Archive | April, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars and other novels by John Green (Penguin Books)

21 Apr

Fault in Our StarsHazel is only 17 but dying of lung cancer. She watches lots of America’s Next Top Model and attends a cancer support group for teenagers. Half-blind Isaac brings his mate, Augustus, along to the meeting before his only sighted eye is removed. Augustus had recovered from osteosarcoma cancer so seems to be in a good place but doesn’t stop staring at Hazel. In anyone but such a hot guy it would be creepy. They become friends and then even closer but it is difficult to see a future with Hazel’s condition. Her favourite book is An Imperial Affliction but it has no ending. She has futilely contacted the author to discover what happens to the characters but Augustus uses his cancer-sufferer ‘wish’ to take her to Amsterdam to meet him. The story then takes unexpected and poignant turns.

Author, John Green, enjoys exploring metaphors here and particularly also in his 2009 novel Paper Towns. He also uses many references to other texts, such as the writings of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Francois Rabelais and T.S. Eliot.

His novels seem to feature male main characters who are usually skinny and desperate for a girlfriend and sex. The Fault in Our Stars is different because an intelligent female, Hazel, is the protagonist. In the other novels, Green’s young men often obsess after attractive, strong, unpredictable girls who seem to be seeking death, particularly gorgeous Alaska in Looking for Alaska. Alaska, like Green’s early important female characters, is wildly original, outrageous and able to keep boys, especially Miles who is new to boarding school, slathering. She is a match for Margo Roth Spiegelman in the superbly plotted, keep-you-guessing Paper Towns who keeps Q (Quentin) chasing her from one paper town to another when she disappears.

Green’s writing, considering its weighty issues, is still humorous and he writes stories which keep his crossover audience of older teens and adults thinking and wondering. It is impossible to stop at reading only one of his books.

The Fault in Our Stars (Penguin Books) 2012

Will Grayson, Will Grayson (Text) 2010 With David Levithan

Paper Towns (Harper Collins) 2009

An Abundance of Katherines (Penguin Books) 2006

Looking for Alaska (Harper Collins) 2005

by Joy Lawn, Children’s Literature Consultant