Watched the film on 20th September. I wanted to see what this was like because of all the hype. My partner and I watched it on his birthday and we both thought it was very romantic. As with most books vs films, there were some changes between the film and the book but most of these were subtle I thought. The book starts with mum persuading Hazel to go to treatment. In the film, it’s Dr Maria who’s her doctor. There are some changes to people’s appearances between the film and the book. In the book, Isaac is blonde and he’s got black curly hair in the film. Augustus (Gus) is described as having brown straight hair in the book but in the film it’s wavy. There are some details that differ in the church too. In the film, there’s a rug with a picture of Jesus, but the book only talks about a cross and Jesus. In the book, people walk or wheel into the room and in the film no one is in a wheelchair except the guy in the lift as Hazel goes to use the stairs.
In the book, there’s a scene where Hazel is at the mall with a friend and she buys the book that’s a sequel to the book Gus lends her. She excuses herself from her friend’s company. Whilst she’s in the mall reading, a little girl comes up to her and asks to try her oxygen. This scene, but not the mall scene is in the film, but happens as Hazel, Gus and Hazel’s mum are at the airport waiting to get their flight to Holland. All this happens in the first 20% (approximately the first 52 pages) of the book. There are various stages throughout the book where Gus and Isaac play a video game that’s based on The Price of Dawn, the book that Gus lent Hazel. Isaac and his girlfriend broke up and that’s when what Hazel calls “The Night of the Broken Trophies” happens as Isaac gets really upset and starts breaking Gus’s baseball trophies. Hazel makes a visit to Isaac while he’s in hospital and so does Isaac’s mum. This is quite a sad scene.
Hazel has spent some time, as has Gus, trying to get in contact with Peter van Houten, the author of An Imperial Affliction (a book they both love). To Hazel’s surprise and delight, she gets emailed by Peter’s assistant and invited to Amsterdam with Gus so they can ask Peter questions about the book, and the burning questions about how the book ends, which is what they both, especially Hazel, wants to know. There’s a mention of Make A Wish and Genie foundations in the book but not the film. Hazel starts reading about Caroline, who passed away from brain cancer and all the tributes to her on social networks. This isn’t in the film. Hazel has another stay in the ICU. Gus visits her in hospital. After this, Hazel asks the doctors about whether she can go to Amsterdam with Gus and they say yes provided she goes with someone who knows her condition well. Her mum goes with them, but they can only go for four days. There’s another quick support meeting and Hazel visits Isaac who’s now home and we learn he has a younger brother who doesn’t feature in the book other than that one quick appearance.
There are lots of details in the book which help the story along and I really like the plot, despite its sad parts. Where the book is very detailed, though, is the trip to Amsterdam. In the book, there’s a lot of scenes where Hazel and Gus are sitting outside by the canal, and lots of detail about the conversation with the taxi driver on their way from the airport to the hotel in the book but not the film. The hotel room is described very well in the book and they seem to spend more time inside the hotel in the film than the book. There’s a very romantic scene where they have dinner outside by the canal (courtesy of Peter van Houten). They’re dressed the same in the film as in the book as when they go out, but the book meal scene seems more romantic to me, because of the champagne, the canals and the “confetti” (petals) falling from the trees. The next day they meet Peter van Houten and his assistant who are portrayed really well in the book and film- Peter’s obnoxious drunken manner contrasts sharply with Ludewij’s kind one. In the book, there’s a scene where, after being humiliated by Peter, Hazel and Gus hurriedly leave his house to be driven by Ludewij to the Anne Frank museum. The kiss Gus and Hazel share at the Anne Frank house is just as passionate in both the film and book, and the Anne Frank house is really vividly represented in both, as is Hazel’s and Gus’s monumental achievement to get to the top of the house despite all the steps. The next morning, they have breakfast outside the hotel in the book but inside in the film. There’s a real sense of climax as they fly back to the USA.
Not long after, Gus is hospitalised (in book) and his condition is reported to have worsened. There’s a very poignant scene back in Amsterdam where he doesn’t want to tell Hazel how bad things are for him. In the book and film , we see how his health is now really fragile, and at one point, Hazel refers to herself as “the healthiest person in the room.” This must have been a sad realisation for her, knowing that she’s very unwell, but that Isaac and Gus have deteriorated so much. We continue to see the close friendship throughout the book and film. Hazel’s dad seems to be the most emotionally vulnerable of all the characters in both the book and the film. In the book, he’s always asking her if she’s OK, and he often gets openly upset. In the film, we don’t really see much of him although he’s with Hazel and her mum at home. There’s a mixture of happiness and sadness in both the book and film from then on. They both make an impact on me, and I can’t decide if I liked the book or the film better. They’re a must-read/see if you like a good realistic film with drama, likeable characters and an unforgettable storyline with a lot of love and friendship sprinkled on top. This is one book and film I’m glad I believed the hype for because it’s one that’ll stay with me forever as a favourite!