Sunday, 30 June 2013

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

"Ours was an epic love story, and I won't be able to get more than a sentence into it without disappearing into a puddle of tears". 

I am a massive fan of the Youtuber Tyler Oakley and in one of his videos he mentioned this new John Green novel. He said that it had made him laugh and cry as well as opening his eyes to life; after hearing his recommendation I just had to read it and I am so glad that I did because it was a complete breath of fresh air. 

The plot follows Hazel, a cancer patient, who falls in love with Augustus Waters and their mutual friend, Isaac who loses both his eyes due to cancer. Hazel suffers from cancer of the thyroid which has has spread to her lungs leading her to need oxygen apparatus at all times whilst Augustus has only one leg. They meet through a cancer support group and quickly bond, the only thing stopping them from moving quicker is that Hazel feels that she will soon die and leave Augustus alone.

Hazel and Augustus find a common interest in her favourite book, An Imperial Affliction; however, they are both plagued by the same questions that its unresolved ending brings. An Imperial Affliction finishes halfway through a sentence which implies that the girl writing it has died but the lack of resolution leads Augustus to use his wish from the Genies to go and visit the author, Peter Van Houten, in order to find some answers to the great unanswered issues. The Genies (a fictional equivalent of the 'Make a Wish' foundation) fund Hazel and Augustus' trip to Amsterdam where they are able to meet  Van Houten as well as appreciate the romantic aspects of the city with its blossom everywhere.

The majority of the novel is written from a positive point of view which is refreshing for a novel of this genre. A prime example of this is when Isaac loses his eyes, we are able to see his obvious resentment and despair  but this is cleverly contrasted with the jokes which Augustus and Hazel make of it in order to make him feel better. All is not well though and as can be expected from a novel featuring cancer, one of the characters dies which was heartbreaking. I don't know why but I found reading this much more upsetting than watching 'My Sister's Keeper' and cried like a baby until the end. As a whole, the novel felt like an emotional roller-coaster with moment of pure joy being contrasted with despair, but I guess that this mirrors life with cancer.

John Green - the author
As with any good book, this raised so many questions in my mind and not only about life and death but about the legacy that we leave when we die. One of the characters states that for every living person there are fourteen dead ones and so  if we all remembered fourteen people then everyone would be remembered - unfortunately we are never going to be able to remember everyone who has died but I do hope that I am able to leave a legacy.

It is no surprise to me that 'The Fault in our Stars' rapidly became a bestseller and I would not hesitate in recommending it to those who have not read it. I now plan to look for more John Green novels in the hope that they will be as good as this one. Since reading it, I have researched into the novel and much to my delight I discovered that a film script is currently being written; although I never feel that films truly do books justice, I am still looking forward to its release in the (hopefully) near future.

Please comment and let me know whether you enjoyed this novel as much as I did!