Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
Oh my stars. As many of you may know, John Green is probably my favourite author, and I preordered this book yonks ago, and have been waiting for it ever since! And let me tell you now; that wait was definitely world it! This book is probably his best yet, even though I personally think it differs from his other novels - mainly because he is telling the story through his female main character, not through the male. And I think he did that brilliantly - Hazel was incredibly realistic, and while you could tell she was a girl, she wasn't girly enough for you to want to slap her. She was down to Earth, and was the kind of person we all aspire to be - and she was battling with cancer. Now while I don't know much about it myself, from what I read, Green got the overall feeling of it accurate - but I wouldn't describe this as a cancer book. For me, it was a book that teaches you to expect the unexpected, and to make the most of what time you've got, and to appreciate the people in life that you meet along the way. I also loved the character of Augustus - Green made him so witty that it had me crying in laughter - but he also made him so serious and real that in the end I was crying with tears and pretty much managed to freak my mum and gran out. Hazel, Gus and Isaac were all just so inspirational, despite being ficticious - but out there, there are other people who are going through the same things that they did, and even if I don't know who every one is, I have even more respect for them now than I did before.
I have also become even more aware of This Star Won't Go Out, a foundation created by the Earl family to help families deal with cancer, after Esther Earl (the nerdfighter TFiOS is dedicated to) passed away in 2010. And even though I know this is mainly a book blog, can I just please ask anyone reading this for two minutes of your time to read Esther's story, and to perhaps donate some money to the foundation? And if you can't, then at least this year, on August 25th, drink a glass of orange juice and think of Esther - and not just her, but also Hazel and Gus and Isaac and anyone and everyone in the world battling with cancer. Because they are our heroes - no, they don't kick a football around a field or bring out a bestselling album - but they battle day-in-day-out to stay alive, even when it may be easier to give up. And I think that for as long as I live, I will not forget about reading this book and how it has literally changed my life.
Even if this doesn't sound like something you would read, I will you to give it a chance, because Green is such a talented author, and every book of his I have read has changed me for the better, in at least some way. And if a book can have so much good impact, surely it's got to be bloomin' amazing? (And that it is, if you haven't picked that up from the rest of the review.) Even though it is fresh off the shelves, I am already awaiting what masterpiece Green will be publishing yet, but I'm afraid I will probably have to wait for quite a few years. Ah well, I suppose I'll just have to reread this a million times.
(Also *slight spoiler alert* An Imperial Afflication is NOT REAL. I checked. But it should be. #JohnIfYoureReadingThisPleaseTakeNote )