Two teenagers, one with cancer, one in remission, fall in love at the cancer kid support group. How do relationships work when death is looming in your own body?
TFiOS is meant to not be your typical cancer story, but I still found it to be your typical cancer story. The characters Hazel, Augustus, Isaac, the parents, Lidewij and Van Houten are all equally charming, possibly because they sound like they're all speaking with the same witty, perfect statement-making voice. I like this voice in the shape of Augustus justifying carrying unlit cigarettes between his lips (Hazel has lung cancer), Hazel's thoughts on being terminal and Peter Van Houten's struggle with (people actually reading) his book, but I didn't find it realistic. This is one of the reasons why the book lacked another dimension for me (and only made me shed two tears, very disappointing!), even though it really tried to get to that level.
There are some ideas in the background that were possibly part of the plan to make this book not the typical cancer story, but that didn't perfectly crystallize into the story. An example is Augustus' wish to leave a mark on the world, which he succeeded in even after he sort of came to terms with that he wouldn't. Accepting this and simply dying (the latter is something which a lot of people do every day, making it realistic bonus points event) would've been more powerful to me than the quick twist (we can't just let this charming character die a quiet death!) at the end.
Portraying the characters as normal, non-heroic, cynical, non-charity fund raising, realistic human beings failed just because of their perfect John Green voice and still being heroic in a way in the very end.