The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

12 Mar

2012, Dutton, ISBN 978-0-525-47881-2

Plot Summary: The Fault in Our Stars follows two teenaged cancer patients, Hazel and Guy, who meet at a cancer support group and fall in love.

Hazel is a 16 year-old living with cancer. A “miracle drug” helps stave it off, but her lungs are slowly turning against her. She needs an oxygen tank to breathe and she is hospitalized when too much fluid collects in her lungs. Concerned that her daughter is depressed, Hazel’s mother sends her to a cancer support group, which seems more depressing than actually living with cancer. One night at the group, she meets 17 year-old Guy (short for Augustus), who’s lost a leg to bone cancer but has been fine since the amputation. They are immediately drawn to one another, and share sarcastic cancer humor and a love of books. Guy introduces her to science fiction novels based on his favorite video game, and she introduces Guy to her favorite novel, An Imperial Affliction, by reclusive author Peter Van Houten. It’s a cancer story whose abrupt ending leaves Hazel constantly speculating on the characters’ post-novel lives.

When Hazel’s lungs worsen, Guy calls in a “wish” and takes her on a trip to Amsterdam to meet Van Houten. While in Amsterdam, they grow closer but learn that they face a difficult time ahead.

Critical Evaluation: John Green gives readers a compelling read, creating characters who could be the kids we see in school hallways. Dealing with cancer gives them a sarcastic edge – they find morbid humor in everything, including death and amputation. It is their coping mechanism, and it never comes across as shocking, harsh, or tasteless. The reader may find his or herself laughing along with Guy, Hazel, and their friends. They’re kids dealing with the incomprehensible, and yet they are still kids. They love video games, books, music, and friendship. The relationships are what comes across as the most powerful part of the book.

Reviews: NPR: “…the Fault in Our Stars may be [Green’s] best book yet.”

Time: “…damn near genius.”

Booklist: (starred review) “Green’s best and most ambitious novel to date. In its every aspect, The Fault in Our Stars is a triumph.”

Awards: New York Times #1 Bestseller, January 2012.

Reader’s Annotation: When Hazel and Guy meet at a cancer support group, they have no idea where life – no matter how long or short it may be – will take them.

Author Information: John Green is a YA author and YouTube vlogger (video blogger). His website offers links to information about his books, author events, and his YouTube vlog.

Genre: Realistic fiction. Subgenres: illness, cancer, relationships.

Booktalking Ideas: Imagine being only 16 years old and living with cancer, knowing that the medicine that you take is only holding back the inevitable. Would you be angry or sad? Would you want to live life to the fullest or hide away? Hazel’s mother is concerned that she doesn’t interact with people enough, so she enrolls her in a cancer support group that Hazel finds ridiculous. Do you think sitting around, dwelling on death, is helpful to cancer patients?

Reading Level/Interest Age: 14-18+

Challenge Issues/Defense: Cancer, disease. Defense: Kids get cancer, too. This is the book to help provide coping mechanisms for dealing with it, and possibly for teens with friends who have cancer.

Why did you include this book in the titles you selected?

I had heard such great things about John Green’s books; when I had the opportunity to read his newest book, I jumped at it.


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