By now, I figure many people have come to know and have read works by youth adult writer John Green. Green has written such works as Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and The Fault in Our Stars, the first of Green’s books to become a film.
I have read three of these, the exclusion being Paper Towns, and I have come to ponder one of the many debates about his works. As I have not read Paper Towns, all of my thoughts exclude that piece.
As more of a fact than an opinion: Green sells. His videos are incredibly popular, his books are relatable and captivating, and his material is heavily advertised and well received critically in mass media. He is successful, and he shows no signs of letting up.
That being said, what about Green sells? With the exception of An Abundance of Katherines from the previously mentioned three, a fairly quirky story of a boy-genius who cannot stop falling in love with women named Katherine, Green sells by utilizing teenage tragedy. This makes his stories not only emotional and often heart-breaking, but comparable to the lives many teenagers face.
That’s one side of the coin. The other side of it is that Green exploits teenage tragedy. No different than the controversy behind the release of novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close exploiting the tragedy of 9/11 for profit, Green’s dramatization of teenage horrors sells on the shelves and in the box office.
Only Green knows his true intentions and motivations, and no interview he offers can ultimately set the record straight. The debate is something every reader ought to bear in mind, though.
The content is riveting, I absolutely admit that. Looking for Alaska hit home for myself in a lot of ways, while The Fault in Our Stars was a powerful narrative of how teens can possibly conquer cancer emotionally. Regardless of his intentions, it cannot be disputed that for many YA readers, the content is great.
With that in mind, I am interested to see if his books continue the themes of teenage tragedy. This discussion became even more fueled following the motion picture release of The Fault in Our Stars, and it would surely only begin again with the release of another tragic YA novel.
While I will likely still buy his next book to find out, I’ll be thinking twice about what I’m really buying when I open up the cover.
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