The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Review by Graham Read
If you feel like an emotional roller coaster of a read this summer, try The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It’s heart wrenching, insightful and emotionally complimentary to the ‘young adult’ audience to which it is apparently targeted. To prepare you for the literary equivalent of repeatedly discovering all ice cream is free, then finding out there’s none left for you, be warned; the main character is not just a teenage girl. The main character is a teenage girl with terminal cancer. It’s not a book of beautiful smelling flowers, unicorns and rainbows that leaves you smiling for days, but a book that plays with your emotions like a jealous older brother playing with his sister’s dolls with a pair of dressmaker’s shears. Now you know, you can climb aboard, strap yourself in and go.
To give some context to the novel, the author John Green is not attempting to write a guide to dealing with thyroid cancer, or any kind of aggressive disease for that matter. He is clear in stating the work is entirely fictional, although it can be assumed that the protagonist may have been inspired by Esther Earl; a friend that suffered from cancer. This may all seem too deep and consuming for a summer read, not something you’d want to delve into while sat on a beach abroad, or cowering inside on a rainy day, but the resounding humanity and sense of positivity present throughout prevents it from being depressing.
Although it may feature cancer, teenagers and death, it is also extremely witty, playful and smart, with relationships that are perfectly crafted, characters that are long lost friends (or at least American pen-pals you’ve regrettably lost contact with) and twists that keep your nose smelling the spine to the very last word.