Review Blog

Sep 24 2013

The fault in our stars by John Green

cover image

Penguin, 2012. ISBN 978 0143567592.
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Cancer, Relationships. With a miracle drug prolonging her life a little longer, Hazel is under no illusions that she has a limited time to live. She goes along to support group for cancer teens as a balm to her frantic over protective parents, who think she has not accepted her fate, and there she meets Augustus, who after having one leg amputated, is a survivor of cancer.
Over the next few months, Augustus and Hazel develop a fractious relationship, eventually admitting that they have fallen in love.
Throughout their story, Hazel refers constantly to a book she holds dear, An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten, one which speaks to her about what she is feeling about her condition and imminent death. She often refers to this book, quoting slabs of it, using it as a reference and guide, and writing to the author who lives in Amsterdam. Her one aim before she dies is to meet this man, but as he does not respond to her enquiries, Augustus takes up the cause and finally breaks the impasse, the two going to The Netherlands to meet him. She wants to find out what happened to the family in his book to better help her mother cope with her death.
Green presents the non sufferers with accuracy, their irritable comments, their glib reassurances, and above all, their inability to let Hazel and Augustus be themselves. All through we hear of the wider community of cancer sufferers, their treatments, survival rates and their families.
Although death stalks the book, it is also very funny, with Green lampooning the well wishers and do gooders, and the two main characters employing black humour to ease the tension.
Fran Knight

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