The more than 150,000 fans who preordered John Green’s novel The Fault in Our Stars got their signed copies on Tuesday. By today, they are probably wishing they’d also received a coupon for Sephora with their purchase, because seriously, those up-all-night-crying eyes are not a good look. The superstar YA author’s latest is a tearjerker of Jody Picoult levels: It’s about a girl, Hazel, who’s had terminal cancer in her lungs for years, and a boy, Augustus, who had his leg removed due to bone cancer. Luckily, though, it’s also a John Green novel, so there are just as many laughs as there are gutwrenching sobs.
“You have no idea how sad I wanted it to be,” Green told us on the phone on Monday, when we jokingly asked him if he ever wanted to write a “happily ever after” story. “My responsibility is to try to tell true stories. To me a true story is always hopeful, but never simply, uncomplicatedly happy.”
Just to be clear, by “true” he doesn’t mean nonfiction. Though the Looking for Alaska author was inspired to write TFIOS (as fans call it) after befriending a girl with terminal cancer, he is very careful to warn readers that the book’s Hazel is not his late friend Esther.
“There are a lot of particularly superficial similarities between Esther and Hazel. The main superficial similarity is that they’re both very empathetic people,” he said. “But in a lot of ways they’re very, very different, and since Esther isn’t here to defend herself, it was important to me to not claim a close association.”