I knew I would be in for a tearjerker when I picked up The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. But beyond the parts that made me cry, I was really impressed with how this story about a romance between two teenagers with cancer was not a Lifetime movie, but smart story-telling.
Hazel lived through a miracle that has bought her time, but hasn’t removed any threat of cancer. She has to tote around an oxygen tank, and can’t walk far without feeling breathless. She is an avid reader who is too smart for her own good and who can fill up a whole afternoon with a marathon of senseless reality television. But no amount of reading can prepare a girl for her first love, for that aching attraction. And Hazel is not ready to let somebody fall in love with her and hurt them when she dies and leaves him alone. She doesn’t want to handle that, and barely can, when she meets Augustus Waters.
Augustus is the typical too cool teenage kid, except that he has given up one leg to orthopedic cancer. He plays violent video games, reads science fiction, and answers everything with a smart remark that maybe only someone with cancer can get away with. But he is sweet to the people that matter to him in an unsentimental way. He makes grand gestures unassumingly and is someone that you fall in love with even if you think it’s a bad idea.
This book had me laughing and crying. Hazel stands out with her quick wit. Augustus reminds us that even though their situations seem bleak, funny things can still happen. I enjoyed how even if the language made the two seem older, no amount of sophisticated language could hide the reactions of a spurned hormonal teenager. This wasn’t a long read, but it was a good one. It was emotional and youthful, and a lot better than a Lifetime movie.