Strumming heart-chords everywhere.
Where the film devastated me, the book completely annihilated me.
I nearly wasn’t going to read or watch anything to do with John Green’s creation, mainly due to the fact I’m easily reduced to a blubbering mess for days in stories like this; and sense-memory of my own battle with the big ‘C.’ But as evident of this review I finally caved – and true to form, was not fit for public appearances for at least two days.
I loved how the book gave the reader glimpses into how undiscriminating cancer is, how it steals your dignity, and how moments of despair and resolve wash over you. The movie interpretation doesn’t do this as successfully though – it was too ‘pretty.’ Sick people really don’t look as pleasing as Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort (who play Hazel and Gus respectively.) It was a heart-warming love story though, and if the reality of their situations were laid bare in technicolour, I don’t think many would watch it. So, a sanitised version for the big screen is something I’m prepared to overlook.
Going into the book without expectations, and not trying to anticipate the plot let me revel in the beauty of Hazel and Gus. See the determination and will to experience life through their eyes. You also get a sense of this in the film, but it is not as prominent. Where the book has layers about love, life, survival, death, significance/insignificance (and I could list ten more) the movie was essentially a romance. So while I enjoyed both, the delicate undertones and meaning of John Greens’ writing did not translate well to the big screen.
So too did I feel the characters were a less sparkly version for the screen: where Hazel was quiet and strong and Gus was devilishly cheeky and debonair, even though both actors imbued the characters with these traits, they were so much stronger in the novel.
Both are in my top favourites and I urge you to read the book before watching the film – be warned: the story may destroy relationships for you forever. Gus is a hard guy to live up to.
And it’s the novel for the win… okay? Okay!
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