Genre: YA Fiction
Paperback, 318 pages
Paperback, 318 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Speak (an imprint of Penguin Group)
First published January 1st 2012
My Rating: B
The Fault In Our Stars Film Adaptation
Released 6 June 2014
Directed by Josh Boone
Starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort
My Rating: B+
Oh, where to begin…
I started this books in the hope that I wouldn’t like it. That may seem like a silly thing to say, but let’s back up a little. This book is a worldwide sensation. People are figuratively losing their minds over it! The intensity of the fandom left me with the desire to not become one of those people. I wanted this book to be stupid and pretentious so I could set myself apart. Honestly, I think I was the one being a little stupid and pretentious.
Although this wasn’t my favourite book ever, and there were definitely parts that had my eyes rolling, I enjoyed the book overall. I read it in just two days, and found myself laughing along with Hazel and Augustus (although, what kind of names are those for teenagers?). However, even though I really did enjoy it, and the writing is insanely quotable, it did seem at times that it was trying too hard. That it was going out of its way to be philosophical yet funny, in a way that wasn’t completely natural. I realize that there is a group of hipstery, angsty, literate teenagers that do go on like Gus and Hazel do. I also realize that sitting on the precipice of “oblivion” likely causes one to be more philosophical and “existentially fraught” than others. But I also have never met a teenager whose every word was so eloquently put.
I’ve read some reviews by critics of the book who don’t seem to recognize that it is a young adult novel. Or at least they don’t recognize that means the target audience is teenagers and therefore it probably shouldn’t be held up to the same standards as, say, Pulitzer prize winners. No, maybe it’s not always completely realistic, and no, maybe it’s stupid to say that “V for Vendetta” is a boy movie. But It’s not meant to be a literary classic. It’s meant to draw teenagers back to the earth they actually live on and out of the Twilight-y clouds. It’s a bridge between kids books and adult books, just like the teenage years are a bridge between childhood and adulthood. Even though today there are many, many adults reading YA novels, I think it’s foolish to overlook the fact that they are teenager-oriented. They may have elements that adults can read and enjoy, but that doesn’t mean they should be read or critiqued in the same way that adult-oriented novels are. That’s almost as silly as reading a Franklin book and complaining that in no way would a turtle ever be best friends with a bear.
I don’t think that this novel is to be praised quite as highly as it is (that’s usually the way it is with most things), but I don’t think it should be disregarded either. For what it is, it’s a great read.
The highly anticipated film adaptation starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort was released June 6th of this year. The many fans of the book were both pumped out of their minds, and nervous that, like so many adaptations, it wouldn’t live up to their expectations. While there will always be something that gets left on the cutting room floor, this adaptation was remarkably true to the novel. Even a good chunk of Green’s narration made it into the film. There were a few departures from the book that hardcore fans might be disappointed about, however none of them were deal breakers. They were only minor things that, let’s be honest, would have only served to lengthen the already lengthy (ish) film.
The movie was well cast and well acted, not only staying true to the content of the book, but also its essence. I could feel John Green all throughout the movie.
When I went into the theatre, I expected to be the oldest person in the room. For the most part I was, but there were also a couple of old ladies sitting down front. I could hear people laughing and crying along with Hazel and Gus. And when it got closer to the end, lots of sniffling. When the movie was over, I was the first to get up and leave. Everyone else was still too distraught, bawling their eyes out. I’m not suggesting that I am heartless or made of stone. There were a few tears that snuck out without my permission. But I didn’t lose my mind. I didn’t when I read the book either. I guess it speaks well of the movie that it provoked the same reaction in me that the book did.
As far as adaptations go, this one was top notch; I think it’s possibly the most true to the source material that I have ever seen. If you enjoyed the book, you’ve obviously already seen the movie (probably—If not, you should). If you’re trying to decide whether either of them are worth your time, I can’t tell you. It seems that people feel very strongly about this book either way. I’d say that if you like YA fiction, then you will most likely enjoy this book. You’ll probably definitely enjoy the movie, though (IMDB gives it 8.5/10 and RottenTomatoes gives it 80%). I quite enjoyed both!
Happy reading and watching!
Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.