The other day, I was tooling around YouTube (as I am wont to do from time to time) and I stumbled across the following video review of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. I’ll admit, the video’s title (“I Dislike ‘The Fault in Our Stars'”) caught my attention. I was curious to see what the video’s creator, Beckie0, had to say.
After watching her video, I realized that I had some things to say on this subject. But before I share my thoughts, I want you to watch the video. And, fair warning, there are some major spoilers:
So why am I sharing this video? Because Beckie hit on a lot of my own thoughts regarding TFiOS.
Like her, my first John Green novel was Paper Towns and I loved it! I devoured that story and found it simply fascinating. I was sure that I had found a new favorite author in Green, so I went on to read TFiOS. And my ardor…well, it cooled. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. So I read the third book of his I had in my stack, namely Looking for Alaska. And while I enjoyed both of those books, I didn’t enjoy them as much as I had Paper Towns. Something was off, and I couldn’t quite articulate what it was.
Beckie’s video helped me figure it out. She’s right, the books are essentially the same story with the same archetypical characters: quirky teenage female who is ultimately chased by a well-meaning boy. The only real difference is who the point-of-view characters are. In Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska, the POV characters are the boys. In TFiOS, Green switched things up by making the POV character the chased female.
Now I don’t think I disliked the book as much as Beckie did. I found some of the unnatural soliloquies entrancing (especially Hazel’s statements in the eulogy about different lengths of infinities). And while I didn’t cry at the all-too-predictable ending (I had it pegged about a third of the way through as well), I finished the book feeling mostly satisfying.
What has me bothered, though, is some of what I saw in the video’s comments.
I feel bad that Beckie had to disable the rating feature on the video (it would have definitely gotten a thumbs up from me) because people felt they had to attack her for an opinion about a book. It’s sad that she feels as though she can’t have a contrary position on a piece of literature. It’s a shame that it seems like it’s becoming more and more difficult for people to have civil discussions regarding issues about which they disagree.
So I wanted to share Beckie’s video here and, just in case she stumbles onto my little corner of the Internet, I want to say, “Well done.” And thank you. You helped me sort through my own thoughts about this book and I appreciate it.
Unfortunately it’s nothing new. Take Star Trek: I enjoy it, have since I was a very young child. But there are “fans” who can’t admit there are flaws in this body of work. It poisons the very fandom itself, since these same people won’t admit to anything new. Witness the vitriol toward JJ Abrams: not just legitimate criticism, but scathing hatred. We have to be willing to laugh at are own foibles, and even the foibles of the things we love. Otherwise we weaken the very things we seek to celebrate.
I could not bring myself to read it because I felt it would be more about the condition (and silly romance), than characters I could actually care about. For a cancer story, I like A Walk to Remember, with a girl who I came to love before I found out that she had cancer.
It is upsetting that people are not allowed to dislike things anymore. It is more upsetting to me that I often find it in the amazon reviews and comments for Christian novels, where the fans attack those who disagreed.
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