Why do we read? I would argue that we read for two main reasons a lot of the time. 1.
We read for entertainment. 2.
We read to obtain information.
The truly great books in this world help us to do both. And certainly I have to admit that The Fault in Our Stars
was a very well written book. It was both entertaining and full of information (on both.
The book follows Hazel Green, a survivor of thyroid cancer, as she struggles through daily life. As a result of cancer she has to breathe with the aide of an oxygen tank and has in many ways given up on life. As she says in the first few pages: "Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying. (Cancer is also a side effect of dying. Almost everything is, really.)"
And then Hazel meets Augustus and we as readers are led on a journey of discovery as they both attempt to fulfil dreams, fall in love and discuss death and life issues. It may sound like a normal angst-ridden teenage novel with a focus on two cancer patients but it's not. I personally dislike the average teenage novels because they lack depth and substance. This on the other hand is a fast, fun, intelligent read that is both touching and humorous. The Fault in Our Stars
is as such a novel of both high literary and emotional merit.
I cannot explain this novel to you unless you read it. It is one which has to be experienced to be properly understood. However I feel that I have to address one point about it that in particular stood out to me.
Many people have labelled this as a story about cancer. At first it even seemed to have a slightly nihilistic edge with its focus on death. But what I think the story was really about even if I don't agree with some of its connotations and ideas was the idea of life. As Hazel wishes to understand what goes on with the characters in her favourite book after the story ends so too the question is raised about what does happen after the story ends? How do people truly live? Why do story characters live on for us after the pages end? And I think that in many ways the idea was raised that life is about leaving behind a legacy no matter how long or short it is. A legacy which touches other people.
This book was very good and even though it was three hundred pages it was also a fast read that can be raced through in two or so hours. I highly recommend this book for both its strong, intelligent writing and its moving plot. I feel this is a YA novel that adults can also read and not in any way find overly lacking.