Recently (as in, between Thursday and Saturday) I’ve read two books by John Green. In the last week I’ve also read his novella in the Let It Snow collection. And I’ve already read The Fault in Our Stars and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I haven’t read Paper Towns, though, I must admit.
Anyway, what is it that makes Greens writing so special? The Fault in Our Stars was a phenomenal success, despite it’s topic being rather… morose. I personally think that while tFiOS is a wonderful book, it is overrated as being ‘the best most only good book that my heart could desire’ . Even if it’s not quite good enough to be reared one of the most epic love stories of all time, there has to be something about it that is special, that makes teens who don’t read enjoy the writing of John Green’s books.
First of all: quick summaries
The Fault in our Stars: Two teenagers with different types of cancer meet and show the world that you don’t have to be healthy to live life well. Themes: Death, love, philosophy
An abundance of Katherines: A teenage prodigy and his best friend embark on a road trip as the prodigy tries to work out a way to predict his so far 19 relationships with girls called Katherine. The friends they make along the way change their lives. Themes: love, friendship, what makes a good person, the unpredictability of the future
Looking for Alaska: A boy called Mils goes to boarding school and begins to make real friends, unlike the vague acquaintances he left behind. His relationship with a beautiful but damaged girl called Alaska and her fate changes him and his perspectives. Themes: death, friendship, love, mystery. Note: this was John Green’s debut
Will Grayson, Will Grayson: Two people called Will Grayson randomly meet and make friends. This culminates in a romance and epic production of a play. Themes: Love, homosexuality and teens, the importance of coincidence. Note: written with David Levithan.
Let It Snow: a series of 3 novellas all set in the same town on the same night, with overlapping characters. John’s is called ‘A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle’ about two boys desperately driving in a storm to meet 14 cheerleaders, dragging their friend The Duke (a girl) unenthusiastically with them. Themes: love, stereotypes, comedy.
Papertowns: no idea, I haven’t read it. But there is a character called Margo Roth speilberg I think and a ‘paper town’ that only exists on the map as a trademark that became a real town because people looked for it. But don’t ask me!
Zombicorns: A completely ridiculous novella written as a fundraiser about zombies who, when infected, dedicate their lives to ensuring the survival of a type of genetically modified corn. It is quite stupid and funny.
Pros of John Green
- He understands teenagers well, and crafts excellent characters
- His writing style is easy to read (aka addicting I read 2 books in 3 days)
- The novels are contemporary, so they come with any associated benefits
- They are all stand-alones so you can just pick a book up
- There are a lot of funny moments
- NO love triangles! Ever (that i know of) yay! so relieved!
- Very rich and well crafted secondary characters, that are often fun or funny ( think Hassan, Hollis, Isaac, Hazel’s parents, Takumi, the Colonel, Keun)
- Interesting settings (like boarding school, a small southern town, and Amsterdam)
- Extra bonus tangents where the reader can learn stuff (like the maths in Katherines, philosophical ideas in Tfios, and the whole concept of Paper Towns)
- Inside jokes or recurring themes in his book for example, venn diagrams.
Cons of John Green
- His books can be overrated
- Sometimes it’s just too contemporary, and you want some crazy fantastical setting where puppy-sized elephants roam
- some profanity and less ‘appropriate’ scenes that tweens who hear about the books would do well not to read. Then again, that perfectly describes teenagers too.
- Inconsistent humour
I couldn’t think of too many cons, but oh well. In conclusion, his books are ver good and interesting, and mark an era of contemporary becoming popular in the YA genre. However, the Fault in Our Stars has become so popular that is is overrated.