I finished reading The Fault In Our Stars at exactly 13:00 today and with tears drying on my glasses, I proceeded to thanking John Green via Twitter for his God-given talent. The tweets that followed later were a series of exclamations and statements of denial resembling that of a drunk person but I'm fine now. I think.
The Fault In Our Stars depicts the life of 16 year old Hazel Grace Lancaster who suffers from terminal cancer and meets Augustus Waters at Cancer Kids Support Group in a delicious plot twist. She isn't depressed that she is dying. Rather, she lives to remind us that we all live to impress the universe before we die but it is actually the universe that wants to be noticed. This book will make you laugh, cry and then come back for more. Check out my review below.
***Disclaimer: The following review might blur the lines between fiction and reality but I don't care. My English lecturers are not reading this.***
I've heard SO much about this book that I was frightened that I would hate it. I'm someone who doesn't like spoilers and although I've seen the actors who play Augustus and Hazel plastered on buses and underground stations (and in the Divergent movie), I tried to forget their faces whilst reading this (with varying degrees of success). I admit, I found the opening of The Fault In Our Stars a little boring because it was how I would expect a typical cancer story to open: Hazel attending a cancer support group. But then Augustus' character was introduced and they both shared a very witty conversation about Jesus and young love and cigarettes and I instantly knew I would enjoy this.
In fact besides the opening, I don't think I can fault this book in any way. The writing isn't perfect but that didn't matter with this book. I was thrown away by the simplicity of the plot, the dynamic between the characters and the sheer intellect Augustus and Hazel exhibit. As I was reading, I folded the corners of pages which particularly stuck out for me and I figured the only way that I could do justice to John Green is to quote from his masterpiece.
'Everyone in this tale has a rock-solid hamartia: hers, that she is so sick; yours, that you are so well. Were she better or you sicker, then the stars would not be so terribly crossed, but it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he has Cassius note, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in our selves." '
I absolutely loved this analogy in the letter which an author sends to Augustus. Not only does it refer to the title of the book but it also includes one of my favourite quotes from Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar. I studied it this year at university and it's interesting how I agreed then that indeed it is man's fault for the hamartia (fatal flaw) that befall upon him, not some twisted fate. But when reading The Fault In Our Stars, I shook my head furiously whenever Augustus or Isaac (his friend) beat themselves up about their illnesses because it was pre-destined by a power superior to them.
'"When the scientists of the future show up at my house with robot eyes and they tell me to try them on, I will tell the scientists to screw off, because I do not want to see a world without him."'
Again, another beautiful quote. This is from Isaac's eulogy for Augustus and was what did it for me before I started crying. My heart was aching already when I discovered the truth about Augustus seven chapters before but the way Isaac delivered his speech was heartbreaking. He would state how Augustus talked so much or was so vain about his looks but the fact was that those attributes made him a beautiful person. John Green is fantastic at depicting a sad scene whilst effortlessly injecting humour so that you're bawling your eyes out and choking on the tears simultaneously. I know, I looked a right mess.
Also, the book was structured really beautifully. After a certain character's death, I felt as though John Green would conclude the story with, 'My old man. He always knew just what to say.' However I was surprised (and also not surprised) that he continued depicting Hazel's life for another three chapters because I thought he would perhaps mirror the fictional author in the story who didn't finish his story An Imperial Affliction. But then again, I wasn't surprised because in doing so, John Green is demonstrating how people die and others continue living. That is one of Hazel's concerns, that her parents will give up living when she eventually dies and this is where my final quote stems from:
'"I am dying, Mom. I am going to die and leave you here alone and you won't have a me to hover around and you won't be a mother anymore, and I'm sorry, but I can't do anything about it, okay?!"'
This was the second scene to make me a cry again because it reveals how frustrated Hazel is about the impact her death will have on her parents. It was amazing to read that because while she has every right to care about herself, her character isn't self-absorbed with her cancer. I haven't read many cancer stories but I once read a YA book on self-harming called Red Tears and it was just awful and pathetic.
This was the first book I have ever read of John Green's and I'm so happy that it was everything I expected it to be. It's not a typical YA book consisting of action and supernatural elements but its unique in it's own way. Less things happen in this book yet I still managed to finish it in two sittings within 24 hours so that's a clear indication of its flowing narrative. And to simply call it a 'cancer story' is unfair because Hazel exists to resist the stereotypes cancer patients burden themselves or are burdened with. She believes that cancer is merely a side effect of dying and that it is up to the universe who dies and in what way. The fault in Hazel and Augustus' stars is that their fates are reversed and the universe is responsible for such elegance. Her self reflection and discoveries were such inspiring lessons for me and I will leave you with my favourite one:
'"Sometimes it seems the universe wants to be noticed."'
***Have you read The Fault In Our Stars? What's your favourite line? Let me know in the comments below.***
Okay, so I watched the movie last night and I'm emotional all over again! I loved the adaptation directed by Josh Boone. He is one lucky guy to have been able to work with the likes of Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort and Nat Wollf who play Hazel Grace, Augustus Waters and Isaac respectively. Not because they're such famous actors but because they bring a level of fresh acting to the screen. I'm going to list the highlights of this movie and also some things I wish Josh Boone had avoided doing or brought from the book.
1) Hazel and Augustus don't stop smiling! - I swear, I couldn't stop grinning throughout the first half of the movie. The chemistry between the two lead characters was even better in the movie. Their dialogue felt very natural and awkward at the same time because the two played off each other very well but it was also very cute to watch moments where Augustus asked Hazel to watch a movie and she didn't hear so she said 'what?' to which he replied 'hmm?' Awrh! (Also, who agrees that Augustus' grin is heartbreaking? I do!)Totally agreed with Hazel's mum when she said the two 'are so adorable' because it really was hilarious watching their relationship blossom from friends to star-crossed lovers.
2) The extra features on the movie screen - I loved how Josh Boone visibly displays Augustus and Hazel's text conversations on the screen in a similar font to the one on the book cover. This movie was basically about a girl and her iphone which I found hilarious because that's me and my instagram account! >.<
3) The correct moments/quotes were adapted - The first conversation between Augustus and Hazel about his cigarettes and Monica and Isaac's relationship were perfectly portrayed. Their conversation about An Imperial Affliction was also spot on and if possible even more awkward since Isaac's tantrum over Monica's breakup acted as the backdrop. Amsterdam was beautifully portrayed and it's now one of my top five places to visit in Europe. Also, I'm very happy that the quotes about infinity, Isaac's eyes, oblivion, Augustus' cigarettes, not being a mother were perfectly expressed because they make the movie.
1) I want a FAT Peter Van Houten and other things! - Having praised Josh Boone's loyalty to John Green's book, there are some moments which I really really really wish he would have included but didn't. Biggest thing (and silliest) which peeved me off was that Peter Van Houten was not a fat guy. Don't get me wrong, I liked Willem Dafoe in Spider Man and he sure looked ugly and was ridiculous in the movie but he just wasn't fat! Also, I missed when Hazel's dad says that 'sometimes the universe wants to be noticed'. :'(
2) I didn't cry as much - I know this is a silly thing to want but after blubbering when I read the book, I expected the same from the movie. I've already mentioned above the two moments in the book which made me cry but I felt that Isaac's eulogy scene was shortened too much and Hazel's scene with her parents should have been after Augustus' death like in the book. That way, Hazel's frustration about the impact her death will have on those around her is further emphasised because Augustus' death wrecked her. However, I did have tears forming ever since Augustus' secret was revealed and they eventually fell as she read his eulogy for her.
I can't come up with anything else bad about the movie. It was a very good adaptation: witty, hilarious, sweet, awkward, inspiring and heart breaking. I fan-girled for a few hours after on instagram and am officially an Ansel Elgort fan. Shailene Woodley did another stellar performance as usual and she's my ultimate girl crush.
Until next time peeps. X