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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars

This post is on the book, The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. I have not seen the movie, based on that book, which is currently playing in theaters.

For the plot of the book, and more, use the first link, above, which is to the Wikipedia article on the book.

I don't wish to give away the plot, so I won't have much to say about the book.

First, it was well written. I'm not surprised that it has been a best-seller. It is aimed at the teen market. For one thing, the book is entirely as experienced by the protagonist, a 16-year-old, Hazel Grace. Some other characters, including the second most important character, are also teenagers. However, I liked it, and see no reason why adults would not appreciate the book, and, apparently, many of them have. There are references to Shakespeare and other important authors, and the dialog, which is splendid -- although it would have taken extraordinary teenagers, or, for that matter, college professors, to produce, in real life -- considers many important subjects.

Second, the book is about cancer, or having cancer. The three main teen characters all have cancer. Cancer affects living deeply -- that's one aspect, in Fault, of having it. But it doesn't make you subhuman. (The author says that he was influenced by being a chaplain in a children's hospital.) Hazel and her friend Augustus, aka Gus, come to the realization that the great paintings, such as those in art museums in The Netherlands, may be about various subjects, including, sometimes, death, but they are never about being cancer-ridden.

Third, and last, the book does not have a Christian worldview:

"All salvation is temporary," Augustus shot back. (page 59)

"Yes," he said, his voice full of confidence. "Yes, absolutely. Not like a heaven where you ride unicorns, play harps, and live in a mansion full of clouds. But yes. I believe in Something with a capital S. Always have."
"Really?" I asked. I was surprised. I'd always associated belief in heaven with, frankly, a kind of intellectual disengagement. But Gus wasn't dumb.
(page 168) Gus's idea of what heaven is not like doesn't have much to do with what the Bible says about the resurrected life -- as far as I know, the Bible doesn't mention unicorns, playing harps, or living in mansions, full of clouds or not, although these are common beliefs. He is right to dismiss such ideas. But he (nor Hazel) have no grasp of personal salvation, don't pray to God, don't go to church.

Does the non-Christian worldview mean that one shouldn't read the book? No. It's a good book, but I wanted to give a heads up about that matter, which may be critical for some potential readers. Thanks for reading this.


FancyHorse said...

I've read An Abundance of Katherines by the same author. It was amusing but I haven't wanted to read another by him. However, your review makes it sound more interesting.

Here is my review and a few others:

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, FancyHorse!

Weekend Fisher said...

I saw the movie with my daughter. It was really well done. I don't know how it compares to the book, but the movie dialog was smart, funny, and very human. Yes, the teenage actors were exceptional. The ending was ... really predictable, I called it before we'd gone to the theater, down to "which character" (though I didn't know their names beforehand).

Christianity is portrayed ... if at all ... through one character who is something of an embarrassment to Christians everywhere, except that he's basically a caricature. Atheism is portrayed as harsh, bitter, soulless, and occasionally vicious ... again mostly through one character who I'm guessing was also in the book.

All that said, the movie was really well done, I'm considering seeing it again. But if I do, I'm bringing tissues.

Oh and nudity+ warnings for the movie (don't want to say too much or it's spoilers ...)

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Martin LaBar said...

Nudity? I thought it was PG-13.

Yes, that more or less Christian character was in the book.

Again, I thought the dialog was too smart -- hardly anyone talks like that, without a scriptwriter.


Weekend Fisher said...

Wow, I hadn't realized it had managed to keep its PG-13 rating through the one character losing his virginity on-screen, but you're right: PG-13. They were really tasteful with the camera angles, but there wasn't any doubt about what was going on. (My daughter is 17 and had already read the book, so "handling it tastefully" was about all I could ask at that point.)

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Martin LaBar said...

OK. Thanks.