The Fault In Our Stars: An Unromantic’s Review
Unless you’ve been living under a fangirl rock I am sure you are aware that The Fault in Our Stars movie opens today. The much-anticipated teen romance stars Shailene Woodley as the terminally ill protagonist Hazel Grace Lancaster and Ansel Elgort as her equally as tragic love interest Augustus Waters, both of whom the teen-fiction obsessed will know from the recent movie adaptation of Divergent. The plot is already widely known as the film is also a book-to-movie adaptation. The novel of the same name was written by popular YA author John Green and released in early 2012. Within a year it had become a phenomenon, having already sold over 1 million copies. Everyone had read it or planned on reading it…everyone except me.
This is the story of how I gave up my stubborn refusal to read The Fault in Our Stars and jumped on the bandwagon at the absolute last second before the motion picture release.
First, let me explain why I didn’t read it immediately. It is not that I am above trends. I am far from the type of person who refuses to do something because everyone is doing it. I do what I want to do, whether it’s popular or not doesn’t factor into the equation. That being said, I am a fangirl to the core. When a new fandom is forming (like the rolling tide of time-and-productivity-killing doom) I naturally become curious. Plus I love a good YA fiction novel. But a story about teen cancer patients falling in love. Nope. Not my scene.
I don’t want to seem insensitive. I know the struggle with cancer and other serious illnesses is a horrible, tragic, far too common reality. I feel immensely for those who are, have or will go through this struggle, as well as those who surround them. I also recognize that I can’t even begin to comprehend just how awful and difficult and agonizing the experience really is. The cancer story itself wasn’t what was keeping me from the book; it was the cliché genre of “cancer books.”
When we were teens my sister used to read what we referred to as “Dying People Books.” These novels feature a central character and his/her love interest as the main (and only two truly developed) characters. This pair was young, in love and, by the end of the novel, at least 50% dead. She used to cry and cry at the dreadful star-crossed love story. I used to roll my eyes at a book using obvious ploys to mess with the reader’s emotions. In Hazel’s own words “the cancer person starts a charity that raises money to fight cancer” which “reminds the cancer person of the essential goodness of humanity and makes him/her feel loved and encouraged because s/he will leave a cancer-curing legacy.” It was so predictable and I wanted nothing to do with it.
But The Fault in Our Stars is not a “cancer book.” It is not a “dying people book” despite deaths that may or may not occur between its covers. The Fault in Our Stars is a clever, humorous and far more truthful account of tragic circumstances. It doesn’t glamourize death or gloss over the hard parts. It doesn’t romanticise doomed romance. It just tells the story of two quirky, intelligent and relatable teenagers who happen to be struggling with the worst of conditions. Hazel is a breath of free air in terms of teen heroines. She’s somehow more real than any character I’ve read lately. And Augustus is weird and sweet and funny. He’s the perfect boy (goodness I love him) but still troubled & flawed & believable. The plot is fantastical, yet simple all at once. Their story is one I was hooked on right away, despite being the greatest of cynics…plus it is incredibly quotable!
So if you are like me (hopelessly un-romantic, painfully logical, and with a heart that has been referred to as “made of ice”) here is why you will love this book:
– Venn Diagrams…Seriously, Venn Diagrams. I love nothing more than Venn Diagrams, except perhaps a humorous Venn Diagram…which it has.
– Real life lessons: “The world is not a wish-granting factory”
– A eulogy that features math…MATH!
– Realistic views of life & love: “We’re as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it, and we’re not likely to do either.”
– And just the right amount of mush sprinkled with witty rhetoric: “I feel in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
So if you are at the movie theater tonight awaiting you sure-to-be new favorite movie look for me. I’ll be there ready cry, but also reflect & laugh & relish, my way through this heartrending love story along with everyone else.
Love & Luck,