Tag Archives: John Green

The Fault In Our Stars offers a brutally honest take on life

The Fault In Our Stars — a tragic romance that urges readers to enjoy every breath they take.

John Green’s novel follows the tale of two adolescent cancer patients Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters. The plot is effectively simple; these teenagers fall in love while suffering from the harsh realities of cancer.

Hazel begins the story depressed. She loves watching bad reality television and doesn’t care much for activities outside of that and sleeping. At her mom’s request, she goes to a support group for other children dealing with cancer, where she meets Augustus Waters.

Augustus is that kid in high school who just couldn’t be knocked down. Even after losing a leg to cancer he can’t stop smiling. He’s alive and intends on enjoying life’s splendors. Of course, Hazel along with seemingly every female reader, eats this up.

Green gives Augustus a distinctly existential frame of mind. He wants to live his life and have it stand for something. When Augustus plays video games, he doesn’t care if he wins so long as his character dies with valor, and heroism; representing his attitude after supposedly beating cancer.

Hazel wants to isolate herself to minimize the amount of pain she causes those around her. Image from emmswaan
Hazel wants to isolate herself to minimize the amount of pain she causes those around her. Image from emmswaan

Hazel is the opposite of this; her diagnosis is a grim one. She’s experienced her share of miracles just to be alive. As previously mentioned, she begins the story in a state of depression. Hazel doesn’t want friends because she considers herself a grenade. The closer people are to her, the more pain she’ll cause when she inevitably dies.

So, there you have it: a boy who is wants to go out in a blaze of glory and a girl who would rather pass quietly into the night. It’s the make of a great heart-wrenching tale, which Green executes on every level.

Green knows his audience and doesn’t attempt to make his book into something more than it is. He’s aware it’s a young adult novel (don’t harp on young adult books, it’s everyone’s guilty pleasure and we all know it) thus keeping it very easy to read. Fortunately, he doesn’t let that limit him.

Between the existentialism and the brutal honesty of the book, Green uses famous masterpieces of fiction like “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and “The Red Wheelbarrow” to further this book’s theme of hope and acceptance.

This young adult novel became a blockbuster hit earlier this summer by earning $48.2 million in its opening weekend, but is the movie better than the book?

Of course not.

Not to undermine the performances of Shailene Woodley (Hazel) and Ansel Elgort (Augustus), they were both brilliant, but once again the theatrical adaptation fails to fully showcase everything the book was.

As a certain character (who won’t be named in the interest of avoiding spoiler) gets sicker he or she under goes a number of personality changes. Green made the toll of the disease, pertaining to who they are as a person, very tangible. In the cinema, this level of detail was glossed over and nearly forgotten.

The chemistry between Woodley and Elgort was near perfect. For the most part, the writing was flawless. It’s unfortunate that somewhere in the translation, between paper and film, some of the brutal honesty of the novel was lost.

The Fault in Our Stars isn’t just a love story, but of course pop culture doesn’t see it that way. This book is about teenagers learning to grieve, and accept their lives as they are. The love story between Hazel and August is merely the path Green takes in expressing this concept.

This idea seems to have been lost in the cinematic production, making irony of this issue is astonishing. In the novel, Hazel and Augustus become deeply invested in a fictitious book called “An Imperial Affliction.” Hazel has (to put it softly) a small obsession with discovering what happens to the characters of the book after an abrupt ending to the made up novel.

Upon meeting the author, Peter Van Houten, he pushes to give them a philosophical meaning to the book. Van Houten refuses to explain what happens to the characters (this resistance is explained later on) even as Hazel aggressively pries him for answers.

Isn’t it ironic that, just like hazel, most of America has clung to the most physical part of the novel? Characters are easier to understand than the hidden messages they carry. Thanks to this, the movie adaptation pays a lot of attention to the romantics while losing some the lessons of acceptance.

While the movie still made its audience cry, it wasn’t as poignant as the old fashioned pen and paper.

Book review: The fault in our stars

The Fault in Our Stars is John Green at his best – emotional and gripping, with witty characters and a story that keeps you glued to the book until the end. The book follows a terminal cancer patient named Hazel Lancaster as she falls in love and learns important lessons about life, death and dreams. It is, as Markus Zusak says, “A novel of life and death and the people caught in between.”

A touching story about a terminal cancer patient named Hazel Lancaster who learns about life, death and everything in between. Photo by Creative Commons.

However, some readers may not like the somber tone of the story. Most of the main characters are either dying or debilitated, or related to those who are. With that in mind, let’s delve deeper into the story. Continue reading Book review: The fault in our stars