I recently finally got around to reading John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars which is currently in production for becoming a movie. Fun times amirite? One of my favourite books is going to be brought to the big screen for everyone to share! Well, not so much.
Let’s just establish something; I strongly think you should read this book. It is incredible, philosophical, deep, emotional, funny and absolutely heartbreaking. It’s incredibly easy to read but hard to stomach, a mix of melancholy desperation and depression, with scatterings of existential hope. Overall, in the end it made me realise my fragility and human-ness.
A movie has never produced a paragraph from me with quite so many adjectives as that paragraph.
I also recently went and saw The Great Gatsby. It was pretty well made and had some resonance but I didn’t cry or think deeply about it afterward. Whenever I brought it up with anyone who has read the book they would loudly proclaim its sacrilege, jump on the nearest high object, stare into the sky as if facing a giant and verbally rip the giant’s leg hairs out.
But this is no surprise. It happens to almost any book that has been made into a movie. The only exceptions I’ve seen are Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. People would still claim the book is better (as if trawling through the billion pages of each series was an achievement that deserved some recognition) but it never got the hazing I have seen for The Great Gatsby. Why is this?
This brings us back to The Fault in Our Stars; the thing that makes this book so good is that it is perfectly balanced. The plot is based around two cancer struck teenagers who fall in love and go to Amsterdam. On reading that sentence I’ve probably turned you off the book entirely, because to be honest, it seems a little predictable and dry. The brilliant things are that firstly, it isn’t predictable from a conceptual standpoint, and secondly, it is incredibly emotionally involving and philosophically deep. I ended up loving the characters and their little world so much that seeing the book end as it did left me as some would say “in a bit of a state”.
To get to the point, I don’t want it to be a movie. I love the pictures of the main characters I’ve constructed for myself, I love what their relationships and illness and successes and weaknesses meant to me. John Green composed the complexities of these things and the harshness of the story with such craft and skill it didn’t feel like the story I described before, it felt more real and raw than life itself at times.
But that is the power of well written books; they allow you to produce your own emotions and construct your own world for the main characters. A movie will never do that for me. It may be well and good for Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings but it won’t work with The Fault in Our Stars. Before someone tries to cast a spell on me or cut my head off, the former two are emotionally involved, but they are mainly story driven, not character driven. A movie of The Fault in Our Stars won’t be balanced perfectly like the book; it is impossible with a Hollywood schedule and human actors.
I don’t want to see the movie if it is made. In this awful selfish way, I don’t want it to be made because I don’t want people to see it en-mass. I don’t want to hear people talk about the main characters like they understand them like I do.
Some books just shouldn’t be made into movies. It’s almost an accepted progression that good books become movies, as if movies are the superior form of storytelling that books need to aspire to; but that shouldn’t be the case. The Fault in Our Stars is precious to me and all those who have read it and understood its existential resonance. I don’t want to see that ruined.