The Fault in Our Stars

The_Fault_in_Our_StarsTonight I watched the movie adaptation of the wonderful book by John Green, The Fault in Our StarsThe 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?

4 thoughts on “The Fault in Our Stars”

  1. It’s neat that you went to the early showing. I felt that being the 30 year old black guy by myself would have made me feel really out of place, but at the same time I am a huge fan of John Green.

    Are sad books the best books? There is something about pain that makes us appreciate what we’ve got. I’m not sure if they’re the best, but they can definitely be excellent.

    Reply
    • Dylan: I agree that there is a time and a place for seeing a movie alone–I’ve done it before several times, and my experiences ranged from “I wouldn’t have it any other way” (the final Harry Potter movie) to “that was weird” (some random comedy). For the Fault in Our Stars, there were a few individuals by themselves in the theater, and it actually seemed pretty normal, perhaps due to the personal, emotional content of the movie. I hope you get to see it!

      Reply
  2. I agree with Green’s theory that sad books are able to give something for people to connect with, and think that’s partly why his books have become so popular. Life isn’t always a perfect love story, where everyone lives happily ever after, and his stories tend to echo real life, allowing the characters to seem more real because of their faults and struggles. I’ve always been a supporter of the idea that every now and then a good cry can be beneficial, and each of his books that I’ve read have brought me to tears at some point in the storytelling.

    Reply
    • Sorry Katy, for some reason I missed your comment a few days ago. I think that’s a great assessment of Green’s books. I’m in the middle of Paper Towns right now, and I’ve read all of his other books, so it’s interesting to see some of the patterns he uses. I think The Fault in Our Stars was a big step for him as a writer and storyteller, so I really look forward to his next book.

      Reply

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