Hazel Grace Lancaster received her diagnosis (thyroid cancer) and her prognosis (terminal) on the same day, when she was thirteen years old. (“Like: Congratulations! You’re a woman! Now die.”) Her entire adolescence has been shaped by chronic illness, and although, thanks to experimental treatment, she’s reached the age of sixteen, falling in love now seems… well, heartless, if not pointless. Won’t a boyfriend just be someone else who gets hurt when she dies?
But she meets fast-talking Augustus Waters at a support group, and he is flirtatious, hot, and willing to read her favorite novel of all time just because she loves it. In fact, he’s willing to use his “cancer wish”—one of the “perks” of mortal illness—to arrange a trip to Amsterdam to meet Peter Van Houten, the novel’s famously reclusive author. A private interview, the author and his two fans, to ask him why the novel ends mid-sentence, and, more importantly, what happened next? But the world, it turns out, “is not a wish-granting machine,” and nothing, from their encounter with Van Houten onwards, turns out the way they expect.
Compassionate, compulsively readable, and geeky in the best sense, this tearjerker young adult romance will likely sweep the best-of-2012 lists. Combining gallows humor with Venn diagram humor, it was also surprisingly funny, considering how many times I cried (three).
All of John Green’s novels feature extremely well-read teenagers; this one references hamartia, Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Zeno’s Tortoise Paradox, V for Vendetta, and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, among other things. And it will be enjoyed by the same sorts of teens, who are right now fangirling (and fanguying) it on Tumblr, as well as analyzing the text for anagrams.
Check the WRL catalog for The Fault in Our Stars.