On The Fault in Our Stars, jokes, and tone

the fault in our stars john green tone okay okay wallpaper review you put the killing thing in your mouth but you don't give it the power to do the killing

I read The Fault in Our Stars recently (quite enjoyed it, very well written, would recommend) and something that struck me about it was that it was actually quite funny.

I found that a little bit odd, because I wasn’t really expecting that. From what I’d heard about it, I was expecting it to err a little bit more towards the bleak and depressing. (When I mentioned to my friends that I’d read it, the first question was “Is it as depressing as it looks?”)

But it’s not. I mean, yes, there is obviously an ever pervasive sense of… tragedy, I suppose, with regards to their situations, but it’s rarely at the forefront of things. Which I suppose is part of the point – dealing with cancer isn’t a collection of moments, it’s a long process of dealing with cancer. Despite that though, it’s honestly really funny. A lot of the humour is in the dialogue, where there’s a lot of jokes, and a lot of witty banter.

I suppose what it comes down to really is something Joss Whedon once said. “Make it dark, make it grim, but for the love of god, tell a joke.” And he’s right, really. For one thing it can make it a bit more palatable (I’m not sure the book would be quite so popular if it was dark and grim the whole time; stories should be enjoyable on some levels at least), but I think it also works as a juxtaposition, and can make things more tragic. To say “Look at these happy, funny teenagers, and how they’re cut down in the prime of their life” seems a little bit more sad, to me, than “These people are in a miserable place and will only get worse”. Contrast provides emphasis.

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