This book follows the story of 2 teenagers, Hazel and Augustus, who both have cancer. Hazel and Gus meet each other at a support group for kids with cancer, and fall in love. Hazel has cancer in her lungs and her condition always has and will be terminal. Gus had cancer in his leg and after it was amputated went into remission. Hazel and Gus spend many hours together, young and in love, spending as much time as they can together, not knowing how much time Hazel has left when all of a sudden things turn for the worse and Gus’s cancer returns, this time terminal. These teenagers put their might together to battle cancer and live a normal life for as long as they can.
Hazel and Gus are very much a like. They connect through a book that describes the way they feel about life in the perfect way. The book is called An Imperial Affection and is written by a man named Peter Van Houten. The book follows a girl named Anna who gets a rare blood cancer. But the book isn’t a normal cancer book. Anna decides that being a person with cancer is like being a side effect, and Hazel and Gus agree with this. Hazel says “Cancer kids are essentially side effects of the relentless mutation that made the diversity of life on earth possible.” As the story goes on Anna gets sicker and sicker, the treatments and disease are killing her, and her mom falls in love with a man who grows tulips. Just as the Dutch tulip man and Anna’s mom are about to get married the story ends. In the middle of a sentence. This has always made Hazel curious. She understands that the story stops because Anna was telling the story, and Anna died. But she still wants to know what happens. As Gus finishes the book he wants to know too. So they use Gus’s wish to go to Amsterdam and meet the author. Peter Van Houten is a raging drunk and won’t tell them anything except that Anna was his daughter. As the story progresses Gus and Hazel develop into greater characters and no longer want this book to tell them how to live their life.
When Gus dies, Hazel goes on to his online web page and reads some of the comments that have been posted. One comment particularly stood out to her. “Just heard that Gus Waters died after a lengthy battle with cancer. Rest in peace buddy.” Hazel looked at all these posts from people that barely new Gus and started to think how strange it is that you get all these friends just when you don’t need friends any more. She wrote a reply that particularly stood out to me. “We live in a universe devoted to creation, and eradication, of awareness. Augustus Waters did not die after a lengthy battle with cancer. He died after a lengthy battle with human consciousness, a victim -as you will be- of the universe’s need to make and unmake all that is possible.” This stuck out to me not only as a huge character change but a theme as well. Death happens, it happens to everyone. We can’t let the people like the ones that wrote those comments rule our lives. Those people didn’t know Gus. They knew him as a basketball start. They remembered him doing something he didn’t even like. Hazel in this comment was saying that Gus lived a life, something only God can grant us. God also took that life. Gus had a duty to be here on earth and be the gracious person he was, and nobody but God had an influence over that. It doesn’t matter who people say we are, what we do, or who we spend time with. Two people and only two people control our journey on earth. It is controlled by us mentally, and God physically, and we shouldn’t let anything else influence that journey. I feel that this is what John Green wanted us to take from this book.
I love John Green. He has a unique way of not only connecting with teenagers but with adults as well. The novel is not a classic, but does teach a good lesson. I would definitely recommend this to a friend, as it was recommended to me. It’s a really awesome book.