John Green releases new book
Even before it was released earlier this month, The Fault in Our Stars has promised to stand out from the rest of John Green’s bibliography. This is in no small part due to Green’s unprecedented decision to sign all 150,000 copies of the first printing of his fourth novel (fifth if you include Will Grayson, Will Grayso, which he co-wrote with writer David Levithan).
The Fault in Our Stars lives up to the tremendous hype that Green’s cult following has built around its release, such as Photoshopping images of the book on to Ferdinand Pauwels’ “Martin Luther’s 95 Theses.”
Like all of Green’s previous works, The Fault in Our Stars explores the depths of the human condition and the ways in which the relationship between the self and society changes. However, the book feels much more immediate and visceral than anything else Green has written, perhaps barring his first book Looking for Alaska.
This can immediately be attributed to the two central characters in the novel, Hazel Lancaster and Augustus Waters, two teenagers who have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and osteosarcoma, respectively. Both main characters display the wit and humor that are characteristic of Green’s work, but the knowledge that either character could die at any time results in the humor merely magnifying the constant threat of death. The supporting cast — fellow cancer patients, an emotionally volatile family, and health care professionals who are oblivious to the lives of their patients — also contributes to the bleak tone of the book.
Green’s dedication to his work shines most brightly within The Fault in Our Stars. It is not hard to see why, considering Green has previously stated that this novel was partially influenced by being a chaplain at a children’s hospital, an experience that had a great impact on him. The epigraph, an excerpt from a book that exists only within the world of The Fault in Our Stars, and the use of the band The Hectic Glow — a musical idea proposed in Green and his brother’s YouTube series Vlogbrothers — help to create a very insular universe.
While at times The Fault in Our Stars seems to lack the feeling of having an overarching plot, it becomes a montage of moments held together with teenage intellectualism and emotional confrontations that somehow manages to remain cohesive.