[This book is part of our Reviews of the Top 100 in Teen fiction] The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (who has several books in the Top 100) ranks number 4 on the NPR Top 100 of best teen fiction and I can see why. It’s an emotional, heart-breaking tale of two teens battling cancer.
Hazel Grace meets Augustus Waters at a Cancer Kids Support Group. Both are living with cancer, or trying to live as it turns out. And these two fall in love and in doing so, experience life deeper than many adults do. They’re funny in a sarcastic way and their outlook on life rings true, for instance their wry notice of ‘cancer perks’, special stuff they get to do just because they have cancer.
There are many realistic characters in the book, like Augustus’ friend Isaac (also a ‘cancer kid’) and the parents of both main characters. I did not care for the Peter van Houten character, a writer Augustus and Hazel visit in Holland because his book has touched them both deeply. He was over-the-top mean and even though there was an explanation for it and it fit the theme of the book (‘We all want to leave a mark, but the marks humans leave are too often scares’), I felt it was too much.
It all sounds like a really depressing plot for a book and to be honest, I had to sort of motivate myself to read it. But I’m glad I did. Even though cancer is a theme in the book, this book isn’t about cancer. It’s about love and life and dying and it tackles these themes in a touching way.