I’m not a “bandwagon” type of girl. People fawn over the latest award-winning movie or song and I’m always leery of what makes it “so great.” It’s not until I fully experience something that I can climb on board and agree with the consensus.
In the past weeks there have been many “best of” lists posted about YA books. Every reader, writer and blogger had their own opinion about what truly rocked the YA market in 2012. I read many of the lists. Some of the choices I agreed with – some I wholeheartedly did NOT. But the one book that showed up over and over was John Green‘s THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (TFIOS).
I held off on reading this book for a long time. It’s not because I don’t like Mr. Green’s work. I’ve read PAPER TOWNS and AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES and loved them both. The bitter pill I had to swallow with TFIOS was the subject matter – cancer. With not going into too much detail, I’ll just say cancer has rocked my family pretty hard with both older and younger (very young) family members being afflicted. When you watch cancer work its menacing hand in real life, it’s VERY hard to read about it.
Putting all those feelings aside, I caved on a recent Friday night, and downloaded TFIOS and was instantly entranced.
First, I need to say with every John Green book I am mesmerized by his ability to capture a character’s voice completely. And especially in TFIOS, he nailed Hazel’s POV from the first page. I loved how he shared her medical plight, but didn’t dwell on her illness. He showed her as a real teenage girl, working through her issues, while trying to have a normal life.
At its heart, TFIOS is about the relationship between Hazel and Augustus Waters, who’s also a cancer survivor. While Green did not entirely brush their afflictions aside, he illustrated both Hazel’s and Augustus’ struggles with their attempts to be regular teenagers. Hazel’s obsession with a book inched the novel forward and helped to push the story to its climax.
I’ll confess, I laughed several times during the cancer survivor meetings. In another writer’s hands, these scenes would have been depressing, but Mr. Green’s light and humorous touch made it all seem plausible. The scene where Augustus talked his blind friend through a violent, combat video game had me howling (I know it sounds strange – but when you read it – you’ll get it).
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS had an inevitable ending and that’s to be expected. Any other conclusion would have seemed wrong. But while the story followed two characters with cancer – this was not a novel about cancer – but about two young people struggling with the meaning of life and what kind of mark they would leave behind.
RATING: Absolutely, positively, undeniably WORTH the read