As many of my friends, family members, and students will know, The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, is a book I love and adore. I might not have read it, having not particularly enjoyed Looking for Alaska, but a much trusted literary friend of mine recommended it to me. I ended up buying it a few days before my husband and I went on our first big trip together: New Zealand to Europe! On the flight I read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and TFIOS so that I could appreciate the literary awesomeness of BEING in Amsterdam, the setting of a book I was READING. I finished reading the tragic tale of Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters in the car driving somewhere between Amsterdam and Germany in a mush of tears.
First of all, I find John Green to be a very impressive person. If you are unfamiliar with his amazingness I suspect you may have been living under some sort of metaphorical rock for quite some time! What I like about Mr. Green is that he has broken the boundaries of the role of ‘author’ into something new, exciting, and unique. In addition to his compelling written work for young adults, he maintains an epic YouTube presence within which he explores innovative methods of storytelling. This combination is one which I consider to be a remarkable foray into The New World of Literature. If you haven’t come across his vlog adaptation of Pride and Prejudice – The Lizzie Bennett Diaries then you have some exciting viewing ahead of you. Additionally, those of you educators out there may find his Crash Course videos useful in the classroom.
Now, with that out of the way, we can proceed to the book review part of today’s post.
The Fault in our Stars is one of the most likely books to make you laugh and cry then leave you emotionally devestated. It takes you on a journey, an emotional journey as well as a quest from America to Amsterdam. Hazel Grace, the girl with cancer who holds everyone at arms length, meets Augustus Waters, the charming cancer conqueror, and thus begins their love story. There’s some sweet and very intellectual flirtation and philosophical discussion about the meaning of life, and even some bonding over a beloved book. But there are also some very ‘high school’ moments: egging the ex, playing video games, late night hanging out in the basement – elements which I think help add a classic feel to the story.
The novel has been making waves through my students at school, both avid readers and those less inclined to lose themselves in the pages of a book. It is a great talking point on a regular basis and we’ve all been looking forward to watching the film. I’ve heard tales of tears and emptied tissue boxes, along with the more cynical who were less impressed with it’s rendering on screen. We were all particularly nervous about the brother sister relationship from Divergent being the intense romantic relationship in TFIOS. However, to the credit of Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley there were no incestuous overtones to their star crossed relationship.
I actually went to the movie with my sister, and having heard stories of the tears and so forth we came armed with a box of tissues, chocolate and icecreams. I actually only needed a few tissues but SERIOUSLY there were people SOBBING all around us.
If a story has the power to pull on our heart strings in such a violent manner I consider it a success.
My main issues with the movie were that the characters were significantly dumbed down, and Hazel appears to have no friends outside of her support group. Do film viewers value intellect less than book lovers? Do important female heroines not need that one annoying friend who they try keep up with? I think that without the deep philosophical discussions between Hazel and Gus we miss out on their deep connection, the food that nourishes their love, if you like. Some of my students also really hated the speech bubble style rendition of their texts, which I think is a valid critique.
In summation, if you have not read this book, you must. Even if it doesn’t sound like your thing, it’s kind of a big deal.
If you are going to watch the movie without watching the book STOP what you are doing and read the book first! It’s well written, witty, and worth your while to read.
It is, as you may have guessed, a 5/5 from me.
Want to read it?