“Do you want to talk about it?” Hazel Grace Lancaster asks a broken Isaac as he cries into his palm, having just been dumped by his wicked girlfriend who couldn’t cope with the idea of dating a blind man.
“No, I just wanna cry and play video games.”
This rather apt response from The Fault In Our Stars‘ Isaac seems a pretty fitting description of today’s generation of teenagers, let alone for Maddie, Eleanor and I. Therefore, it’s no surprise that neither of us hesitated for a second before declaring it the quote of the evening, this “evening” being Valentine’s Day 2017 and, more importantly, the first of our acclaimed “Jar Evenings”. These, in essence, are the most adorable evenings in existence, where the three of us select a film at random from a jar and huddle up in a bundle of radiating affection to watch it. They practically scream friendship goals.
Alas, I digress. I’ve experienced The Fault In Our Stars in more ways than I care to admit. I’ve seen it in multiple cinemas, watched it with a collection of different people with subtitles of varying languages, or (most often) turned off completely. I’ve read John Green’s book more times than you could imagine in more than just English (in Spanish they call it Bajo la misma estrella, or Under the Same Star, which I find rather beautiful). In fact, after reading the novel for the first time (in English), I bawled so much that I had to buy a new copy of the book to replace the one that I ruined. I feel like such a typical teenage girl admitting to all of this, and with that comes a layer of shame; for some reason, The Fault In Our Stars has adopted a negative stigma, becoming synonymous to pathetic girlishness and white trash. Similar to the likes of Justin Bieber and Stephenie Myer’s Twilight, to openly obsess over The Fault In Our Stars is to convict yourself to a life of oppressing criticism from your peers who are clearly superior to you in terms of interests.
But it shouldn’t be.
Admittedly, I was slightly put off by the overwhelming hype that both the bestselling novel and the award-winning film received on release. It was terrifying, like a huge roaring beast forcing you to spend your money or else it will murder everybody you love. Eventually, though, I gave in to this pressure, and by God it was worth it!
The Fault In Our Stars is a great film. It is an epic tale of, as Augustus loves so very much in a narrative, sacrifice. It is a love story, utterly romantic to the very core, displaying the sheer levels one will go to in the name of love. As Mr. Lancaster (rather suggestively) tells Gus, “she [Hazel] can’t keep up”, but that didn’t keep her from trying. She pushed herself to the very edge, risking a lung collapse and travelling overseas despite being heavily cautioned against it by trained doctors. And all this for Gus?
No. The Fault In Our Stars is as much a story of self-love as it is romantic. Hazel (and Gus, for that matter) is a fighter through and through, risking even her life in moments to prove to herself (more than anyone else) that she is capable. She can achieve. She can fight. She can live. Hazel and Gus are incredible examples of how one should spend their days: in the moment. Not fearing for the future, not worrying about life after death, but living for the now and enjoying every second of it. In his novel, John Green makes it clear that knock-backs are a common obstacle; Hazel faces diagnosis, the inability to breathe independently, the hard-hitting negative reality of a life-long idol, and even the death of her “star-crossed lover”, but she doesn’t let that stop her. She keeps fighting until the very end. In a way I actually find myself disappointed that Green’s novel does not, like An Imperial Affliction, end mid-sentence. It would certainly be reflective of the way in which Hazel doesn’t give give up.
Unless she does. It devastates me to think that the death of Gus could break Hazel Grace Lancaster, whose fighting spirit is as inspiring as the likes of Elinor Dashwood and Elizabeth Bennet, but in reality Gus’ death is a stark reminder of what is to come. In my last blog I posed the question “is being remembered really that important?”, a matter which plagued Gus’ mind throughout the course of The Fault In Our Stars. To Gus, yes it was, and I’ve got to say I agree. No, fame is not important, but everybody has a goal, a legacy they want to leave. Gus’ was to leave his mark on the world, not just on the people he loved but on everybody. He wanted to do something that mattered to the masses, and he never fully achieved that. No, Augustus Waters wasn’t a failure, but he passed away before completing his personal character arc, reminding John Green’s huge audience that anybody could do the same. Nothing is more tragic than that.
So yes, The Fault In Our Stars is more than a teen romance. It is a story of fate, sacrifice, and harsh reality which makes it almost Shakespearean. Like Romeo and Juliet, these star-crossed lovers will fight to the death to be with each other, but eventually fate will make its move. It’s simply how you live your little infinity that matters.