Amid the endless number of projects, papers and exams that accumulated during the week, I amazingly found myself with a bit of downtime, so I decided to re-read a favorite book of mine: John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars.” Named after a Shakespeare quote, it tells the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 16-year-old living with thyroid cancer. While attending a support group, she meets Augustus Waters, a fellow teenager afflicted with osteosarcoma. The two bond over “V for Vendetta” and a mutual love for a fictionalized novel “An Imperial Affliction.”
As the couple begins to grow closer, Augustus, or “Gus”, confesses that he wants to use his Genie Wish – a fabricated spoof of the Make-A-Wish foundation – to fly with Hazel to Amsterdam so she will be able to meet the author of “An Imperial Affliction.” Hazel, realizing that she is a “time bomb waiting to set off,” wants to distance herself from Gus in fear of the pain she will cause him when she inevitably dies. However, after she recovers from a life-threatening bout of pneumonia, she agrees to go on the trip with Augustus. While the two are in Amsterdam, they drink champagne at a five-star restaurant, meet Hazel’s favorite author, Peter van Houten, and visit the Anne Frank House. Everything is going smoothly until suddenly things take a change for the worse.
While I won’t spoil the rest of the plot, I will say that this is a wonderful, bittersweet, perfect novel. Green’s use of imagery, especially when describing Amsterdam and the cuisine at the restaurant, is breathtaking. You can practically see the flower petals dusting the streets of Amsterdam and taste the crisp bubbles of champagne. Green also utilizes thoughtful, poignant quotes that will stick with the reader for a long time. One of my favorite quotes occurs when Hazel and Gus are on the plane to Amsterdam. While Gus is reading to Hazel, she gently nods off, and thinks, “I fell in love the way you fall asleep – slowly, and then all at once.” The ending of the novel had me sobbing, rolling around the floor of my room and immediately handing the book to my best friend, saying “Read this. You will cry. It will become your favorite book.”
In short, this novel is a must-read. The character development is superb, and the story will stay with you for a long time. If you don’t mind having your heart ripped out of your chest and trampled, I would highly encourage reading this book. Through the course of the novel, Hazel states, “Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” This is how I feel about “The Fault in Our Stars.” In my opinion, it is nothing short of exceptional.