A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
Guest poster Kathleen Holly Marsh writes about a multi-platform publishing phenomenon.
John Green is an American author and vlogger. Many will know him from his YouTube channel “vlogbrothers” which he shares with his brother Hank, where the two of them have spawned the internet community of Nerdfighteria; this community consists of a large, avid collection of “nerdfighters” who spend their lives being “awesome” and doing “awesome” things under the motto: “Don’t forget to be awesome” (which is also coincidentally the name of his and Hank’s record company). However, for those who don’t make a habit of getting lost in YouTube, he is well-known for his Young Adult novels which have recently taken the teenage end of the internet by storm, due to their unfailing ability to be relatable to every reader.
Green released his fifth and latest book, The Fault in Our Stars, in January 2012 and it stayed at number one in the New York Times for several weeks. It is currently back at number one. The Fault in Our Stars is arguably his most popular book yet and has gathered a truly impressive fan base online inspiring countless works of fan art and fan fiction. Green announced last year that The Fault in Our Stars was to be produced as a film and has since announced that the lead character Hazel Grace Lancaster would be played by Shailene Woodley. Her love interest, Augustus Waters, has yet to be cast, encouraging the fans’ passionate anticipation.
The key element to Green’s novels which makes them so popular is clichéd romance combined with a unique twist. Although their main focus seems to be a love interest of one sort or another, he aptly creates unusual and entertaining backstories and personality traits, along with scarily accurate insights into his teenage protagonists’ minds. This is what gives each book that little kick that pushes the story from being good to great. However Green’s novels are not all sugar: there is always at least one moment in every book where you can feel a hand reaching into your chest, grabbing your heart, and promptly breaking it. There is an addictive emotional pull to every story that invokes a sort of masochism in every reader: you feel the need to read, and re-read the novel until the emotional strain is physically crippling. He creates the perfect character pairing where neither character is less interesting than the other, and both form the couple that every other couple wants to be. Green then happily throws in a plot twist to upstage every plot twist ever written to take you by complete surprise, and leave you feeling outraged at your perfect story being ruined, and yet still needing to know what’s going to happen next. The reader is helpless in Green’s literary grip, but can’t help enjoying the ride.
If unsure where to start with Green’s books, Looking For Alaska is his first, and I found it to be a sensible place to start as it gives a good impression of his writing style and sucks you straight into the plot immediately (I’m not exaggerating, I read it in three hours flat). I followed that with The Fault in Our Stars which also worked quite well, since they are the most emotional books out of the five. I calmed down after that by reading Paper Towns and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (co-written with David Levithan). These are no less interesting or addictive than the first two, just slightly less likely to leave you a sobbing wreck on the floor.
Although Green’s books are chiefly aimed at young adults, with the issues or topics that teens are facing every day as some of the strong themes in his novels, they are easily enjoyed by anyone old enough to understand some of the tougher issues that he tackles; cancer and homosexuality being two examples. His books are certainly not for the faint-hearted or easily upset; some are less triggering than others but all have their own unique and addictive plots that nearly anyone can enjoy.
John Green can be found at his booksite.
Kathleen Holly Marsh is getting through her exams with the aid of doughnuts.