I was reluctant to read this book for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a young adult book. I’m generally not a fan of young adult. I did not like The Hunger Games. Second, it’s gotten a lot of hype. A lot. Everyone professes to love this book. When a book gets that much hype, I have a hard time approaching it neutrally. I bought it for Patrick. Or so I told myself. I “borrowed” it. And I loved it. Love, love, loved it.
The story, in case you don’t know, it about Hazel Grace, a sixteen year old cancer survivor with wrecked lungs. She is terminal, but her life is being extended by a drug she takes. At a support group for teens with cancer, she meets Augustus. He had a very survivable form of cancer and he has a prosthetic leg. He’s athletic, handsome, and smart. Hazel is smart – both intelligent and a smart alec. The cast of supporting characters include Hazel’s parents, Augustus’ parents and Hazel and Augusts’ friend. Hazel shares her favorite book with Augusts and he shares his with her. Theirs is a love story.
Two things captivated me about this book. The first is that it’s not a sappy love story though it easily could be. It’s tender and sad all at the same time. It could easily have been sappy and over done. I love the way John Green writes teenagers. He writes them they way I imagine them – smart, hormonal, know-it-alls and full of angst. However, what he does that I think is brilliant is adds a sense of humor. And a sense of mortality and fatality without being moribund.
The second reason I love this book so much is the language. The only person I could think of to compare to him is Aaron Sorkin. The language is crisp and smart. Intelligent, funny, and sad. I was taken aback and blown away by his use of language. Every sentence is perfect. This having been the only John Green book I’ve read, I’m not sure if it is how he always writes or if this is the “one” book. But I will say if all his books are written this way, I have some more reading to do.
I love young adult books that are serious, not condescending, and frankly, not dumb. This book was all of that. I cannot say enough good things about it. I highly recommend it to people of all ages.