Author: John Green
Genre: Young Adult
The Fault in Our Stars was suggested to me by Chad for our group read. I haven't read any John Green before, but have seen this book in a number of best of the year lists and hence readily agreed to try it out.
The story follows 16 years old Hazel who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer at 13 and survived to this day via experimental treatments that keep her tumors from growing. Her mother forces her to join in a support group for teens with cancer where she meets Augustus, with whom she becomes friends and shares her favorite book.
It seems like a simple straightforward story, but I can see why this book will undoubtedly score some awards in the near future. First and foremost I loved the portrayals of both characters. They seemed very authentic. Their actions and characters are clearly shaped by their disease as they necessarily would have been, but at the same time they are unique and teen-like. The dialog is crisp and funny and ridiculous and I enjoyed all of it.
In high school, I had a phase where I read a bunch of books by Lurlene McDaniel which generally feature a young adult with some terrible disease. So I knew what to expect of a book in this particular genre (lots of heartstrings tugging for one) and some of those expectations held up, but the prose surprised me in a good way and several plot elements in the book broke the cliche.
The biggest problem I see with the book is its ending -- I felt at least one aspect of it seemed nonsensical and really out of character which made me a bit frustrated. But otherwise the book had a fairly conclusive ending, though not quite the one you might expect at the beginning.
All in all it was a quick and heartfelt book that is enjoyable, quirky and fun. Recommended.