If you see blotchy-faced teenagers on the street this week they will have emerged from an early screening of the young adult movie of the year, The Fault in Our Stars. Based on the novel of the same name by John Green, #TFIOS is a recent take on the star-crossed lovers theme involving two young cancer sufferers who refuse to let illness define their lives. It has been a New York Times best-seller for 124 consecutive weeks, and the trailer for the movie has been viewed over 20 million times. (Note: the trailer includes the beginning of a bedroom scene.)
Green’s fierce following of devoted teens grew thanks to his three previous successful novels and the popular YouTube channel vlogbrothers which he co-created with his brother Hank. Green is passionate about inspiring intellectual curiosity in teens and sees reading in particular as a way of teaching humanity, empathy and communications skills; as a way of teaching teens to live. In both ventures Green has achieved the one thing teens value most: he made them care. And beyond that, once the emotion subsides, teens are finding seeds he’s planted which help them ponder the meaning of life, the purpose of suffering and the essence of true love.
The story appeals to young people because it speaks to them about things that matter. But, although it asks good questions, it doesn’t make much progress along the path to answering them and is particularly sceptical about religious answers. It reflects conventional attitudes to sex—the sole condition, that “you really love each other”, is not too far from where Twilight left us—and spares us only some of the detail.
Nevertheless, most teens have read it and intend to see the movie. That being the case, there is an opportunity to direct their final glance toward the most worthwhile aspects and leave the rest behind. The discussion starters in the following SlideShare are intended to that process, but, with or without them, TFIOS is a conversation that needs to be had.
*A full content review can be found here
Clare Cannon is the editor of www.GoodReadingGuide.com