The Fault in Our Stars

John Green. Dutton, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-525-47881-2
If there's a knock on John Green (and it's more of a light tap considering he's been recognized twice by the Printz committee) it's that he keeps writing the same book: nerdy guy in unrequited love with impossibly gorgeous girl, add road trip. His fourth novel departs from that successful formula to even greater success: this is his best work yet. Narrator Hazel Grace Lancaster, 16, is (miraculously) alive thanks to an experimental drug that is keeping her thyroid cancer in check. In an effort to get her to have a life (she withdrew from school at 13), her parents insist she attend a support group at a local church, which Hazel characterizes in an older-than-her-years voice as a "rotating cast of characters in various states of tumor-driven unwellness." Despite Hazel's reluctant presence, it's at the support group that she meets Augustus Waters, a former basketball player who has lost a leg to cancer. The connection is instant, and a (doomed) romance blossoms. There is a road trip—Augustus, whose greatest fear is not of death but that his life won't amount to anything, uses his "Genie Foundation" wish to take Hazel to Amsterdam to meet the author of her favorite book. Come to think of it, Augustus is pretty damn hot. So maybe there's not a new formula at work so much as a gender swap. But this iteration is smart, witty, profoundly sad, and full of questions worth asking, even those like "Why me?" that have no answer. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/16/2012
Release date: 01/10/2012
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