About the Book

Title: The Fault In Our Stars
Published: 2012
Swoonworthy Scale: 8

Cover Story: Like a Mothereffing ADULT!
BFF Charm: A Thousand Times Yes
Talky Talk: John Greentastic
Bonus Factor: Non-Nicholas Sparks Cancer, Keith Mars Award of Awesome Dadhood, Amsterdam, The Price of Dawn
Relationship Status: Infinite Love

Cover Story: Like a Mothereffing ADULT!

Oh, hey there, strangers in public. Did this book cover happen to catch your eye? (Perhaps because I’m totally holding it upright on this table instead keeping it glued to my lap like usual.) Are you assuming that I’m some kind of intellectual because I’m reading a book with a cool, quirky but not-trying-too-hard cover? Do you want to ask me about it but fear my superior literary knowledge? Well, I’ll tell you–it’s about a teenager with cancer. Shocking, I know, because there’s no image of footsteps on a beach or stock photos of sad people on the cover! ISN’T THAT INCREDIBLE? Also, yes, I am some kind of intellectual, thanks for asking.

The Deal:

So, as I just mentioned, this book is about a girl with cancer. But before you stop reading this review, because you already saw A Walk To Remember and even though you love Mandy Moore you really don’t need more saccharine bullshizz in your life, I would like to point out that it’s a book about a girl with cancer… written by John Green.

In other words, this is not your typical cancer book. And by that I mean, it is amazing.

So, Hazel Grace Lancaster has cancer, and she’s been living with it for a while now. It’s terminal, but she’s on a wonder drug that has bought her some time. How much time… she doesn’t know. But she DOES know a lot about what it’s like to be a cancer victim. She knows the medical terminology and the support group spiel and the ideal qualities in a nurse and how strangers will give up their seat for you and how much it will hurt her parents when she finally dies. Yep, Hazel knows a lot about dying with cancer.

But then she meets Augustus Waters, cancer survivor and devastating charmer, and suddenly, for the first time in a long time, she wants to know more about living than dying.

BFF Charm: A Thousand Times Yes

BFF Charm Heck Yes - sparklier and shinier than the original BFF Charm

Hazel Grace, I know you don’t want to form a lot of attachments because you’re dying, but I beg of you, PLEASE BE MY BESTIE. You are incredibly smart and fascinating and thoughtful, and your humor is as dry as I wish your lungs could be. You have an old soul, but I love that you’re still a teenager at heart, so we could spend the afternoon talking about books and life and Big Questions and then spend the night watching bad reality TV marathons. You are so brave, Hazel Grace, and don’t roll your eyes at me–I’m not saying that because you have cancer. You’re brave because you dare to love and be loved, and you give the universe the respect it deserves… while also calmly defying it.

I also MUST give a charm to Isaac, a dude with eye cancer in Hazel’s support group. Isaac is just plain awesome. You’ll see. (No pun intended, Isaac! Ok, maybe a little.)

Swoonworthy Scale: 8

If you’ve read any of John Green’s books, you’re already aware that the man knows how to write an endearingly imperfect boy. And because of this, you might think that you’re prepared for the charisma of Augustus Waters. Well, my friends, I must politely tell you that I DON’T THINK YOU’RE READY FOR THIS JELLY. Augustus Waters is insanely hot. Augustus Waters has a fake leg. Augustus Waters reads books based on violent video games. Augustus Waters puts cigarettes in his mouth but never lights them for metaphorical reasons. Augustus Waters is MAGIC. In fact, he’s almost too good to be true, and then you remember that he had cancer, and he lost a leg, and that sort of thing can transform a teenage boy into an introspective, intelligent, and wonderfully vibrant person.

Augustus is obvs fantastic, but what really makes this book swoonworthy is Hazel’s journey in knowing him. From the tingles of newness to the delight of discovery to the baring of souls, their relationship is both whimsically charming and intensely beautiful. And I’m probably going to use one of their conversations as a reading at my wedding. SO YEAH.

Talky Talk: John Greentastic

Like Sara Zarr and other YA greats, John Green deserves his v. own talky talk category. His books are always witty, always thoughtful and never condescending. He crafts authentic yet entertaining characters, compelling story lines and dialogue so real, you think the pages are breathing. So when I say what I’m about to say, you might not believe me. You might not think it’s possible. But, you guys, I’m pretty sure that this novel is his best writing to date. I KNOW, I know, but hear me out. See, it’s not as quirky or as funny as some of his other books, but that’s exactly why it’s so powerful. It feels like Green took risks with this book–serious, emotional risks–instead of relying on that indie cheekiness that’s made him so successful. And while there were still a few times when I felt like the quirkiness was laid on a bit thick, I was too busy being TOTALLY DESTROYED (and then resuscitated, and then destroyed) by the soaring height and raw depth he achieved with his masterful, creative, brilliant use of words.

I also want to point out that even though I totally predicted a major plot point, I didn’t guess just how affected I would be by all of the twists and turns along the way.

Bonus Factor: Non-Nicholas Sparks Cancer

An X symbol over the movie poster of Nicholas Sparks' adaptation of The Last Song

It is downright REFRESHING to read a book about cancer that isn’t schmaltzy and melodramatic and ready to be turned into a Lifetime Movie. Hazel’s battle is painful and scary and sad, but it’s also become normal for her. It’s a part of her life. And it was enlightening for me to experience not just the highs and lows of that life, but also its mundaneness.

P.S. If this book does get optioned for film, I really hope that Hazel’s breathing tubes (which she wears all of the time) will keep any pop-star-turned-actress FAR, FAR AWAY FROM IT.

Bonus Factor: Keith Mars Award of Awesome Dadhood

Keith Mars hugging his daughter, Veronica Mars

First, I have to point out that Hazel’s mom is also super, duper awesome but OMG HER DAD! HER DAAAAAAD!!! I ADORE HIM WITH ALL OF MY BEING!!! He loves Hazel so much, and he cries easily, and he’s wise, and he totally straight talks her. Here’s one of my favorite exchanges between them:

Dad still had his arm around me, and I was kinda starting to fall asleep, but I didn’t want to go to bed, and then Dad said, “You know what I believe? I remember in college I was taking this math class, this really great math class taught by this tiny old woman. She was talking about fast Fourier transforms and then she stopped midsentence and said, ‘Sometimes it seems the universe wants to be noticed.’

“That’s what I believe. I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it–or my observation of it–is temporary?”

“You are fairly smart,” I said after a while.

“You are fairly good at compliments,” he answered.

Bonus Factor: Amsterdam

The canals of Amsterdam at dusk

I won’t spoil it for you by explaining how, but through an awesomely weird, very John Green-esque twist, Amsterdam has a lovely cameo in this book. And now I want to go to there. BUT NOT BECAUSE OF DRUGS. I swear.

Bonus Factor: The Price of Dawn

A truck with an explosion behind it and a man with a gun jumping over the top

Augustus Waters’ favorite video game (and book) is The Price of Dawn, a super violent macho-fest starring Max Mayhem and his sidekicks, Manny Loco and Jasper Jacks. Obvs it’s based on real trends in video games, and obvs, it sounds RAD!

Relationship Status: Infinite Love

There’s a part in the book when Hazel talks about experiencing an infinity of love. And that’s exactly how I feel about this story. I wish I could copy and paste it here, but I don’t want to spoil it for you, so we’ll have to settle for my inferior words. But this book, OH this book. This book slayed me. This book inspired me. This book made my eyes insanely puffy for days because THE CRYING. SO. MUCH. CRYING. (Like, I’m not playing with that DNRIP tag, y’all.) But most importantly, this book filled me with a sense of awe, of wonder for the ordinary magnificence of life. And because I have an infinite love for this book, I don’t mind sharing it with others. In fact, I want to share it with as many of you as possible, so please, please go out and read this and laugh and cry (oh, THERE WILL BE TEARS) and freak out and spazz out and just FEEL IT. Feel it deeply. And then come back here so we can celebrate it together.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Dutton Books. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). The Fault In Our Stars is available now.

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Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.