Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Fault In Our Stars

Not everyone will jump at the suggestion to read a book about terminally ill cancer patients, but I strongly encourage you do so. John Green’s most recent fiction, ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, is smartly written, funny, extremely touching and REAL. Cancer is not so much the theme of the book but the vehicle that drives the romance between two teens. Sixteen year-old Hazel is a three-year stage IV cancer survivor and, upon her doctor’s suggestion, reluctantly attends a weekly cancer support group. It is there that she meets fellow cancer survivor Augustus Waters; tall, thin, quick witted and daring enough to catch and hold her gaze from across the circle of other attendees.  Their relationship, which moves along at a brisk pace, starts with a common interest in video games and books. Augustus’ taste in literature tends to lean toward sci-fi gore and Hazel’s current affinity is a particular novel about cancer patients. But the book leaves her disappointed with an unresolved ending and wondering about outcome of the characters. So August arranges for Hazel, her mother and himself to travel to Amsterdam to meet the eccentric and reclusive author. Yes, that sounds like an unlikely scenario but Green is able to make it all seem plausible. Because John Green writes so believably about smart teens that you buy into their use of advanced vocabulary, sly humor, and ability to make the impossible happen. My guess is that Green was a smart teen who grew into a smart man who then became a smart writer. An additional incentive to read this book is that Green, a resident of Indianapolis, uses the city and its landmarks as a setting for the story. So those familiar with Indy will have a frame of visual reference as you travel with Hazel and Augustus through their story.

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