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The Book and The Movie: The Fault in Our Stars

Hello, everyone! So I wrote this post a really long time ago and forgot I never posted it! I was looking for my review of The Fault In Our Stars to link it to my Turtles All The Way Down review (coming Wednesday) when I realized it didn't exist. Oops. Better late than never, I guess. I've explained below how this post is a bit different than my standard review, and I hope you all enjoy it!
For this new series of posts (The Book and The Movie), I wanted to share my thoughts on YA books and their companion movies. I named it The Book and The Movie because I understand that these are two separate works of artistic expression that both have different strengths along with different needs. It is inevitable that because the craft is different the result will be different. By the same token, a movie has a promise to the viewer when its story is lended from a book (and often beloved ones at that). So, of course, I structure my reviews for this column as a book review and then how the movie stacked up to the expectation. While I'm partial to reading, if done well, there's nothing better than getting another chance to experience a brilliant story anew. 


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green The Book
Overview: Hazel Grace has terminal cancer. Hazel knows that the only thing that is certain is that they cannot know how long she has to live. Ever since leaving school three years before, she became somewhat of a homebody with a love for never ending marathons of Top Chef and Project Runway and mainly left the house to go to the support group her mother forced her to attend. That is where she meets Augustus. Augustus Waters was supposed to have beat his cancer battle only at the loss of his leg. With a glowing prognosis, Hazel is weary of letting Augustus get too close to her given that she is weary of hurting anymore people when she passes, which is an inevitable fact of Hazel's life. Slowly, their bond, aided by their mutual love and curiosity about An Imperial Affliction, grows and Hazel realizes that falling in love is something that cannot be stopped or controlled, and when she opens herself up to experiencing it she falls for Augustas too. They get to experience dreams with each other that neither thought were possible, but in the end, escaping something they both know is inescapable is not an option. They are left to love each other through thick and thin and living with the fact that just being alive with each other is enough. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 As with any writer who can truly write Green is able to bring a great cast of characters to the plot. Hazel makes a great narrator for the story and keeps the book a story about a boy and a girl who just happen to have cancer. Her voice is sarcastic, hilarious, intelligent, and carries a tone that makes me wish she was my best friend. Augustus is the perfect answer to Hazel but never in a cheesy, too perfect way. The supporting cast plays their roles perfectly adding either grounding or a far fetched dose of whimsy to the story.

Plot: 5 The story serves Hazel Grace's evolution. She grows from accepting her home as her boundary to exploring Amsterdam in search of answers to be book that ended mid sentence. Some parts seemed a bit fantastic to be real, but Green's writing carried a sense of groundedness that made you buy some of the more extraordinary happening and characters.

Writing: 5 Before I get into praising Green's phenomenal writing skills as I did with Paper Towns, let me tell a story. When the book first had its flash of popularity, I was too young to read it, but my mom did. And one day I remember walking into the living room to see her, Kindle in lap, sitting on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, crying. As for any little kid, seeing a parent cry is rather alarming, and she had to explain to me that it was a sad book and not anything I could fix. While, I didn't outwardly cry, the writing moved me both in content and style. For a book that sets in the readers mind it will be sad, solely based on the one definitive thing they know about the narrator from the summary, the book made me smile, laugh, and swoon. It also made me think and contemplate right along with the characters. And I applaud Green for writing with such a purpose and delivering such a brilliant execution.
*Warning: This section of the review contains plot spoilers by necessity to fully discuss the portrayal of the book on film.*
The Fault in Our Stars The Movie (Directed by Josh Boone/ Screenplay by  Scott Neustadter &  Michael H. Weber)
Overall: 4.5 I was astounded by how true the movie was to the book. Having finished the book a few hours before renting the movie, I recognized all the direct quotes from the movie. The most notable omissions and changes were understandable for the most part and felt like great background and extras for the book, but due to time constraints could not be included in the movie. Another random thing: the movie actually made me tear up. While I was very moved by the book, it didn't seem to affect me nearly as much as the movie.

Characters: 4.5 I say this because Shailene Woodly and Ansel Egort did a phenomenal job portraying Hazel and Augustus that I could not bring myself to dock the category too much for some of the other minor characters. I had always pictured Shaiene in my head because of all the promotional advertisements I had seen for the movie, but her ability to bring Hazel Grace, one of my favorite literary characters, to life in an honest way was amazing. Admittedly  I needed a bit more time to get on board with Egort, but once I saw a bit more of him I realized how perfect it really was. The portrayal of Issac was also one I greatly enjoyed. 
Where the parents and doctors are concerned, I was underwhelmed. From the start I sensed something entirely off about Hazel's mother as well as Doctor Maria. These feelings never subsided, and Hazel's mother and any interaction with her felt off, wrong, and forced which was a bummer because her relationship with Hazel is a big part of the book. Augustus's parents are only on screen for maybe five minutes at the most, if that. These people, rightfully, played a large role in the book, but were all but cut out of the movie. I understand time constraints, but the level of exclusion from the movie was wrong. 
The one shining star of the parental cast was Hazel's father. He might have been even better in the movie than he was in the book. I also wanted to note that Kaitlyn does not appear in the movie, which I have no problem with. In the book it is used to draw focus to Hazel's unavoidable disconnect from normal. It works as an extra layer of complexity from the book, but it is not missed on screen.

Plot: 4.4 The story stays quite strictly to the actual plot which I greatly appreciate. While there were some cuts, mostly near the end which only reduced the amount of time we saw Augustus, Issac, and Hazel handing out in the basement, they were reasonable. The only subplots that were left behind were about Hazel and Kaitlyn (which wasn't much in the book anyway) and more development into Augustus's family which was used as a way for Hazel to process the near future mirror in the book. Almost all of the other sections of the book were left in tact. Some scenes were adjusted to accommodate all the meat of the scene just tweaked to match pacing and film elements. I loved that even though they cut the mall scene, Hazel still has the sweet interaction with the little girl who asks her about her oxygen tank (and John Green's cameo made me laugh so hard) which I loved getting to see. 
The other giant thing I loved about this movie, before I get into the one let down, was that they stayed as true as possible to the book. They recognized the amazing story on their hands and set about portraying it for our eyes to experience rather than trying to embellish or change the story. Nothing irritates me more than when writers waste precious time on a random scene that does not serve to represent content or storylines from the book. I have to say this was the best book to film adaption I have ever seen. 
But now for my little disappointment, which is comparatively small to everything they got right. The first thing I questioned them altering was having Augustus appear at the Lancaster house in a limo to go to Amsterdam over having the scene at the Water's front door. I feel these both would have taken up the same amount of time in the movie, but changing that scene meant loosing a crucial piece of foreshadowing that sets up the tone for what is to come. 
My other note was about Augustus's funeral. That whole scene felt rushed. For starters it is held outside, and not for lack of having a heart of Jesus set. Also, the casket is closed meaning that Hazel is deprived of her emotional goodbye that is so touching, and she simply leaves the cigarettes on top of the casket which I find far less moving. Then Van Houten simply hands Hazel Augustus's eulogy. Though Issac is still involved in telling her Gus wrote it, I preferred the other version. I get it: time constraints, but I stand by my opinion. 
I also missed Hazel reading the Facebook wall comments (though I guess we never hear about Augustus's prior girlfriend which was what lead Hazel to explore comment walls in the first place). These scenes are supplemented by Hazel driving and falling apart lying in bed, but there was something about seeing and hearing her read through those in the book that was extra impactful.

Overall, this film adaption gave me little to complain about. I really enjoyed it both as a portrayal of an awesome book and as an independent piece of film. So I can safely say that you can watch the movie without fear of tainting your memory of a lovely book, and, again, my hat goes off to Shailene Woodly for her amazing acting in this film.

Links of Interest:
Week 30 Part 1: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/10/weekly-reviews-and-recommendations-week_11.html
Looking For Alaska: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/07/reviews-and-recommendations-week-16.html
Paper Towns: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/05/weekly-reviews-and-recommendations-week_21.html
An Abundance of Katherines: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/06/weekly-reviews-and-recommendations-week_25.html


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