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Thursday, 11 September 2014

John Green - The Fault in Our Stars

review written and read live on the bookshow by Ro Bennett on 12th Sept 2014.
By June of this year, this book had already sold almost 11 million copies worldwide and has been on the New York Times best seller list for more than 130 consecutive weeks. The author has 2.4 million Twitter followers and 8.6 million subscribers on his various You Tube channels and the trailer for the film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars is the most liked in You Tube’s history with over 20 million views, according to an article in the Radio Times. Currently that’s now over 28 million. 
This multi-million #1 bestseller is now a major motion picture starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort as Hazel and Gus, a pair of teenagers both suffering from terminal cancer who fall in love. 
The inspiration for the character of Hazel was Esther Earl who tragically died of thyroid cancer in 2010 at the age of sixteen. She was a huge fan of John Green's books and was a nerdfighter, which is the name for the devoted fans of Vlogbrothers, an online channel the author created with his brother Hank in 2007. A video blog or video log, sometimes shortened to vlog - hence vlogbrothers. The author met Esther at a Harry Potter convention and they became fast friends. Saddened by Earl's death, he dedicated a eulogy in vlog format titled, Rest in Awesome, Esther. As far as the book is concerned, he wanted to make it very clear that although it was inspired by Esther, it is not her story, it is not about Esther. He says: She helped me see that people living with illness or who are severel disabled - Esther was both - have as rich an emotional life as anyone else - the same desires, the same frustrations. When Esther died, I was very mad.  Most of the book was written in furious grief after her death. Esther Earl uploaded her own vlogs onto Youtube. Shailene Woodley who is playing Esther in the film told John Green that she has watched them all. 
So about the book. This is the blurb: 
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.
Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.
To me it was a very interesting, unusual and heart wrenching book. 

Seventeen-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster has terminal thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs. She reluctantly attends a cancer patients' support group to placate her mother. Because of the cancer, she has to use a portable oxygen tank to help her breathe. In one of the meetings she catches the eye of a teenage boy who she learns is Augustus Waters. He's there to support their mutual friend, Isaac. Isaac had a tumor in one eye that he had removed, and now he has to have his other eye taken out as well. Augustus had osteosarcoma, but he is now cancer free after having his leg amputated.

A close friendship develops between Hazel and Gus and she shares her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, with him and together they obsess about the  novel’s ambiguous conclusion. It is about a girl named Anna who has cancer but the novel maddeningly ends mid sentence, so the reader doesn’t discover fate of the novel’s characters.Esther is desperate to know what happened.  Augustus manages to somehow get through to the author and when Hazel emails him, he invites her to come to Amsterdam to discuss the ending of the book. 
Will they be able to go? And if they get there what will happen? Will they discover the ending of the book? The book is full of unexpected twists and turns. There is humour and pathos and it is a tear jerker. 
Although the book is about cancer - cancer did not define the characters neither is it just a saccharine girl and boy fall in love tragedy, there is plenty to keep the reader turning the pages.

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