I’m a book person who loves movies. I can count on the fingers of one hand the movie adaptations that I thought did justice to the book. Gregory Peck was awesome in To Kill a Mockingbird, but even he couldn’t make me feel the subtle menace in the air of that fall evening when Scout and Jem headed home from the school play, or the tension of that sweltering packed courtroom, the way Harper Lee’s words could.
I love movies, but they break my heart all the time. And it happens most often when I really, really loved a book. I loved The Lovely Bones so much that I couldn’t see the movie. I watched Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close with great fear that it would ruin a wonderful book. (It didn’t.)
If I enjoy a book so much that I send copies to friends, and insist that my sons read it, and read parts out loud to my poor, long-suffering husband, then it is almost a certainty that the movie will ruin it for me.
I adored John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. It was the best book I read last year. I know I’m supposed to be too old to enjoy young adult novels, but this one was just SO good. I laughed much more than I cried. The teenagers were like kids I know, except for their unusual circumstances. They talked the way I imagine my sons and their friends talk when we smothering parents aren’t around. I fell in love with them.
I clicked on the movie trailer with great trepidation. I had Hazel and Gus in my head, and they didn’t want to be disturbed. But the casting of Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort looks right. Laura Dern is Hazel’s mother (a character I also adored in the book.)
I implore you, if you ever read at all, read this book before you see the movie. The trailer is good – it’s wonderful – and I will see the movie. But the book is perfect. Read it.
Edited on February 1, 2014 to add:
I felt so judged by this woman’s opinion on Twitter. I know she didn’t read my post, but still.
I don’t think it is my fault if someone casts a horrible actor in a movie adaptation of a book I loved. I’ll still love the book, but the vision I had of the character in my head will forever be that person and it’s hard to go back and make it not be. If a movie adaptation completely changes the plot (I’m looking at you, Gillian Flynn) then I might like it or I might not.