The past few years have proven that we’re in some kind of golden age for young adult novels. Love it or loathe it, both the novels and the film versions of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight have had an undeniable impact on popular culture in recent years, and have opened the doors for many other teen lit book-to-screen adaptations.
The Hunger Games, The Mortal Instruments, Divergent and The Perks of Being a Wallflower have all proven there’s a huge market out there for this genre, and now comes the turn of introvert favourite – and prominent Youtuber – John Green.
I read his most famous novel The Fault In Our Stars just over a year ago after hearing a lot of buzz about it on blogging site Tumblr. It tells the story of terminally ill Hazel Grace, and Augustus Waters, a boy recovering from thyroid cancer who she meets at a support group. Everyone who read it seemed to be struck by uncontrollable weeping when they read it, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
While I did enjoy the book, and found it moving and funny, it wasn’t really the heart wrenching epic romance I was expecting. It seemed very flawed in parts and though I can’t deny it was sad, I didn’t cry at all.
But thousands upon thousands have and are completely besotted by the book, and for them, this is one of the more faithful adaptations that I’ve seen. Lots of the more well known aspects of the film are included, from the cigarette metaphor (that infuriatingly is not a metaphor at all) to the egg throwing, to the big kiss in the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. I can’t think of anything missing that die hard fans could get too upset by.
And nothing is really changed drastically either. As far as I can remember they don’t actually tell you why it’s called The Fault In Our Stars in the film, but apart from that it’s a pretty spot on take on the novel.
though one thing I did feel it lacked was more development with Hazel’s parents. It’s obviously still sad that they’re facing the prospect of losing their only child in the film, but it feels less in depth here. When reading the book, I found many of the scenes with her Mother and Father as upsetting as the ones featuring Gus, so it would have been had more emotional impact for me if they’d focused on both, instead of primarily just the romance.
The casting of the two young stars in also impressive. Shailene Woodley makes a likable Hazel, but it’s Ansel Elgort who provides the strongest presence. Augustus is a tricky character to portray, because he’s lovely in print, as he’s described as endearingly pretentious and cocky. It would be harder to translate this kind of character on film and make him as likable.
But Ansel is charming and charismatic and though I was doubtful in his first couple of scenes, ultimately delivers a strong and heartbreaking performance.
Weirdly, John Green’s writing itself comes off less favourably on screen. I think that he is a brilliant and clever writer, but some of his more speech-like monologues that sit fine on the page come out a little stilted when actually said aloud. The majority is fine, but there are a few moments that do have a little bit of cringe to them, for instance, the oblivion and the grenade lines of dialogue don’t work quite so well.
All that said, both the novel and the film are enjoyable if, in my eyes, a tiny bit overrated. But they have such a huge fan base behind them and have already made an enormous amount of money (so much that two other John Green novels have already been snapped up to be adapted, including what is in my book the far superior Looking For Alaska, which seems strangely under-appreciated) that that doesn’t matter.
And when all’s said and done, people wanted a tearjerker, and judging from the sniffs emitting from the cinema when I’d finished my viewing, that is definitely what they got.