Review: The Fault in Our Stars

I, like so many others, read and thoroughly enjoyed the book The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Yet, unlike the multitudes of teenage girls, I didn’t think the movie adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars was that great. Sure, Elaine Woodley portrayed Hazel Grace Lancaster perfectly, and Ansel Elgort as Augustus Waters was quite handsome. But it just didn’t do the book justice.

The Fault in Our Stars is about two teenagers, Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, who both have cancer. Hazel has thyroid cancer stage 4, with growths in her lungs that make it nearly impossible to breathe, while Augustus had osteosarcoma and is an amputee. They meet at a cancer support group and, naturally, they fall in love. If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, you’re probably thinking that it sounds very cliché. However, the realistic depiction of cancer and everything that comes with it makes it worth reading/watching. Hazel is depressed – “a side veffect of dying” – and you hear her own thoughts and observations of what it is like to be a teenager dying of cancer. She keeps her distance from Augustus, trying to spare him from being hurt when she inevitably dies. Yet, sure enough, several trips to the E.R, a few romance scenes, and an international vacation later, they fall in love. It is around now that you may dissolve in tears. For, when all seems to be well, tragedy strikes. One of the pair is gone forever.

The movie was a faithful adaptation of the book, with almost the entire plot staying the same. The characters and settings were exactly as imagined; some of the best quotes from the book were even included in the movie. The few details and characters that were omitted were relatively minor. Yet, there was a major difference in the focus of the movie compared to the book. The book was around 50% cancer and 50% love story. The movie, however, was about 70% love story and 30% cancer. It felt as if the producers were attempting to appeal to the diehard fan base more than stay true to the spirit of the book. I would have preferred less sappy love scenes and more of the inner emotions that Hazel felt in the book. I realize, of course, that in a movie you cannot have the deep thoughts and feelings you can have in a book. Still, nearly all the philosophical aspects of the book were left out of the movie. Hazel’s pondering about the nature of death, her belief that “the universe wants to be noticed”, went unnoticed in the movie. While I realize it is much harder to deal with philosophical questions in a movie than in a book, the movie lacked the depth and gravity that made The Fault in Our Stars one of the best young adult novels of our time.

If you’re a diehard fan who loves romance, then you’ll love the movie. Even if you’ve already read the book, the movie is worth watching, just to bring it all to life before your eyes. But if you haven’t read the book yet, I suggest you do; don’t just watch the movie. Only the book truly captures the spirit of The Fault in Our Stars.

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