I received this book thanks to the Spanish publishing house without requesting it, so it was a nice surprise, but I wasn’t really looking forward to reading it. Then I saw the news about the film everywhere and I got more interested – I read it in two days!
The fault in our stars talks about a girl who meets a boy… but there is a problem – she is ill with cancer. Her name is Hazel and, for the moment, she is responding well to a new treatment and she has to take an oxygen tank everywhere with her because she needs it constantly. Despite these issues, her life is more or less normal, only that when you have cancer your life is not “normal”.
She meets Augustus, a boy who had cancer but now he seems to be healthy again, and they began a peculiar relationship since both now how fragile life is. Hazel tells him about her favourite book and its startling end, and how she has written to the author requesting further information about the characters, which he has never replied, so Hazel and Augustus plan to travel to Amsterdam, where the author lives, in order to ask him directly. Will two teenagers cross the ocean to make Hazel’s dream come true?
This is a beautiful story, which has its twits and its hard moments. The couple are uncommon because they are both aware of Hazel’s limitations – she is still ill although the cancer is not spreading with that treatment. They are plausible characters, I think, with their teenage eccentricities, but not daring to dream too high, just in case they don’t have the chance. I missed more interaction with other people of their age, especially in Hazel’s case, since she goes to college but the book only mentions an old friend from school who she goes shopping from time to time with, and I wondered; doesn’t she have any other friend? Is an illness a barrier for her or for the other people to make friends? That was a little sad.
On the other hand, I couldn’t stop thinking that this is more or less like any other young adult story, just with the particularity that the characters have cancer. I mean, the story is tender, the narrative style is direct and fast, it has surprises… but in the end it is similar to other YA novels if you think about it, and I was left with the feeling that The fault in our stars is far from being the “book of the year”, which was what I was told.
The fault in our stars
Dutton Books, 2012