Staff Pick — Shannon: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

My favorite book of 2012 was easily The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, DB 74112. I am primarily a print reader and I bought it when it came out, then listened to it when it became available on BARD, then went back to my print copy to look for a specific quote after listening to it and ended up reading it again. That’s three times in a period of six months I read this book! You know I’m a busy reader, I don’t have time to re-read many books, but these characters and this story sucked me in.

The Fault in Our Stars is a book about two snarky cancer patients who meet and fall in love at a cancer support group, and go on an adventure to Amsterdam to hunt down author Peter Van Houten and find out how his book An Imperial Affliction ends and what happens to the characters after the story is over.

Van Houten’s book also happens to be a book about cancer, but Hazel (our female lead) explains why it isn’t really a cancer book because as Hazel explains about An Imperial Affliction, “But it is not a cancer book, because cancer books suck. Like, in cancer books, the cancer person starts a charity that raises money to fight cancer, right? And this commitment to charity reminds the cancer person of the essential goodness of humanity and makes him / her feel loved and encouraged because s/he will leave a cancer curing legacy. But in AIA, Anna decides that being a person with cancer who starts a cancer charity is a bit narcissistic, so she starts a charity called The Anna Foundation for People with Cancer Who Want to Cure Cholera.”(38) In The Fault in Our Stars, author John Green put a lot of thought into giving us real characters with strong personalities. Shortly after Augustus (the male protagonist) and Hazel meet, he asks her what’s her story. She starts to tell him her diagnosis. He replies, “Don’t tell me you’re one of those people who becomes their disease. I know so many people like that. It’s disheartening. Like, cancer is in the growth business, right? The taking-people-over business. But surely you haven’t let it succeed prematurely.” (27) Later in the book, they are discussing the trope of the cancer patient, “Right, but really, I mean aside from us obviously, cancer kids are not statistically more likely to be awesome or compassionate or perseverant or whatever.” (110)

This book could have easily been just another mushy, over-sentimental story, but it’s not. The book also discusses how those left behind heal– or how you hope they will heal– and choosing love. Augustus is describing his love of Hazel to Van Houten and he says, “I love her. I am so lucky to love her, Van Houten. You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.” (194)

This book has received positive reviews in such publications as: Booklist, Entertainment Weekly, Kirkus, New York Times Book Review, NPR, USA Today, Washington Post and others.

This is another book where the author’s personal experience plays a role in the story. John Green knows what he’s writing about when he’s talking about the cancer ward in a hospital. Before becoming a writer, he worked as a chaplain in a hospital children’s oncology ward. His foreword is about a young woman he met there and a foundation in her honor.

The story of Gus and Hazel is definitely a love story I recommend. It has fully drawn characters that you want to love, people you want to root for, snarky humor, and tears. Hazel uses these words to describe her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, “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. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.” (28) I have that weird evangelical zeal about this book but it’s taken me six months to be able to put my love for this book into words. I’m highly recommending The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

The fault in our stars DB 74112
Green, John; Rudd, Kate. Reading time: 7 hours, 16 minutes.
Read by Kate Rudd.

Human Relations
Young Adult

A miracle drug may have given sixteen-year-old cancer patient Hazel a few more years, but she is still depressed. Then Hazel meets cute Augustus during a support-group meeting and her world shifts in unexpected and inspiring ways. Some strong language. For senior high and older readers. Commercial audiobook. 2012.