They met in a cancer support group: Hazel Lancaster, a sixteen-year-old victim of thyroid cancer that has migrated to her lungs; and Augustus Waters, seventeen, in remission after bone cancer cost him one leg.
Their eyes connected across the room, and an instant spark ignites between them.
As love stories go, this one might seem unlikely, and as romantic characters, some might question these two. But from the very first page, it was impossible not to sense something special between them.
Narrated in Hazel’s first-person voice, we are privy to their intelligent and witty dialogue, with its hint of sarcasm. We learn more about them from these moments than any other back story could offer. The story is set in their home town of Indianapolis, Indiana.
Hazel’s favorite novel, which she has reread several times, is called An Imperial Affliction, by Peter Von Houten, and is narrated by a dying woman. Because the story ends mid-sentence, Hazel is obsessed with finding out the ending for the other characters. After Augustus also reads the book, the two of them develop a plan. To visit the author in Amsterdam, compliments of the Wish foundation.
What happens to the two of them in Amsterdam? Are they able to find the answers they seek? What do they do when Van Houten shows them a disappointing flaw in his character? And what unexpected truths does Van Houten later share?
In the final moments of The Fault in Our Stars, we are gripped with the reality of what will surely transpire for these individuals…and for us, since we are now invested in their destiny. From Van Houten’s book, Hazel and Augustus have gleaned this philosophy of sick kids as “side effects,” a way of accepting their situation:
“Cancer kids are essentially side effects of the relentless mutation that made the diversity of life on earth possible.”
These characters are like real people, and as such, have their good days and bad days. Sometimes their frustrations come out like an explosion, while at other times, the characters glean the necessary support from their group and their families to live each day to the fullest. I liked the characters because they are not like the superficial teenagers that are often spotlighted in YA books. For this reason, I enjoyed them and wanted to root for them. The fact that they are unusual does not make them less believable, as some have noted, but makes them likeable.
It is impossible not to feel connected to these two characters and to empathize with how their lives have taken them on a journey they would not have chosen for themselves. But without this journey, they might not have met. Was this destiny the fault of their stars? An unforgettable story that will live on past the final page. 5.0 stars.