Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 16-year-old teenager with thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs, attends a cancer patients’ support group at her mother’s behest. During a support meeting, Hazel meets a 17-year-old teenage boy named Augustus Waters, whose osteosarcoma caused him to lose his leg. Augustus is at the meeting to support his mutual friend, Isaac, who is losing his remaining eye to cancer. The two bond immediately after the meeting and Augustus invites Hazel to his house where the two strengthen their bond over a movie and their experiences with cancer.
Before departing, the two agree to read each other’s favorite novels. Augustus gives Hazel The Price of Dawn, and Hazel recommends An Imperial Affliction, a novel, written by Peter Van Houten, about a cancer-stricken girl named Anna that parallels Hazel’s own experience. After Augustus finishes reading her book, he is frustrated upon learning that the novel ends abruptly without a conclusion. Hazel explains the novel’s mysterious author had retreated following the novel’s publication and has not been heard from since.
A week later, Augustus reveals to Hazel that he has tracked down Van Houten’s assistant, Lidewij, and, through her, has managed to start an e-mail correspondence with Van Houten.
Hazel writes to Van Houten with questions regarding the novel’s ambiguous ending and the fate of the mother of Anna. Van Houten eventually replies, explaining that he can only answer Hazel’s questions in person. Hazel proposes the trip to her mother but is rejected due to financial and medical constraints.
Later, at a Dutch-themed picnic, Augustus surprises Hazel with tickets to Amsterdam, attained through a charitable foundation. She is thrilled, but when he touches her face she feels hesitant for some reason. Later, she looks up Augustus’s ex-girlfriend, Caroline Mathers, who died of brain cancer. On Caroline’s memorial page, a comment by Caroline’s friend causes Hazel to compare herself to a grenade: Hazel loves Augustus and fears hurting him when she dies. As she struggles with her love for Augustus and her death, Hazel suffers an episode of pleural effusion and is sent to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) prompting her parents and her doctors to question the safety of overseas travel. The medical team argues against the trip until Dr. Maria, one of the physicians most familiar with her case, convinces Hazel’s parents that Hazel must travel because she needs to live her life. When Hazel and Gus first get to Amsterdam, they go to a restaurant and find that Van Houten paid for their meal and champagne. Augustus then confesses his love for Hazel that night.
Hazel and Augustus finally meet Van Houten but are shocked to find that, instead of a prolific genius, he is a mean-spirited drunk. Horrified by Van Houten’s behavior, Lidewij confesses to having arranged the meeting on his behalf, angering Van Houten, who proceeds to insult Hazel’s cancer and refuses to answer any of her questions. The two leave the author in anger and disappointment. Accompanied by Lidewij, Hazel and Augustus visit the Anne Frank House. Hazel struggles to climb the many stairs and ladders leading up to the attic due to her lungs but by the end of the tour, Augustus and Hazel share a romantic kiss, followed by an applause from the other tourists in the attic. The next day, Augustus confesses that a recent PET scan revealed his cancer to have relapsed. Resolute, the two affirm their love and support for each other. Upon their return to Indianapolis, Augustus’ health significantly worsens. Augustus ends up in the ICU for a few days.
In his final days, Augustus invites Isaac and Hazel to his pre-funeral, where they give eulogies. Hazel quotes Van Houten about “larger and smaller infinities,” reaffirms her love for him, and states that she would not trade their short time together for anything in the world. Augustus dies eight days later. At the funeral, Hazel is astonished to find Van Houten in attendance. He explains that he and Augustus maintained correspondence since Amsterdam and that Augustus had demanded he make up for ruining their trip by attending his funeral. In an attempt for forgiveness, Van Houten tries to reveal the fate of Anna’s mother. Hazel, still upset with his behavior, asks him to leave. A few days later, while talking with Isaac, Hazel learns that Augustus may have been writing a sequel to An Imperial Affliction for her. As Hazel searches for the pages, she again encounters Van Houten.
He confides in Hazel that his novel was a literary attempt to reconcile with the death of his daughter, Anna, who died from cancer when she was eight. Hazel tells Van Houten to sober up and write another book. Eventually Hazel learns that Augustus sent the pages to Van Houten because he wanted Van Houten to use the pages to compose a well-written eulogy about Hazel. Lidewij forces Van Houten to read the pages and sends them to Hazel. Hazel reads Augustus’s words. He says getting hurt in this world is inevitable, but we do get to choose who we allow to hurt us, and that he is happy with his choice. He hopes she likes her choice too. Hazel states she does.
The Fault in Our Stars has received critical acclaim from critics. Critics mostly praised the book for its humor, strong characters, language, themes and new perspective on cancer and romance. The New York Times ’ review of the book called it “a blend of melancholy, sweet, philosophical and funny” and said that it “stays the course of tragic realism”, while noting that the book’s unpleasant plot details “do nothing to diminish the romance; in Green’s hands, they only make it more moving.” NPR’s Rachel Syme noted that “[Green’s] voice is so compulsively readable that it defies categorization,” saying that the “elegantly plotted” book “may be his best.”  Time called The Fault in Our Stars “damn near genius.” Entertainment Weekly wrote, “[Augustus and Hazel’s] love story is as real as it is doomed, and the gut-busting laughs that come early in the novel make the luminous final pages all the more heartbreaking”, and gave the novel an overall A− grade. Amazon.com calls it “insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw” and Green’s “most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet.” The Manila Bulletin says that the book is “a collection of maudlin scenes and trite observations about the fragility of life and the wisdom of dying.
And while it does talk about those things and more, the treatment of it is far from being maudlin or trite.” The Manila Bulletin also added that “Just two paragraphs into the work, and he immediately wallops the readers with such an insightful observation delivered in such an unsentimental way that its hard not to shake your head in admiration.” The Manila Bulletin stated that The Fault in Our Stars was a triumph for John Green. USA Today called it a “elegiac comedy.” They gave the book a rating of four out of four stars.The School Library Journal stated that it was “a strong choice for Adult Collections.” The Fault in Our Stars received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews, who described it as “a smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance.” Several well-known authors have contributed their own positive reviews for the book. Jodi Picoult, author of My Sister’s Keeper, calls The Fault in Our Stars “an electric portrait of young people who learn to live life with one foot in the grave.” She goes on to say that the novel is “filled with staccato bursts of humor and tragedy.”
Bestselling author of The Book Thief, Markus Zusak, describes it as “a novel of life and death and the people caught in between” and “John Green at his best”. Pertaining to Green’s writing throughout the book, E. Lockhart, author of The Boyfriend List, says “He makes me laugh and gasp at the beauty of a sentence or the twist of a tale. He is one of the best writers alive and I am seething with envy of his talent.” Time named The Fault in Our Stars as the #1 fiction book of 2012. Kirkus Reviews listed it among the top 100 children’s books of 2012. It also made USA Today ’s list of the top 10 books of 2012. In 2013, the Edmonton Journal named the book one of their “favourite books of the year.” One notable unfavorable opinion appeared in the Daily Mail.
In the piece, the plot of The Fault in Our Stars was described as ″mawkish at best, exploitative at worst″ and the book was characterized as belonging to the ″sick-lit″ young adult genre, together with other young-adult novels such as Never Eighteen and Before I Die. This entire genre, as well as the genre of young-adult novels dealing with suicide and self-harm (the piece mentions Thirteen Reasons Why; By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead; The Lovely Bones; and Red Tears) was criticized as being ″distasteful″ and inappropriate for their target audience of teens. The Guardian criticized the piece, pointing out in particular that The Fault in Our Stars was chosen by The Guardian as that month’s ″teen book club choice″ because ″it’s a gripping read, featuring two compelling characters, that deals sensitively and even humorously with a difficult situation without descending into mawkishness.″ In general, The Guardian faulted The Daily Mail for suggesting that the issues of illness, depression, and sexuality are inappropriate precisely ″in the one place where difficult subjects have traditionally been most sensitively explored for teens: fiction written specifically for them.″ For his part, in an interview for The Guardian, John Green said, ″The thing that bothered me about The Daily Mail piece was that it was a bit condescending to teenagers. I’m tired of adults telling teenagers that they aren’t smart, that they can’t read critically, that they aren’t thoughtful, and I feel like that article made those arguments.″
They do not hesitate to vegetarianize Hazel’s meal. Near the end of the novel, it means a lot to Hazel when Augustus’s father whispers in her ear about how great it is that she has been involved in his son’s life Dr. Maria – Hazel’s primary cancer doctor. She is a strong, assertive, yet empathetic physician. At one point Hazel remarks that Dr. Maria is very into giving out hugs. She convinces Hazel’s parents that Hazel should be allowed to travel to Amsterdam, despite their reservations. Kaitlyn – Hazel’s friend and former schoolmate. She is pretty, popular, and exemplifies what Hazel might have been like if she hadn’t been diagnosed with cancer and left school. Though they are still friends, there is a palpable distance between the two girls, who occupy such divergent worlds.