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.
I've read a few of Green's other books and I always go back and forth on how much I like them. I usually find them an enjoyable read, but with problems that annoy me too much to say I really love them (with the exception of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which I adored). So, despite the good reviews of this latest book, I had my doubts going in. I will say right now that I was wrong. Very wrong. I loved this book. It seems that all Green had to do to really get my vote was create a female protagonist. That small change fixed the biggest issue I have with his writing - his overuse of the MPDG character trope.
Yet, the mere existence of the female protagonist isn't the only reason I enjoyed this so much. Hazel is genuinely a great character. She's neither too angry, too saccharine, too maudlin, nor any of the other "too" adjectives that come so easily to cancer stories. Instead, she reads as a more realistic portrayal of a teenage girl dealing with terminal cancer (well, a realistic girl who often speaks in the typical highly stylized Green dialogue). Augustus ends up being well-developed for a supporting character and a nice foil for Hazel. Their relationship and the way they see the world, while obviously shaped by their disease, keeps this from being a typical "cancer book." The story is less about dying and more about living and falling in love and growing up, even when that growing up is going to be cut short. However, you never forget that this is a story about a girl with a terminal illness. That leaves a shadow over everything that happens. You know this story won't have a happy ending. But that doesn't keep the journey to the end from being worth reading.
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