Bookmarks Issue: 
John Green

A-The-Fault-in-Our-StarsJohn Green, a Michael L. Printz medalist, is the author of several best-selling young adult novels, including Looking for Alaska (2005), An Abundance of Katherines (2006), Paper Towns (2008), and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (2010). Along with his brother Hank, he is the founder of a YouTube channel called Vlogbrothers as well as the social media Web site Nerdfighters.

The Story: Hazel Lancaster, 16, has been battling thyroid cancer since age 13; only an experimental drug has kept her alive this long. Lonely, the oxygen tank-toting teenager joins a support group for ill teens, where she meets Augustus Walters, a handsome 17-year-old cancer survivor with a prosthetic leg. Gus is attracted to Hazel's wit; Hazel finds Gus intelligent and sexy. They waste no time in getting to know each other, and despite their terminal prognoses, they embark on a romance and adventure that help them accept and aid each other through their most challenging ordeals.
Dutton. 318 pages. $17.99. ISBN: 9780525478812

Entertainment Weekly 4 of 5 Stars"Green's legions of fans--self-proclaimed geeks who've adopted the tag ‘nerdfighters'--will be pleased to know that the author's unique brand of brainy, youthful humor shines in The Fault in Our Stars despite tackling illness and death. ... Their ensuing love story is as real as it is doomed, and the gut-busting laughs that come early in the novel make the luminous final pages all the more heartbreaking." Stephan Lee

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars"[It] is written in his signature tone, a blend of melancholy, sweet, philosophical and funny. ... [Green] shows us true love--two teenagers helping and accepting each other through the most humiliating physical and emotional ordeals--and it is far more romantic than any sunset on the beach." Natalie Standiford

NPR 4 of 5 Stars"[Green] writes for youth, rather than to them, and the difference is palpable. He doesn't dumb anything down. ... He tells his story with such gumption and tenderness that he almost adds a new genre to cancer-lit: romantic teen angst jumbled with big existential questions." Rachel Syme

Seattle Times 4 of 5 Stars"It's a novelistic tour de force, a book in which Green takes the impossibly grim subject of teenage cancer and creates a story that is, by turns, hilarious, joyous, outrageous and utterly sad. ... Green is a master of the unexpected plot twist." Karen MacPherson

USA Today 4 of 5 Stars"I realize the phrase ‘teen cancer novel' might sound like a bit of a downer, but Stars is actually funny, hopeful and smartly written. ... Books like The Fault in Our Stars may help some grown-ups realize how much great work is available in the young-adult sections of bookstores right now." Whitney Matheson

Critical Summary

Despite its depressing premise and graphic portrayals of pain and anger, The Fault in Our Stars surprised critics with its humor, tenderness, and, at some points in the story, even optimism. Sure, the notion of impending death casts a dark cloud over the novel, but Green's astute characterizations of adolescent lust and excitement in some sense make the novel a typical, albeit exceptionally told, tale of teenage love. Not only is it well plotted and intelligent; it also portrays its characters realistically: Gus, who at first may seem too good to be true, reveals his own frailty as he's forced to confront his illness. In the end, The Fault in Our Stars is a moving story of teenage romance, couched in a heartbreaking framework that asks philosophical questions about life and death.