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Emotional novel is about much more than cancer

New York Times best-selling author of "Looking for Alaska" and "Paper Towns," John Green, has done it again. Easily his best, his latest novel, "The Fault in Our Stars," does not disappoint.

It centers on 16-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster, a girl who watches "America's Next Top Model," is a vegetarian and obsesses over a book called "An Imperial Affliction."

But Hazel has terminal cancer.

At a support group for kids with cancer, Hazel meets Augustus Waters, a boy with one leg and an obsession with metaphors. The two quickly become friends, bonding over books and video games. Their relationship progresses, taking them places that neither would have imagined.

Written in Green's distinctive style, "The Fault in Our Stars" is a perfect blending of hilarity and philosophical musings. It deals with many intense and emotional topics, not only cancer and dying, but love, family and the true definition of heroism.

Green's transition from a male to female narrator was my main concern when beginning the novel. His previous novels had all been told from a teenage boy's perspective, and I was unsure how this change would affect the story. However, my worries were quickly put to rest, as he managed to capture a teenage girl's voice remarkably well. Hazel's voice just takes over as the book progresses.

Understandably, it might be easy for some to write this off as "just another cancer book," a Nicholas Sparks-like melodrama of death. While cancer definitely has a presence in the story, it is not the main event. Hazel and the other sick characters in the novel are more than their illnesses. They are thinking and feeling and living as best they can despite the way their lives have been altered by cancer.

My favorite part of the novel is when Augustus says, "That's the thing about pain It demands to be felt."

Largely a reoccurring theme throughout the book, this quotation goes beyond the book itself. Like each of Green's other books, "The Fault in Our Stars" has already had an impact on the lives of many, unearthing within each reader a depth of emotions and feelings that have no choice but to be felt.

Jenna Kersten is a junior at Mount Mercy Academy.


"The Fault In Our Stars"

By John Green

Dutton Books

336 pages, $17.99