The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Published in 2012, The Fault In Our Stars (TFiOS) has to be one of the biggest success of the year. I found out about this book on tumblr and twitter but I couldn’t find it anywhere here in France. As I wanted to read the original version and not the translated one, I took the opportunity to buy it when I was in London this summer. Before starting reading it, I looked up on internet to find a few reviews. Time Magazine called it “damn near genius,” and Entertainment Weekly described it as “Luminous” which made me even more excited about reading it. The book is so fascinating that I couldn’t put it down and spent 4 hours locked in my room to finish it.
16-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster, diagnosed 3 years ago with thyroid cancer with metastasis on her lungs is forced by her parents to attend a support group for teenagers affected by cancer. One of her friends, Isaac (who’s lost one of his eye due to cancer) happens to be best friends with an athlete called Augustus (we might also call him Gus) Waters who’s lost his right leg. Hazel and Gus meet at the support group and both become inseparable quickly. Hazel talks about that favourite book of hers called An Imperial Affliction written by Peter Van Houten and Gus decides to read it too. He becomes obsessed with that book and they can spend hours talking about it. The particularity of this book is that it has no ending, it stops right in the middle of a sentence. Hazel and Gus both want to know what happens to the characters that they both have affection for. Hazel has written tons of letters to Peter but he doesn’t reply. One of her biggest wish is to fly to Amsterdam to meet him and have all the answers to her questions. Gus who has saved his wish from the charity The Genies offers to take her there. But with her illness it’s quite hard to travel. After talking to her doctors and her parents they finally agree to let her go to Holland with Gus, only if her mum comes along. At this point of the novel, Hazel has clearly realised that she’s in love with Gus. Once in Amsterdam they spend a nice evening together at a fancy restaurant. On the next morning they go to Peter’s house but they are clearly disappointed by his behaviour. He’s an alcoholic and his assistant Lidewij set up the meeting without his full consent. He’s drunk, mean and rude. They leave and go to Anne Frank’s house where they finally kiss. After this trip Gus reveals that his cancer has returned and that he might not survive. Hazel is heartbroken. I might as well tell you the end of the book but if you haven’t read it yet, you should. Gus dies and believe me you will shed a lot of tears. The end of the book is heartbreaking and you will find yourself really moved while reading it. As the characters seem so real, thanks to Green’s style, you will find yourself (way too) attached to them.
In the end you will find yourself in the same position as Hazel and Gus when they read An Imperial Affection. What happens to Hazel? How is life without Gus? Does she move on and get another boyfriend? How is Isaac? But you won’t find any answers. TFiOS is not just a simple book about cancer, it shows how short life is and how love and friendship can help you when life gets hard.
The movie adaptation is coming out next year and will feature Shailene Woodley (Hazel Grace), Ansel Elgort (Augustus Waters), Willem Dafoe (Peter Van Houten) and Nat Wolff (Isaac).