Cancer books normally scare me off. Hell, I bought this novel based on my previous love for John Green's writing and rave reviews for his latest and I still didn't want to read it once I had it home. Even though every review said it isn't really a cancer book, it isn't sad or maudlin or depressing. But still: Cancer book. Who wants to read that? Well I'm glad I did and I'm here now to try to convince you to do the same. This is an amazing book. I recommend it highly.
The narrator is a 16-year-old girl named Hazel and she's got cancer. Terminal cancer of some form that is described in minor detail that I won't bore you with now. But Hazel is funny. Not like laugh-out-loud funny but full-on sarcastic, I'm going to die but I'm cool with it and the world kind of sucks, funny. You know, funny. She's an incredibly appealing narrator who becomes even moreso when she meets Augustus, a cancer kid in remission who finds her at a support group at her church (which is the victim of some well-earned barbs). What starts as mostly a cancer story becomes a love story, something else I don't particularly care for in my reading but these two characters are so damned appealing that I couldn't help myself. I couldn't help but love the story being told. Hazel's parents and Gus's parents and Isaac from support group who is partially blind from the cancer are all perfect supporting characters and there's a wonderful connection to a book by an author in the Netherlands but I won't spoil with any more information other than to say that every character comes to life, no matter how minor, and everything in the story serves an eventual purpose. The cancer angle is there throughout -- how could it not be -- but it's not an overwhelming presence, and even your attachment to the characters doesn't quite make you sad about their fate in life because they've accepted it, they are bravely facing it, so you as a reader go along. As you must. And John Green's magical writing takes you wherever he wants to. I couldn't put the book down, I read it in just a few hours over a couple sittings. And I would suggest that anyone -- even someone turned off by cancer stories or love stories or stories about teenagers or anything else -- would love it too. Please give it a read. You won't be disappointed.