Tonight I watched the movie adaptation of the wonderful book by John Green, The Fault in Our Stars. The movie officially comes out tomorrow, but there was an advanced screening tonight, so I figured, why not?
Actually, I did have one hesitation: The Fault in Our Stars is about teenagers and is read widely by teenagers (over 10 million copies have been sold worldwide), so I was a little worried that the theater would be filled with kids who were going to sneer at some of the more serious aspects of the film.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only were the teenagers (who filled the theater) respectful, but they were openly emotional. They laughed at the funny parts and cried at the sad parts. This might have been the first movie I’ve attended when a number of people wept openly. It was rather remarkable. Perhaps teens are more mature now than when I was that age.
I’ve read Green’s perspective on why teens connect with the book, and I really like his responses. Here’s a sampling:
“I think the key to being relatable to teenagers is talking to them as if they were human beings instead of as if they’re cool teens or something. If you’re open and authentic with teenagers they tend to respond pretty respectfully and really intelligently.”
“There’s nothing particularly hip about ‘The Fault in Our Stars,’” he said. “But I think what teens respond to is the unironized emotion and the experience of falling in love and grappling with loss and trying to answer those big questions about meaning.”
I couldn’t find the quote, but at some point I read an interview with Green where he talked about how people connect with sad stories. It seemed unintuitive to me–why would people seek out sad stories over happy ones?–and yet the power and popularity of his novels are a testament to that idea. (It made me think for a moment if I should make a sad board game, as I’m always trying to tell stories with my games, but I’m not quite sure it would work in that medium.)
Do you concur with that theory? Are sad books the best books?