(Written for Rife)
“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
The Fault In Our Stars is the fifth novel by author John Green. Originally published in 2012, the story follows 16-year-old cancer patient Hazel, who, forced by her parents to attend a cancer support group, meets and subsequently falls in love with the witty 17-year-old Augustus Waters, an ex-basketball player and amputee.
Set to be released on 19th June and starring Shailene Woodley as Hazel and Ansel Elgort as Gus, and directed by Josh Boone, the film adaptation is set to be one of 2014’s most bittersweet romances, exploring the highs and lows of being in love, but more importantly the extravagant highs and frequented lows of being in love and having cancer.
The following post is a review of the book only, looking at how it is going to be adapted. You can read my review of the film adaptation in comparison to the book here.
Told in the first person by Hazel herself, the novel’s narrative style allows the story to feel real, as if it were Hazel’s diary as she documents every moment and thought in her life as a cancer patient, knowing that one day soon will be her last. This also makes Hazel a strong female lead, as we know exactly what’s going through her mind. It’s a fantastic technique used to engage its readers, so it’s no wonder the novel remained The New York Times’ No.1 Best Seller for seven weeks.
But not only is The Fault In Our Stars a compelling character-driven drama, it’s also a very decent romance; there’s no fantasy here, just pure love between two characters who want to give something their all whilst they still have the chance to fight for it. And that’s what you’ve got to love about this novel; there’s true emotion, all of which you will feel along the way, a yearning for accomplishment, and above all, a passionate desire to simply live and love.
There’s a lot of love for story-telling itself, as well, as Hazel and Gus travel to Amsterdam in search for the author of their favourite book, An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten. With these scenes being filmed in Amsterdam for real, this promises some beautiful backdrops to their romance in the adaptation and also an exciting sense of adventure.
With the adaptation directed by Josh Boone, this will only serve as the director’s second feature film. It’s usually first time directors who pick up stories like this one because they already know that there’s a huge fan base eagerly awaiting the adaptation. It’s also a chance for the director to show their audiences how well they can handle characters and their emotions. Boone’s first film was the family drama Stuck in Love, which was released in the UK last year. The film was surprisingly lovely and handled the relationships between various couples and family members incredibly well, which is exactly what is needed with this adaptation. It seems a pretty straightforward book to adapt story-wise, so the only thing that can go wrong is the relationship between Hazel and Gus. We, as an audience, need to see that these two characters love each other uncontrollably, and we also need to be able to feel the rollercoaster of emotions that these characters go through as we watch their story unfold. So as long as Boone handles and develops these two leads characters well enough this should be a pretty strong drama, but you do also have to remember who the target audience is.
Hazel and Gus are set to be played by Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, respectively. The two actors will be most recognised for their recent roles in the first film adaptation of the young adult dystopian trilogy Divergent. I think the two will have a great chemistry together and you can tell from the film’s trailer that they have a lot of fun in each other’s company, but my only worry is that the two play brother and sister in Divergent, so it might be difficult to try to forget their sibling relationship when the two start kissing in this film. But that’s only a small concern.
Woodley, also the lead star of the US TV Series The Secret Life of the American Teenager, came to our attention when she gave an amazing break-out performance as George Clooney’s daughter in 2012’s The Descendants. Elgort, however, is very new to the big screen, and other than Divergent he will only really be recognised for his role in 2013’s remake of the classic horror Carrie.
Hazel’s parents are set to be played by Laura Dern and Sam Trammell, Dern being known for her role in Jurassic Park as well as many of David Lynch’s films, and Trammel known for his role in True Blood.
As for Van Houten, the abrasive alcoholic author is set to be played by Willem Dafoe. I imagined his character to be much older when I was reading the novel, but Dafoe is great and I think he’ll nail the crazy/angry side of Van Houten’s character perfectly.
The Fault In Our Stars is set to be released on on 19th June.