After The Hunger Games and The Twilight Saga, I was left with a really awful aftertaste for the Young Adult genre. That brief interlude into the melodramatic and intellect-demeaning world of teenage fiction only made me remember why I never visited during my own young adulthood. I have been studiously avoiding The Fault In Our Stars for the better part of a year. Amazon, Audible, and Tarah made daily attempts to force this book down my throat, but that pesky Young Adult label always drove me away in the end. I finally gave in, prepared for the worst and already planning a vengeful and scathing review.
I was fully anticipating the cancer-addled equivalents of Katniss Everdeen and Edward Cullen; crude caricatures of how non-teenaged authors glorify teenage existence. What I encountered was, refreshingly, the exact opposite. Instead of a moody love story set amongst the trendy tropes of fantasy, Green expertly crafts a tragic romance startling grounded in reality.
Hazel and Augustus meet at Cancer Kids Support Group. Instantly bonding over a shared illness and a mutual sarcastic wit, the two quickly become inseparable. Being a love story centered around cancer, I’m sure you see where this is going.
The Fault in Our Stars is one of those rare novels to successfully convey genuine emotion. Certain plot twists are a bit predictable, but Green’s skills as a storyteller easily surpass any shortcomings. There has been some criticism over Green’s portrayal teenage thoughts and dialogue. At times, it does seem a bit much – consider the following excerpt:
He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.
Okay, I’ll agree that most 17-year-olds do not speak like this (with the exception of Tarah, who has always spoken with a sarcastic charm that I cannot help but envy). But, no one complains about the dumbed-down speech and behavior of the Twilight characters – so it’s perfectly okay to present this age bracket as inexcusably stupid, but when an author creates two articulate and mature teens, then people are suddenly concerned. Pfft.
The bottom line is that the Young Adult label is almost prevented me from reading this insightful and emotionally brutal novel; perhaps those responsible for such labels should reconsider the qualifications.