“The Fault in Our Stars” is one of my favorite books. I had a roommate let me read her copy of the book when I was in college and I was hooked. Shortly after I finished the book, the movie was released and my now husband (fiance at the time) took me to see the movie. Probably should have given him fair warning about that one scene in Amsterdam, but he did like the movie. And now, I’ve gotten him to read the book. So, big win there.
Anyways, if you haven’t read it or seen it or don’t know much about it, it’s about a girl named Hazel who is 16 and has terminal lung cancer. One of her doctors suggested that she attend a support group for those who have dealt with cancer. While there, she (kind of) becomes friends with a guy named Isaac and then later meets his friend Augustus Waters. Hazel and Augustus start hanging out and end up falling in love (against Hazel’s wishes).
Gus reads “An Imperial Affliction” (AIA) by Peter Van Houten at Hazel’s recommendation (as it’s her favorite book) and also falls in love with it. As a result, they both want to know what happens after the book ends (we all have those questions, right?). So, Gus comes up with a plan to use his Wish from the Genies (similar to Make A Wish) so that they can fly to Amsterdam and meet Peter Van Houten so they can find out what happens when AIA ends. After a scare from Hazel’s lungs and some convincing to her doctors, they finally get to make the trip to Amsterdam.
While there, they have fun exploring the city and really end up falling in love. They have a bad experience with Peter, who is too drunk and out of it to really be a good host (and doesn’t get better either). As a way to make amends, Peter’s assistant takes Hazel and Gus to the Anne Frank House so they can have at least one good experience from the day.
The day before they are supposed to head back home, Gus takes Hazel aside and gives her some bad news. Up to this point, he had been cancer free for a year or so, but then before they left, he had a pain in his hip and went to go check it out and he found out that his whole body had cancer. He had even had an argument with his mom right before they left for Amsterdam about how he wanted to do what he could before he wasn’t able to anymore (which I really wish was in the movie!!!!). And then when they get back home he starts treatment to try and get rid of the cancer.
Skipping ahead a bit, after Gus dies (Spoiler), Hazel finds out that he wrote something which she thinks might be for her as he had promised to write an ending to AIA as they couldn’t get one out of Van Houten since he was too drunk to even care. So she does all that she can to try and find it to figure out what it is. After not being able to find it at his house or at the church where the Support Group was held, she realizes that he might have sent it to Van Houten. Hazel emails Peter’s former assistant (she quit after how he treated Hazel and Gus) to see if she can figure out what it was Gus sent to him and if she could send it to her.
After she gets Gus’s letter to Van Houten, she realizes that it’s a eulogy that Gus had written for Hazel and he sent it to Peter so he could edit it and add on to it or something. At the end of the letter, Gus says that he hopes that Hazel is happy with the choices that she’s made with her life and she says that she is and the book ends.
With this book to movie adaptation, I was decently impressed with how well they kept it close to the book. Now, obviously, there’s people and experiences that they left out that should have been left in (i.e. “But you don’t have my number” “I strongly suspect that you wrote it in the front of this book.” which also should have been left in to explain HOW they had each other’s numbers in the first place instead of just showing Hazel waiting around for Gus to call/text without explaining how/when they exchanged numbers), but overall, it’s still pretty close. And I also love how they chose Willem Dafoe to play Van Houten. Even though Van Houten is supposed to be a fat person, Defoe really gets the personality and reactions down perfectly. All of the cast was chosen pretty perfectly overall.
I do wish that they had focused on Hazel and Isaac’s relationship a little more. In the books, they become pretty good friends and Hazel visits him in the hospital after he has his eye removed and becomes totally blind and they have a little back and forth about hospital nurses. They even play a video game one time after Gus’s funeral. Whereas in the movie, they only spend time together for like four or five scenes. I know the main focus is supposed to be on Hazel and Gus, but the movie makes it seem like they are really only friends because of Gus.
Speaking of friends, I do wish that they had mentioned Kaitlyn a little bit. If you’ve only seen the movie and haven’t read the book, Kaitlyn is one of Hazel’s high school friends/acquaintances that she still keeps in touch with and occasionally hangs out with. She is very boy crazy and wants to be British. There’s a scene in the book where Hazel and Kaitlyn hang out at the mall for Hazel’s half birthday. Hazel also calls her later on to ask for advice about Gus since she’s kind of starting to fall for him. So, unlike in the movie (at least until Gus comes along), she’s not completely friendless. I’m not saying that they had to put her in the movie, but at least mention her a little bit.
Like I mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of witty humor and banter that gets left out of the movie. One example being when Gus drops Hazel off at her house after they hang out the first time and she makes the comment about his phone number being in the book. Later, when Gus comes home from the hospital after his G-tube gets infected, Hazel visits him with his whole family at the house. They go outside and Gus makes a comment about his body to one of his brothers-in-law about how it took Hazel breath away and Hazel and Gus go back and forth about how it also made Isaac blind. And, like I mentioned in the Isaac paragraph, when Hazel visits Isaac in the hospital after his surgery, there’s a nurse that is changing his bandages and they make a comment about how “he’ll see that there are better people out there” or that he’ll feel better soon or something like that. After the nurse leaves, they come up with a list of qualities that make a good nurse. There’s even some banter between Hazel and her parents. This helps make the characters more relatable and likeable.
Overall, I really do like the book and the movie. The book is good for when you want something to go to that is familiar and has characters that you like and that can make you laugh over and over and the movie is good for when you need a movie for a girls night or you’re feeling emotional and need something to cry to. The book is also awesome since it’s so popular and a lot of people have read it so you become part of a big community and you can almost always find someone else who has read the book that you can talk to about it. Plus, the author has created a larger community on YouTube to reach out to more people. “The Fault In Our Stars,” definitely receives a good recommendation from me and it’s a book that you should read if you like teen romance, travel, real life, and good humor.