After my many months of blogging (eleven now, thank you very much; The Literary Connoisseur's first birthday in next month), I've done blog post after blog post about books. Whether it's reviews, teasers, cover reveals, release day blitzes, book-related products, interviews, or the odd occasion when I review a series in one blog post, it's always about books. Well this time I haven't strayed far, but I've wandered from the path enough to venture into a movie blog post. But not just any movie, the well-anticipated adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
So let me start this long, emotional story-telling of my infatuation with John Green's works and how I first came upon The Fault in Our Stars.
After hearing my friends talk about the book ("Has anyone read John Green's latest novel yet??"), and after I had seen many, many copies of it in Books-A-Million, I picked up a new copy of Entertainment Weekly (my favorite magazine, mainly because they have the BEST book-to-movie adaptation covers) and flipped to my favorite page, the Bullseye. In the center of the Bullseye was (and I'm paraphrasing here) "The Fault in Our Stars by John Green has a movie deal already. Please Hollywood, don't screw this one up."
So, even before I started the book (over two years ago) I knew it was going to be turned into a movie.
But that didn't sully my opinion of the book, or sway me in any way. I knew that if my non-reader friends, my reader friends (whose opinions I trust greatly), and Entertainment Weekly recommended it, it was a must-read. Plus there were limited-edition signed copies at the bookstore. All signs pointed to me spending the $17.99 for this book.
I read it. I cried, laughed, cried and laughed some more, and immediately dubbed John Green one of my all-time favorite authors. Soon after that, I ate through Looking For Alaska, Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines, and Will Grayson Will Grayson, and bumped John Green to my second favorite author of all-time (right under J.K. Rowling). He remains in that place to this day. (If you're interested in reading more of John Green's work, I suggest reading his novels in the same order I read them- from saddest to funniest.)
When the cast of The Fault in Our Stars was set, when John Green started Tweeting about the movie process, and when the buzz started going around that, "Yes, these fangirls AREN'T over-reacting, it IS a really good book, and John Green really IS an amazing author!" I couldn't contain my excitement any longer. It looked promising, John Green himself O.K.ed it (he admitted to crying a few times as well), the cast seemed perfect, and they were going to great lengths to make sure this movie lived up to its creator's, its fans', and its future fans' standards. I was ready to see how well they did.
Fast-forward to say, oh, three days ago, when the movie was released. Word was slowly trickling in from friends that is was beautiful and breathtaking. "It was so heartbreaking. So beautiful, so sad, but oh-so beautiful!" Talk about the book was coming in faster and faster as days went by.
I chose to see it a few days after it came out. After years and years of Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, and many other midnight releases, I was getting tired in my old age (ha-ha). I started to prefer an earlier time, when there was less of a chance of screaming teenage girls (and the boyfriends they dragged there) and more of a chance of older folks who need those headsets that heighten the sound on the already ear-drum bursting audio. I decided to go Sunday morning, the day the daycare was bringing bus-loads of kids to Despicable Me 2, instead of The Fault in Our Stars.
Sunday morning was definitely safe. And I was right!
Besides my party, there were only about eight other people in the theater for this beautiful movie. It was quiet. Nobody was kicking my seat, or answering phone calls, or rattling popcorn, or anything else that would distract me. It was almost as if everyone respected this story and knew beforehand that making loud noises during sentimental parts would be rough on everyone.
I was okay (even now my eyes get teary from typing that word) until about a quarter of the way through. I started tearing up, wiping away cascading tears as they fell down my cheeks, and quietly sniffling. But then...oh, but then I got to the part I was dreading. The part that I knew was coming because I had read the book and it was burned into my brain.
Which makes me think about the difference between a fan attending the movie and knowing what was going to happen, and a not-yet fan, who is experiencing it for the first time. And I wonder, who is it harder on? The unsuspecting movie-goer who heard about this heart-wrenching story from a co-worker, friend, or loved one? Or the die-hard fan, who has read and reread the story so many times they can almost time what is going to happen when?
As a member of the latter group, I would have to say it's us. We try to "prepare" ourselves, knowing that the scene that makes us cry hardest in the book is soon coming up. But that "preparation" inevitably makes us cry harder, weep longer, and sob until are eyes are raw.
This is what happened to me. And, I must say, this is what I recommend: Read the book, "prepare" yourself, and go see the movie. It's heartbreaking, it'll make you question life and why any God or author (thanks, John Green) would put us through this pain, and it'll make you cry your eyes out until you get a crying headache. But it is the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced.
This story... It's so gorgeous, so unique, and so- well- metaphorical, it's truly mind-blowing. There's not anything like it; John Green's book The Fault in Our Stars is pure magic.
The Fault in Our Stars will always be my favorite novel. It is beautiful beyond words.
I'm very thrilled, and very proud to say that the movie did the book justice. The acting was remarkable. Shailene Woodley was so emotional, she was incredibly convincing as Hazel (her acting broke my heart and added a new level of hurt to the pain I felt for Hazel originally), and she's just so beautiful! She was innocent, sweet, and hilarious, just like Hazel. Ansel Elgort... Words cannot express how his acting impacted the story. This is not a spoiler, but in the book and in the movie, Augustus is so strong and so steady for Hazel (and the readers/watchers since you're reading/watching it from Hazel's perspective), that when he crumbles, WE crumble. The sadness and the inevitable feel of oblivion crashes down upon you after you've been holding it in for so long.
When I read The Fault in Our Stars and heard (again) that it was becoming a movie, I thought, "Oh gosh, no one can play Augustus Waters. He is too good to be true. No one could ever successfully portray him in a movie."
Ansel Elgort WAS Augustus. No one could have done a better job than him. Unless of course Augustus came to life and acted in his own version of the movie (and even then, I think he would still have a strong resemblance to Ansel Elgort). Our star-crossed lovers and two main characters aside, everyone else in the cast was positively perfect. Hazel's parents (our very own Sam from True Blood plays Hazel's father), Isaac (another character and story that had me rambling and gushing out incomprehensible words through tears on the ride home), Lidewij, and the very enigmatic and cranky Peter Van Houten were all absolutely bellissimo!
This is a movie you'll be thinking about, and talking about for a long time.
Even if you're not a reader, see the movie anyway. You will gain a lot from it regardless of whether you read the book or not (and you know how adamant I am when it comes to reading the book before you see the movie...YOU ALWAYS READ THE BOOK FIRST). But if you're not a reader per se, see the movie anyway. It's truly truly incredible.
I approve of the book-to-movie adaptation 100%. It was perfect, and I loved it dearly, but due to my state of emotional wreckage right now (it didn't help that two saddest episodes of Doctor Who, in my opinion, are on today), I won't be seeing the movie again anytime soon. Perhaps I will when the DVD comes out. Then I can sob in the comfort of my own home without patrons walking into Cinemaworld and saying, "Oh no! Look at her face, I KNEW it was going to make me cry!" (which actually happened, but I didn't mind it because in its own pathetic way it's a selling point).
So after reading a book review about three times the size of my normal book reviews, I bet you're wondering why I haven't in detail described the plot of The Fault in Our Stars. Well, let me tell you why.
1) I'm sure most of you already know.
2) Every time I recommend the book to someone, I say, "Do not go into this experience knowing the plot, and therefore creating some pre-conceived notions. Read it (or watch it now) without knowing the plot, and accept it for what it is. Enjoy it for what it is." Don't not watch it or not read it because it's sad, or because the plot is depressing, or because you're afraid of crying, or because you've heard so much about it. Read it or watch it anyway. It's worth it, and you should never judge a book by its cover or by what you've heard about it. You wouldn't judge a person that way, so why would you judge a book?
So, long story cut (decently) short, read the book, see the movie, do whatever you can to immerse yourself in the beautiful story. It's life-changing, inspiring, sweet, sentimental, mind-blowing, and it'll have you appreciating the little things in life.
Embrace the infinities in your life and the lives and those you love. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.
If you'd like to buy the book before you see the movie...