Booklist Reviews 2012 January #1
*Starred Review* At 16, Hazel Grace Lancaster, a three-year stage IVcancer survivor, is clinically depressed. To help her deal with this, her doctor sends her to a weekly support group where she meets Augustus Waters, a fellow cancer survivor, and the two fall in love. Both kids are preternaturally intelligent, and Hazel is fascinated with a novel about cancer called An Imperial Affliction. Most particularly, she longs to know what happened to its characters after an ambiguous ending. To find out, the enterprising Augustus makes it possible for them to travel to Amsterdam, where Imperial’s author, an expatriate American, lives. What happens when they meet him must be left to readers to discover. Suffice it to say, it is significant. Writing about kids with cancer is an invitation to sentimentality and pathosor worse, in unskilled hands, bathos. Happily, Green is able to transcend such pitfalls in his best and most ambitious novel to date. Beautifully conceived and executed, this story artfully examines the largest possible considerationslife, love, and deathwith sensitivity, intelligence, honesty, and integrity. In the process, Green shows his readers what it is like to live with cancer, sometimes no more than a breath or a heartbeat away from death. But it is life that Green spiritedly celebrates here, even while acknowledging its pain. In its every aspect, this novel is a triumph. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Green’s promotional genius is a force of nature. After announcing he would sign all 150,000 copies of this title’s first print run, it shot to the top of Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s best-seller lists six months before publication. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Gr 9 Up”It’s not fair,” complains 16-year-old Hazel from Indiana. “The world,” says Gus, her new friend from her teen support group, “is not a wish-granting factory.” Indeed, life is not fair; Hazel and Gus both have cancer, Hazel’s terminal. Despite this, she has a burning obsession: to find out what happens to the characters after the end of her favorite novel. An Imperial Affliction by Dutch author Peter Van Houten is about a girl named Anna who has cancer, and it ends in mid-sentence (presumably to indicate a life cut short), a stylistic choice that Hazel appreciates but the ambiguity drives her crazy. Did the “Dutch Tulip Man” marry Anna’s mom? What happened to Sisyphus the Hamster? Hazel asks her questions via email and Van Houten responds, claiming that he can only tell her the answers in person. When she was younger, Hazel used her wish-one granted to sick children from The Genie Foundationby going to Disney World. Gus decides to use his to take Hazel to Amsterdam to meet the author. Like most things in life, the trip doesn’t go exactly as anticipated. Van Houten is a disappointment, but Hazel, who has resisted loving Gus because she doesn’t want to be the grenade that explodes in his life when she dies, finally allows herself to love. Once again Green offers a well-developed cast of characters capable of both reflective thought and hilarious dialogue. With his trademark humor, lovable parents, and exploration of big-time challenges, The Fault in Our Stars is an achingly beautiful story about life and loss.Ragan O’Malley, Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn, NY