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The Fault in Our Stars, John Green


I have not been a fan of John Green’s work — I tried reading both “Looking for Alaska” and “An Abundance of Katherines” with no particular feelings towards either. And the fact that this book was highly lauded and acclaimed only made me reluctant to pick it up, since it so often seems that popularity does not equal quality, especially with fiction. Still, it eventually rose towards the top of my to-read list, and I spent two hours one afternoon racing through it.

Seventeen-year-old Hazel is at a cancer support group when she meets him; Augustus Waters, seventeen, and who had “a little touch of osteosarcoma a year and a half ago.” They strike up an uneasy friendship, together initially because of their friendship with Isaac, who has cancer of the eyes and is going blind. Hazel is reluctant to form relationships, calling herself a grenade and wanting to minimize the impact that will occur upon her inevitable death, but Augustus is charmingly and intelligently persistent. Hazel shares with him her favourite book, a novel about a girl with cancer, and they toy with the idea of trying to visit the author in Amsterdam to find out what happens beyond the end of the story.

Hazel and Augustus are so very likable as teenagers trying desperately to understand what it is to been teenagers with cancer. They are profound, depressed, in love with poetry and words and one another, brutally honest about the future and oblivion, all the things that people are, but crammed into a truncated life. The story is beautiful and painful and captures the things that good fiction should be and do.

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