Upon finishing this book, I couldn’t rest until I’d found its next reader. I passed it on at 11:30pm, about 30 minutes after finishing it.
Every time I see it on my five star list, I think to myself, “Does that deserve 5-stars?” Then, I start remembering it. “Oh. Right.” I think, “It does.”
Here’s my review, at least three months after reading it. I didn’t even Google anything, although I usually do to get the details right…This book is so amazing for me that it just comes flowing back.
The book is about Hazel. She’s a teenager. She’s dying of cancer. She wants to avoid being a “grenade” – she doesn’t want people to hurt because of her when she dies. To minimizing the casualties, she avoids everyone but her parents and the cancer support group she attends.
Beyond her parents, there is one other thing she cares about. It’s a book, by a Dutch author. She feels like he, through his book about death, is the only one who “gets” her and what she’s going through. (This is the book within the book. There is no such book or author, although Green quotes the book a fair amount in his book. I love that.)
Then, she meets a boy. He’s beautiful. He’s in remission.
Against all of her best judgment and running counter to her rules for coping with her impending doom, she forges a connection with him. She shares the book, and he shares her enthusiasm for it. There is love.
Then, there is the necessary external conflict that drives the plot forward. It is wonderful and only partially predictable, and I refuse to give it away.
The reviews I read of this book said that it was John Green at his best, and that his specialty is a highly-intelligent but detached teenage protagonist, but in this book everything is pitch perfect. I’ve only read one other Green protagonist (one of the Will Graysons in Will Grayson, Will Grayson), and while I really liked it I agree that he has taken his strengths to the next level in this intense, emotional, intelligent and highly literary book.
A must read for deep and thoughtful teenagers everywhere, and delicious and poignant for the rest of us. Bravo.