Last week I listed the movies that have stayed with me and I observed that three of these movies originated as books. I have been thinking a lot about this. What is the primary driver for reading and watching? Some movie adaptations are wonderful – The Shawshank Redemption, some are OK - High Fidelity, and some movie adaptations are not successful – I’m looking at you The Time Traveller’s Wife. For me, The Outsiders was the first shock of a movie that was not faithful to the book (they don’t always have to be but some sting more than others) so I was tread gently when a favourite is being adapted for a different medium. 2014 is a cracker year for movie adaptations - here is a list.
But I am going to single out 2 books/movies because their cult status and their respective fandoms are epic. Spanning years and continents. Lives ruined, bloodshed. Well…not really ruined but certainly hearts broken.The two books are The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and the Veronica Mars book The Thousand Dollar Tan Line.
The Thousand Dollar Tan Line
So I am starting with a book that I am anticipating, not one that I have read. Firstly, Veronica Mars who is a post-modern Nancy Drew TV series that was cancelled in 2007 after 3 seasons. This TV series kicks ass. Nearly 10 years later, it is fresh, the dialogue snaps and the tension! Ohhhh! The swooning, smouldering, LoVE shipping tension has watchers fanning themselves as they watch Logan Echolls, who is a vile, reprehensible rich boy win over every viewer and at times Veronica. The fandom around Veronica Mars has been incredibly strong over the years particularly with fanfiction as series 3 finished in an open ended film noir scene. The constant fan writing sparked with creator Rob Thomas who launched the most successful kickstarter in history and raised funds to make a reunion movie to give fans closure. The movie comes out next week but in an interesting twist Rob Thomas last week announced the release of a book – not a novelisation of the movie or series but a standalone story with a second book coming out later in the year. This is interesting that we have lived in a society that more often books are adapted to visual mediums yet with Veronica Mars the visual mediums have driven the need for the written word. I hope this is successful. I don’t think that adaptations in the reverse, that is film to print, have been as successful (or common) as adaptations from book to film. I would say that this book is now my most anticipated book for the year (along with Kate Rorick’s book adaptation of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries which is a modernised vlog adaptation of Pride and Prejudice creating a beautiful circle of adaptations).
The Fault in Our Stars
John Green more famous Youtube channels than for his 4 novels. Vlogbrothers, which is a weekly video exchange with his brother Hank Green has a fanclub (? does this term show my age) Nerdfighteria and his channel Crash Course where John delivers 10-12 minutes of history lessons and his oddly enjoyable John Green play FIFA14. His Tumblr – fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com and Youtube is always interesting and inspiring if not dizzying for the amazing speed that John Green speaks. The Fault in Our Stars which was inspired by the life (and death) of a Nerdfighter called Esther Earl. I approached ready TFIOS cautiously. There is a lot of hype around this book and I don’t often connect with books that are hyped. Also, here was another author I felt I knew. His weekly vlog with his brother gives me a connection I have only felt with twitter authors that engage with me. I’ve written about my trepidation on reading authors I’ve connected with online previously. I question whether I like their writing because I’ve already connected with their authorial voice. John Green is different in that I have never personally communicated with him but he is so personable on his vlog that you can be mistaken for thinking that he is talking directly to you not his brother (a vlog thang for sure). I certainly felt a connection with John Green’s voice so I wasn’t sure if it was going to overwhelm me in a piece of fiction. This is not a problem that I had encountered until only recently. And yes his voice was there, loud and strongly John Green but it worked well. And he too seems aware of his own voice with the presence of an author in the book itself. A pivotal character one could say that was so carefully balanced against what we may or may not know about John Green.
The Fault in Our Stars is narrated by a 16 year old Hazel Lancaster who has terminal cancer. Her parents force her to go to a teen cancer support group. At this group she meets Augustus Waters who also had cancer and is an amputee in remission. The story is sharp and funny with beautiful lines. The line that stood out for me, apart from all the romance, pain, illness and humour was”Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you”.
This is a book worthy of its hype and I certainly hope that the movie does it justice. I was expecting it to be like Barbra Conklin’s PS I love you but it was better (and that is a high achievement!!!!). It was as touching but it had so many other aspects to it. It discusses illness, the patronising way that people can talk about cancer, the snarky teens that make sick jokes as well as the authorial voice and love and scars. Did I fall in love with TFIOS? Well, it was lovely but I was not overwhelmed with feels like I know I would have been if I was reading it at 16. This saddens me somewhat. Like the edges of my feelings have been worn down by reality. I recommend this beautiful book. Go out and read it. And hopefully the movie will enhance it.