So is a book always better than the movie? In this case, I hope not, because I’ve got a book for you today. And it’s not quite what I’d hoped it would be.
We have a history of blockbuster teenage romance movies that somehow turn out to be pretty good. Not because they tell a story we have never heard before, but because they tell us one we have. And they tell it well.
The Fault in Our Stars, Love, Simon, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and countless more do what they do well. Each of these was both a book and a movie—and both turned out quite nicely. Sure, my opinion might be a little biased depending on my tastes against yours, but hear me out on this one.
Some books just don’t measure up.
So without further ado, I’ll tell you what’s up with this one.
Five Feet Apart—Rachel Lippincott
This book starts off with the classic troupe for a romance story with teenagers involved: Two people hate each other and slowly fall for one another somewhere between point A and… wherever they end up. But there’s a catch— there’s always a catch. They’re not allowed to be together.
In this case, they can’t be together if either one wants to live. Both are cystic fibrosis patients, have been for years and they know the rules. They need to be at least six feet apart at all times in order to avoid contaminating one another due to their weak immune systems and low lung functions. Logistically, it’s simple. If they break the rules in place set to keep them alive, they could kill each other.
So what’s up with the story?
When introduced to main character Stella Grant, I actually quite liked her. She’s got this fierce independence and witty humor that makes it easy to appreciate her as a person. She seems a little complicated, something that you’re let more and more into as the story continues on, and the people that surround her are part of what makes the story so colorful.
Enter love interest: Will Newman. The boy who is classically angsty and just wants control over the health. Control he can’t possibly have. Because he’s terminal. And with a new infection, his margins for hope are growing smaller.
So what is it about the love story between these two that didn’t quite make the cut?
I guess, maybe, I wanted more. We were let into their lives and their minds, told about their insecurities and anything that held them back. But, to me, I felt like there was more. We’re missing the whole person. I wanted to know what made Stella laugh, what was Will worried about when it came to living, what about Stella’s best friend Poe made him special, why was this a story about Will and Stella?
We were being told a story about these two human beings. My questions was why them? Usually I can find that why in the story, find a reason why it had to be them and no one else. But throughout this story, it felt like the details were held at an arm’s length from the characters, as if this was a story happening to them, not one told by them.
Maybe that’s why the ending that you see coming falls a little flat. By the end of it, I didn’t care enough about them.
I wanted to, but I didn’t.
When it comes to good writing, you know something is written well when you can’t put it down or you look up from the pages and surprise yourself by still being in your own life, not theirs. I love books like this, especially those in which the movies and the books are such different animals that they are both great in alternate ways.
If I end up going out to see Five Feet Apart, I want to see just how the movie measures up. And if you’ve read this book, I would love to hear from you.
Did you feel that this book was as much as you wanted to be?