Perhaps you were one of the legions of fans who sobbed into your popcorn at a weekend screening of The Fault in Our Stars, the love story of two teenagers with cancer? Or perhaps you were one of the millions of readers who helped turn John Green’s original novel into a blockbuster, way before Shailene Woodley agreed to star in the movie adaptation as Hazel? Either way, you may have noticed the story’s many references to some pretty obscure concepts. Peter Van Houten, who you might call TFiOS‘s antagonist, is not only a reclusive author who enjoys Swedish hip hop and has a a superior understanding of the mathematical implications of infinity, but he also dabbles in philosophy. In both the book and movie versions of TFiOS, something called “the trolley problem” comes up. In the movie, it’s at a moment when Hazel does not want to deal with Van Houten, but since we at Workman Publishing happened to have published a book on this very topic, we thought we would pick up where the movie left off.
The Trolley Problem, or Would You Throw the Fat Guy Off the Bridge? is Thomas Cathcart’s exploration of a classic philosophical conundrum, first posed by Philippa Foot: if a trolley is about to kill a bunch of people, but you could save them by sacrificing one person, should you? It’s a thorny question that will make you think about all kinds of ethical issues, and Cathcart explores it from every side. So why did John Green choose to include the trolley problem in TFiOS? It’s certainly a book that asks the big questions–think about how Hazel struggles with whether or not she should love anyone or allow herself to be loved when she’s, in her words, a grenade who will eventually explode. Think about how Hazel and Augustus argue over oblivion, and whether anyone or anything will matter in the long run. Now can’t you see where the trolley problem fits in? So if you’re a TFiOS fan or nerdfighter who wants to read up on the kind of mind-bending philosophy that Hazel and Augustus might text about, maybe this book should be your next stop.