Unlike Romeo and Juliet, star-crossed lovers Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters are not up against family feuds, but the main conflict surrounding them is their disease. Much to Augustus’ dismay, their heroic fight scenes are not filled with “blood and sacrifices,” but a heroic battle against one’s self, against “the cancer thing.”
Shailene Woodley gives life to Hazel Grace Lancaster in the movie version of John Green’s best-selling novel The Fault In Our Stars. Hazel lives her life knowing she can’t get rid of “the cancer thing,” and all the medicine and experiments won't entirely cure her, but can only extend her life.
Diagnosed with stage 4 thyroid cancer that metastasized to her lungs, Hazel, though alive, doesn’t feel like she’s actually living. Especially since her daily life is a routine of drinking medicine, attending a support group, and waging a constant battle with her weakening lungs. But when she meets Augustus Waters, adventures start to fill her days.
Augustus Waters, played by Ansel Elgort, may just be every girl’s ideal guy. He’s the right mix of a nice guy with playboy qualities: a smooth talker who knows how to sweep you off your feet, yet he only has eyes for Hazel Grace.
Augustus is that good-looking boy-next-door whom you can goof around with. He’s a complete package (looks and talent with brains to match) yet not intimidating. He’s romantic but never tacky. He says exactly how he feels (from 'I’m crushing on you' to 'I like you' and finally 'I’m in love with you') out of nowhere without making a person feel uneasy. (Hazel was rather pleased.)
The Fault in Our Stars, according to www.washingtonpost.com, is said to be dedicated to Ester Grace Earl, John Green’s close friend who lost her battle to cancer at the young age of 16. Through Washington Post, Ester’s sister Evangeline Earl wrote, “It’s as if, through Hazel, my sister is able to continue having new experiences. As if she got a sequel.”
This situation is mirrored in TFIOS when Hazel Grace Lancaster realizes that her favorite author Van Houten wrote the book An Imperial Affliction for his own daughter who was afflicted with cancer. Hazel says, “So it’s like you gave her this second life where she got to be a teenager.” She also succintly describes An Imperial Affliction by saying it is written by someone “who seemed to (a) understand what it’s like to be dying, and (b) not have died.”
An Imperial Affliction depicts the story of Anna who is also battling cancer like the author’s daughter, yet stops midway with no clear ending. Augustus and Hazel then begin a journey to find out what happens to the other characters in Hazel’s favorite book.
Although The Fault in Our Stars is not necessarily Ester’s story, the idea of giving someone another life through fiction makes The Fault in Our Stars feel more real, more genuine than any other illness-driven love story. It’s honest and does not downplay the illness, yet shows how the characters do not let cancer define them.
The Fault in Our Stars gives a realistic potrayal of the philosophical teenagers' tragic romance. It goes deeper without losing the reality that Hazel and Augustus are both unwell. The story clearly shows how life does not end for them in the way they value the days even more knowing it might be their last.
Without their sickness, it will be just another teenage love story with a huge possibility of a very happy ending. But without the disease, the two wouldn’t have met as well. The thing that brought them together is the same thing that made them part ways, which is what makes The Fault in Our Stars romantic yet ultimately heartbreaking.
The Fault in Our Stars also offers so many quotable quotes that are either kilig-worthy or downright sentimental. There are also a lot of life lessons within the series of quotes and some pickup lines guys might want to use to woo a girl.
Fans of the book will appreciate how the stars brought life to the scenes and they will recognize how the characters truly feel just by looking at their gazes. In one particular scene, when Hazel was almost out of breath before going inside Augustus’ room, readers could already recall Hazel’s thoughts through the book, when “okay,” may not mean “okay,” but she still tries to be “okay.”
Those who haven’t read the book kept the element of surprise during the heart-breaking ending. It also lets moviegoers see a bigger world after the movie; it gives you something to anticipate once the credits start rolling, hidden emotions that were conveyed through facial expressions will then be given a deeper meaning once moviegoers start flipping the pages of John Green’s book.
Whereas the book had time to build up one particular scene, the movie was much like a “rollercoaster that only goes up,” merging different scenes to build up the next one. Although the movie had to trim down some scenes, they made up for it by turning a simple scene into a grander event. The already thick storyline didn’t need much as the movie’s simplicity highlighted the story’s sincerity.
Deeply touching and utterly moving, The Fault in Our Stars is definitely worth every tear.
Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial staff.