I'm totally not above youth fiction but I probably would have passed this book up on the shelves had it not been written by a guy who resides in Carmel just north of where I live. It's fiction, but he uses a lot of locations in the book that most Indy people know about like Castleton Mall theater and Holiday park. This older cover pictured isn't bad but the newer cover (also movie cover) is two teens with their faces nuzzled together laying in the grass...so ya, probably wouldn't have been "oh my, I must read that fun looking book." ;)
I wasn't totally hooked the first chapter...the main characters had very grown up dialect and it seemed a bit unrealistic. In an interview, John Green says he was writing with what teens think they sound like or are conveying in their minds which does make some sense. It still got a little distracting at times when Agustus would answer the question "how are you doing" with "grand". But then after a few more chapters and him still answering "grand"...I got kind of used to it and pictured kind of a too cool for School kind of kid which sort of fits him so...I guess the author did what he intended with that. Overall...I don't really agree with the main character's thoughts on the value of human suffering which is a really big concept to wade through. And while her opinion is just an opinion, she's the main voice of the book and she's dying so she has some built in authority on the subject. I think human suffering does have value (not that I've had cancer, but my dad has and based on the emotional suffering I've experienced in my life). Hazel (first person point of view character) from the beginning of the book is quite cynical about preconceived notions (mostly religious) like her support group meeting in the literal heart of Jesus since the church is shaped like a cross and they meet at the cross beam where his heart would have been for meetings is an ongoing joke and something to roll eyes about. To say "literal" heart of Jesus is annoying to be fair. It's probably pretty realistic to how a dying teen would feel in that situation but there is quite a lot of ongoing disdain for cultural shows of respect, even a typical funeral set up drives Hazel nuts...or is it her grief? Thinking back, it is somewhat rounded out at times, like at one point they make fun of bad nurses and then later really appreciate nurses too.
At the end of the book I did tear up which I guess is a typical response from most readers.
There is quite a lot of language in the book which I don't find really necessary but I guess with all the proper sounding speech, the author must have thought it was needed to make them sound human.
I couldn't help noticing that is it a modern era Romeo and Juliet story with star crossed lovers...which is actually referenced in the book (not to mention title) if you chanced to miss it. ;)
If you want to read a book that will make you tear up just enough, contemplate fate/suffering and people in general, I would read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. That's a book that comes back to my mind sometimes in different situations while this book will probably not stay in my mind as vividly.