[Duh. Spoilers for both the movie and book version of The Fault in Our Stars follow]
Is everyone okay?
Was your theater a mess? Do you plan on making a return trip and sobbing some more? There’s plenty to discuss about The Fault in Our Stars film; this post is for those of you that devoured the book at some point during the past two and a half years, not those whose first exposure to Hazel and Gus was a (really great) Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort.
As any fan who has read beloved novels like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Hunger Games knows, when Hollywood gets a hold of “your” book, it can be scary. Thank goodness we’re not having an OMG THEY CHANGED THE ENDING ENTIRELY discussion right now. But even for adaptations that are well received, there’s always some book purists who are disappointed that a certain scene or line didn’t make the cut.
Let’s break down the biggest changes in Stars’ book-to-movie transition below – with the note that, wow, was this movie true to the source material/original fans. In fact, I think it may be one of the most – if not the most – faithful adaptations of a novel I’ve ever seen. Heck, even most of John Green’s specific narration (“I fell in love with him the way you fall asleep: Slowly, then all at once”) made it through. More positive: For myself at least, both the character of Peter Van Houten and the scene at the Anne Frank House rang truer on the screen than on the page… and Laura Dern did an excellent job of smashing my heart into a million little pieces, putting it back together, and then crushing it all over again.
After viewing the movie, here are some departures from the book that immediately came to my mind:
1.) No former girlfriend for Augustus. In the book, Augustus had a girlfriend (who died) before Hazel, and he explains how cancer destroyed the kind of person she was. While I get why it was cut, I liked it in the novel because it established that Hazel wasn’t his first girlfriend, and – while Hazel and Augustus certainly don’t need any kind of reality check about how horrible cancer is – I think it was one of the more grounding parts of the book, explaining something many people are fortunate enough to not know a lot about. It’s also a crack in Augustus’ armor, something that wasn’t as established in the movie.
2.) Hazel is friendless (No Kaitlyn). Another minor character lost to Hollywood. In the novel, Hazel has a friend prior to meeting Augustus. She’s certainly not crucial to the central story, but by showing Hazel as friends with a “popular” girl, I always took it to mean Hazel had a friend-world, despite her other struggles. While she cared about Augustus the most, she did interact with other people her age. (Also: Isaac.)
3.) Augustus’ siblings don’t appear to exist, and his parents barely register. More minor characters lost to Hollywood. Due to the roles’ more limited nature, we also don’t hear the fight between Augustus and his parents prior to going to Amsterdam (instead, Augustus picks up Hazel in a limo), which had the effect of making Augustus’ big death revelation to Hazel feel even more abrupt.
4.) No last-minute Case of the Missing Letter. In the movie, after Augustus’ death, Peter Van Houten simply hands Hazel the letter after the funeral, as opposed to the long chase Hazel goes through in the book to track it down.
5.) Augustus’ breakdown is shortened. While viewers certainly see Augustus struggle on screen, his breakdown as he gets sicker in the film is mostly just the one scene at the gas station – not the continuing onslaught of struggle (because John Green is a possible monster?!) readers witnessed in the novel.
By the way, that last one is a change I’m more than okay with.