NORMAN — “Hunger Games” swept the world with its daring commentary on Big Brother, reality TV and violence. “Fifty Shades of Grey” stole the no. 1 spot on New York Times best sellers by being a popular guilty pleasure. And “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green is quietly taking over by stealing the hearts and choke-holding the emotions of readers everywhere.
Hazel Lancaster is the book’s 16-year-old narrator. She’s been living with thyroid cancer (with mets in her lungs) since she was 13. As Hazel says, she’s “never been anything but terminal.” But because of a medical miracle drug, she has been granted an unknown amount of time to keep living. Of course, her living is TV reruns and book re-reads.
The plot begins when Hazel’s parents sign her up for a “Cancer Kid” support group, to better cope with her growing depression. A depression, Hazel clarifies, that is not a side affect of cancer, but rather a side affect of dying. Her disinterest in the support group is apparent until she meets Augustus Waters. And then everything changes. Suddenly, she’s having adventures, meeting people she never dreamed she would, and seeing far off lands usually only viewed on Google images.
Augustus is 17, and was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at a young age and lost his right leg. Currently in remission, Augustus makes it clear that he’s going to live his life to the fullest. His disease doesn’t define him, he defines himself. A real charmer, Hazel can’t help but fall for Augustus’ tendency to pick his behaviors based on their metaphorical resonance.
With Augustus in her life, Hazel is no longer the home-schooled, cancer-ridden teenager who watches America’s Next Top Model reruns like they were her religion. And it’s through her sudden and new experience of life that the story comes alive.