As in most cases where a book precedes the movie, see the book first. The movie is not bad—in many ways it is very true to the book—but books contain a wealth of details, descriptions, and back stories that movies simply cannot.
The Fault in Our Stars is one of those movies. The story and dialogue are very close to the book of the same name. Some scenes were removed. Some scenes only had a richness to them because I had read the book. On the surface, the movie seems like a good enough movie, albeit a sappy sad teenage romance—a feeling that strangely the book didn’t project though it is a teenage novel.
The book lends the story some depth and brings you into Hazel’s thoughts. You know why she says and does things. You know her worry about her parents.
The book also explains back stories. You understand Isaac’s situation better. The egging of his ex-girlfriend’s car doesn’t seem quite so silly, but more empowering (emphasis on “quite”). You gain more insight into Van Houten and what was behind his less than welcoming nature.
While I liked the movie, I was disappointed in the lack of Indianapolis landmarks in it. The book is filled with references to places in Indianapolis. Little was present in the movie except for the North Central banner in Gus’ basement or the Funky Bones sculpture that they visited. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of The Ruins in Holliday Park.
I was further disappointed to learn that the film wasn’t even shot in Indianapolis. It was filmed in Pittsburgh. (Better tax incentives.) The view of a tree-lined, park-like Crown Hill Cemetery was just another cemetery. The Funky Bones, well, that had some authenticity. The filmmakers commissioned the artist to build another Funky Bones sculpture in Pittsburgh for their film.
But don’t let the inauthenticity of the filming location deter you. Just read the book first before enjoying the film.