The Fault in Our Stars: Is the book always better?

The Fault in Our Stars has piqued the public’s interest once again this summer, continuing the book’s initial huge success with the movie adaptation on June 6th. A welcome twist on the typical high school love story, this franchise is without a doubt wildly relatable, and pretty cute at times too. There are of course fluffy teen romance moments that have been known to make girls swoon and smile as they read… but there are other factors that made this book a little different than your run of the mill young adult novel. It is raw, and honest, and it cut deep when John Green wants to evoke a certain feeling. Things are not sugarcoated, and the protagonists blessedly even point out when their peers did paint things in shades of happy rather than facing reality. Reading something that does not tiptoe around messy subjects is truly a breath of fresh air.

Considering how much hype surrounds The Fault in Our Stars, it would have been hard for Green’s writing to live up to the astounding praise of his young readers. After assessing the book critically, he unfortunately couldn’t. While this wasn’t a terrible or boring read by any means, so many aspects of The Fault in Our Stars are lacking. The main point of the storyline (Hazel and Augustus’ love) came out of nowhere. There just needed to be some kind of build up or explanation, something to back up their relationship. Not only was the supposed focus blurry, he characters were all relatively flat and had very little substance other than their illnesses. Connecting to them proved to be especially difficult. You can’t make a character’s entire personality revolve around their condition without feeling a detachment from them, and in the end that is where Green failed. Many of his metaphors were nice, but some didn’t quite hit the mark and ultimately just sounded wordy or–to be quite blunt–stupid. Naturally, people tend to focus more on the subject matter and lose sight of how structurally unsound this book is. But the plot was missing a certain depth that could have been achieved with the ideas presented to the reader.

The movie adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars had a bigger emotional impact than the book. Producers stuck to Green’s story pretty well, which pleased most people. After all, it is nice to see scenes you’ve imagined in your head come to life so acutely. The actors really made the story shine though, and in a big way. Almost everything about it was better, because it was more intense. The acting was great and the casting was impeccable, resulting in a revival of some originally bland roles.

A few characters were cut out of the movie, presumably a necessary evil. But a completely unnecessary evil was cutting out the explicit details of Gus’s health decline. It looked like they purposely avoided describing his struggle, which is infuriating. It was such a huge part of the book, and it wasn’t done justice by any means.
Nice sentiments and tear jerking plot twists are good components for stories that resonate, and The Fault in Our Stars didn’t miss a beat on that front. It just would have been nice to see the brilliant potential of the book be fulfilled. What a shame to say the movie was far better than the book.

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