The first thing I post that will fall under the “On Media” category is about The Fault in Our Stars (henceforth to be referred to as TFIOS because life is easier that way).
Q: Why? A: Because it’s wildly popular and also because it made me cry.
Q: The book or the movie? A: Both!
Q: But which is better? A: Oh… for once this is a hard question. The book, though, because as all books do it allows for more character development, and we get a bit of a better glimpse inside Hazel’s head. Also, the book allows even more of John Green’s wonderful humour to shine through.
Q: John Green? Are you a nerdfighter? A: Yes. Technically. According to their definition and also *checks just to make sure* according to Urban Dictionary. Although I don’t really do many nerdfighter things. But now I have a blog, which is a start. For more on this, see a later post on the Vlogbrothers, nerdfighters, and other things of that nature. Once I make it.
Okay, Q&A is over because if it isn’t we will get off topic. TFIOS, as I’m sure many people know, is a book about a girl named Hazel who has cancer in her lungs. Her mom makes her go to a cancer support group, where she meets a cancer survivor named Augustus, who only has one leg. The book is their story, and I won’t give away the ending without warning people. The title is from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and I don’t really need to repeat the quote here as it’s all over the internet and can be found in seconds from your computer at home, if you don’t already know. Essentially, the title is meant to suggest that what happens to Hazel and Augustus is destiny, and there was nothing they could do about it: their misfortune is a “Fault in their Stars”.
I liked this book because not only is it about living with cancer, but it’s about the people who live with people with cancer. Hazel thinks a lot about what will happen to the people around her when she dies. Her greatest worry is about her parents: what will they do once she’s gone? Right now all they do is look after her. At one point she also tells Augustus that she just wants to minimize the damage that her death will cause, and that’s why she doesn’t go out and make friends, that’s why she doesn’t want to get close to people. This worry is also shown in her reaction to finding out about Augustus’ old girlfriend, who died of cancer, and in her preoccupation with what happens to the other characters in An Imperial Affliction after Anna dies. I love the fact that John Green manages to showcase the conflict of cancer patients and that of those of us who are left behind through one character, and it’s done beautifully.
Other great thing about the book: Augustus isn’t perfect. Yes, he’s good-looking and charming and kind and compliments Hazel really well. But he’s also really proud, and it’s this flaw that shows through every grand gesture. His life revolves around making an impression: making sure the world remembers him. It makes him very human, more so than his cancer does, because we all want to be noticed in some way. Augustus Waters is a little reminder that it’s good enough to be important and remembered by a few, and that you don’t have to be noticed by the world to be a great in somebody’s life.
What about the movie? Very well done, that’s what I think. The actors chosen to play the characters did beautifully, and the directors did a really good job of getting all the important little things into the movie. In a book like that, which is full of little metaphors and is about treasuring life, the little details matter. My only real arguments (there are two) are a) the absence of Augustus’ dead girlfriend and b) the changing of the last few lines. Those were done with so much intention that to change them was very Not Good.
STOP RIGHT HERE! If you have not read or watched TFIOS, stop reading. Spoilers are coming.
The end. I love it. I cried when I read it and I cried when I saw the movie. You can’t change it. It’s so sad and yet it’s so important that Augustus dies when he does because that is real. Just like Hazel loves An Imperial Affliction because it so accurately describes her life with cancer, to the point where it ends in the middle of a sentence, I think that we would not love TFIOS so much unless it accurately reflected life. In life, death doesn’t come when it’s convenient. Death comes before we’re ready. That it’s Augustus that dies ties up Hazel’s loose end about what will happen to the people she’s going to leave behind. It shows her that life will continue without her. The symbolism in her last words (“I do, Augustus, I do.”) in response to Augustus’ hope that she liked her choice to be with him is beautiful and I love what it says about the way we choose to love someone. In our culture today we so often choose to love superficially but the allusion to a marriage in the last words shows that Hazel chose to love Augustus completely and to dedicate her short life to him. For me, this is an example of what love and marriage is supposed to be about.
All together, a great story. Funny, sad, insightful. Deep. It doesn’t just have some deep quotes, the entire book is like a well of human thought and emotion. Everything in it seems meaningful. You come out of it feeling like you’ve lived a bit more. John Green has made Hazel’s life so real and made Hazel so human, that you can’t help but relate to her. Well done, sir.