The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green
High School Dutton 321 pp.
1/12 978-0-525-47881-2 $17.99 g
I suppose this is a cancer book, but as its inimitable heroine Hazel would say, “It’s not a cancer book, because cancer books suck.” Evoking yet transcending such teen-illness classics as Paige Dixon’s May I Cross Your Golden River? (rev. 2/76) and Alice Bach’s Waiting for Johnny Miracle, John Green’s fourth solo novel, and first to be narrated by a girl, is a lot of things: acerbic comedy, sexy romance, and a lightly played, extended meditation on the big questions about life and death. Hazel is controlling her stage four cancer “with the assistance of drizzled oxygen and daily Phalanxifor” — she has time, but no one knows how much. Augustus Waters, handsome and dashing, lost a leg to osteosarcoma but now seems okay. Their quickly developing (terminal illness giving new meaning to the question, “why wait?”) romance is as intellectual as it is physical and emotional, and Green’s fans will recognize and enjoy the heady badinage between the two. They will also appreciate the presence of sidekick Isaac, soon to be blind from eye cancer but a generous sharer of friendship as well as of the blackest of jokes. Hazel, the most multi-dimensional yet of John Green Girls, may not be able to change the course of her stars, but she navigates their heartbreaking directives with humor, honesty, and — while she would probably deny it — grace.
From the March/April 2012 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.