I think John Green described my thoughts on his book best when he wrote, “Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books…which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like betrayal.” I can’t rightly say which group I would place myself in terms of my feelings for this book, but either way, The Fault in Our Stars impacted me in a way few books seldom do.
If you haven’t heard about this book for whatever reason, let me give you a brief plot summary: “The story is narrated by a sixteen-year-old cancer patient named Hazel, who is forced by her parents to attend a support group, where she subsequently meets and falls in love with the seventeen-year-old Augustus Waters, an ex-basketball player and amputee.” I heard about TFiOS the way I’ve heard about many awesome things in the past year or so: Tumblr. Yes, amid the Superwholock gif sets, Teen Wolf feels-filled text posts, and cute baby animal videos, I saw random posts about this John Green and his book. I was already somewhat familiar with who he was, as I am a huge fan of his brother Hank’s web series The Lizzie Bennett Diaries (and the subsequent series Emma Approved) and a subscriber to their Vlogbrothers YT channel. Since I’m an avid reader and a lifelong fan of young adult fiction, I decided to see what all the fuss was about and read this book. You know the kind of book that makes you really feel something by the time you’ve finished it? Good or bad, you put that book down, having just run the emotional gauntlet? That was what TFiOS did to me. I felt tired, I felt wonder, I felt angry, I felt confused…I just felt. That book opened me up and asked of me hard questions that I didn’t have answers to, but that’s the point of works such as these. And I was grateful in a way for that experience.
So when I heard that they were adapting this amazing book to the big screen, I was a bit dubious. How could they capture the magic woven in those pages? Would they be able to translate Hazel in all her glorious complexities properly? Perhaps I fell into the second group of the aforementioned quote because I felt a surge of protectiveness for this novel and did not want Hollywood to screw it up. But I think John and his private glimpses on the set helped ease some of my fears. Many people doubted the casting of Shailene Woodley, but I remembered her performance in The Descendants and thought, “Yes! That girl can totally pull off Hazel!” As Alexandra, she was blunt in her honesty and raw in her performance, and I knew she could pull off a TFiOS scene like in the Literal Heart of Jesus where Hazel tells Gus that oblivion is inevitable and encourages him to ignore it. Some people bugged out when Nat Wolff didn’t have the right hair color for Isaac, but I knew just by his silly video with John that he would make a great Isaac. And Willem Dafoe as Peter Van Houten? Talk about perfect casting! The movie gods seemed to favor this project, and I felt my skin tingling in anticipation for this film.
And then the trailer was released! I’ve watched it over half a dozen times now, and by the end every single time, I am grinning like a loon. Perfection is very hard to come by in terms of books-to-film adaptations, but if this trailer is anything to go by, we have a very good contender. The trailer was edited extremely well, giving you just enough to make you curious without giving anything major away. I loved how Shailene’s voice sounded. It may sound like an odd thing to point out, but in my opinion, if you’re going to play a terminal cancer patient with breathing problems, you should look and sound the part. The scene where Hazel told Gus that she was a grenade gave me chills while the shot of Isaac, Hazel, and Gus egging Isaac’s ex’s car had me laughing. I actually filmed my reaction to my third viewing and put it up on my YT channel. It’s basically me grinning and giggling for three minutes.
There are a few things I’m looking forward to seeing in the film and how well they are translated from the source material. The first thing I’m looking forward to is seeing Hazel’s relationship with her parents. The opening scene in the book between Hazel and her mother is such a perfect mother/daughter moment and really helps establish the kind of relationship Hazel has with her. Plus, when you have two such talented actors as Laura Dern (Jurassic Park’s Dr. Sattler) and Sam Trammell (True Blood’s Sam Merlotte), you would be extremely remiss if you don’t utilize said talents. Yes, Hazel’s developing relationship with Gus is the focal point of the book, but she has these great moments with and talking about her parents that touched me just as deeply. One scene in particular is where Hazel is talking about her experience pre-miracle, when she thought she was dying. The imagery she painted, with her parents huddled close, reassuring her that it was okay to let go, her mother saying to Hazel’s father “I’m not going to be a mom anymore” was haunting and a moment I’d really love to see. To quote King Theoden of Lord of the Rings, “No parent should have to bury their child.”
Of course I’m excited to see Hazel and Gus’ relationship blossom on-screen. There are so many moments, hilarious, sweet, and tragic, that I’m looking forward to seeing but that can’t all be fit into a roughly two hour long film. But one thing I hope that stays is the sometimes brutally honest nature of their relationship. They’ve been put into situations that no teenager should, and as a result, have been forced to face their own mortality. And they don’t shy away from or avoid that fact: they look the beast straight in the eye and call it what it is. Do they have all the answers? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean they hide from it and nor it is the entirety of their relationship. They talk about the metaphor of putting a cigarette between your lips but not giving it the power to kill you, they bond over Hazel’s favorite novel An Imperial Affliction, and help their friend, Isaac, deal with his girlfriend dumping him. Regardless of their illnesses, they’re still two teens falling in love with each other and getting to see that on the big screen is beyond exciting.
If you haven’t read this beautiful novel, please do so. But if you’re not a reader (and my heart aches at the thought), you can watch The Fault in Our Stars when it comes to the big screen on June 6th. To all my fellow fans out there, what are you most looking forward to with the movie? What are some of your favorite moments from the book? Comment below and thank you for reading!
Author: Sarah Sue
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