s latest novel, but it’s his first written in the point of view of a girl. It’s something that Green has frequently joked about (saying ‘And then I took off my bra’ when recording the audio-book is perhaps the most frequent in-joke on his Youtube channel), but it’s also been a source of worry, since in his four previous novels he’s written exclusively from the perspective of a geeky, white, adolescent American male. But those worries were completely unfounded because damn, The Fault In Our Stars is good.
One of his best yet, in fact – I have an emotional attachment to Looking For Alaska which remains my all time favourite, but it definitely comes in second. I could have read the book in one sitting and a huge part of me really wanted to, yet at the same time I didn’t want to finish it straight away, so I paced myself; and by that I mean I read it over the course of a day rather than in a few hours. There’s no way I could have read a chapter a night; right from the beginning I was attached to the main characters, I was laughing one second and fighting back tears the next, which is precisely what books should give us.
The novel is from the point of view of Hazel – a 16 year old girl who has cancer. she has had treatment which shrunk her tumours yet she is still a terminal patient, and has to use an oxygen tank as her lungs do not work as they should. When her mum forces her to join a support group, Hazel meets handsome and charming Augustus and they hit it off, extremely well, and although Hazel doesn’t want their relationship to be a romantic one (she doesn’t want Augustus to get hurt) they can’t help but falling in love. The Fault In Our Stars is more than a book about cancer. It’s about friendship and love, suffering, and wanting to make the most out of life however short or long that life may be. John Green has conjured up a story which everyone can relate to – don’t we all want to know that our life has been worth living?
One of the things I love most about John Green’s novels is that there are always particular quotes that stick with you; quotes that grab you by the heart and stay with you long after you have finished reading the book. The Fault In Our Stars is no exception. And of course, it’s an exceptionally well written book, the characters coming to life right from the start. With some lesser books you feel detached from the characters but with Hazel’s wonderful narration I could easily imagine and empathize with her life and what was happening. It can be bitter-sweet sometimes being so emotionally attached to a character – you have no control over what happens to them in the story so you can not stop bad things happening to them. However, although the end of the book had me in tears and it was heart-wrenchingly sad, there was always a profound sense of hope even in the face of death. The journey of reading The Fault In Our Stars – with its many emotional ups and downs – is one that I’ll be doing again and again.