When I started this book, I thought it would be a fluffy teenage romance. Although it's a bit cheesy, I could see that a younger me would have enjoyed the playful banter and the excitement the main character feels when she meets a boy that is interested in her. As the book goes on, I thought it dealt with several layers of emotion that are realistic for teenagers. I think the main characters are clever and interesting and I actually really enjoyed reading this book.
The two main characters are Hazel and Augustus. They both have cancer. Hazel was given a terminal diagnosis, but responded miraculously to one of her treatments. So now she lives with her oxygen tank, her worried and caring parents, and attends community college. Gus is in remission, and is immediately interested in Hazel when they meet.
The reason I think this story works is that it explores how having cancer has changed these kids' perspective on life and living. They have some great insight to life, but are also burdened with forboding of the future. I think it works. Gus wants to be a hero, he wants the mark he leaves on the world to be important. Hazel is worried about how many people she is going to hurt when she dies. They bond over a book they've read that seems honest and insightful about living with cancer. I liked them both.
There are times when I laughed and times when I cried, that's usually a good sign for a book, right?
My one complaint, which forces me to add a caveat is that *Spoiler* they have sex about 200 pages in. It doesn't add anything to the story, it doesn't change their relationship, it isn't addressed at any point later in the book. I can't figure out why John Green included this scene in his story unless he thought that it's what teenagers wanted to read. I think it is lame.
Since finishing this book, I keep seeing John Green books pop up on lists. Apparently he's really popular right now. This is the first book of his I've read, and I'm interested to see if I like his other ones.