Yep, you read that correctly, folks – I actually like The Fault in Our Stars. This should have been semi-evident upon seeing my blog title and icon, both fashioned in the same basic style of the book cover and promotional graphics. It’s one of my favorite things.
But you know what? I would be downright terrified to admit that this is one of my favorite books if I were sitting in a classroom with my peers. So much negativity surrounds John Green, largely because of his massive online presence (vlogbrothers, crash course, mental floss, twitter, tumblr, et al.) and the fans of the original vlogbrothers YouTube account, Nerdfighters. The video blogging account which John shares with his brother has over 6 million subscribers. In the eyes of the critical, this gives John’s books an unfair advantage at success. In addition, many nerdfighters are teens themselves, and many skeptics have pointed out that these viewers are at an age where they have less experience at living than adults. Obviously true.
What really irks me is the extension of that truth to suggest that teens are being pressured and warped ideologically (in ways they don’t even know exist) to support anything and every thing that comes from the Green machine. In a class of mine, the professor asked whether we know of any authors who have established online presences besides John Green. A classmate scoffed at hearing the name, and repeated “author” in a questioning tone with accompanying air quotes. I sat there wide eyed as my classmates nodded in solidarity with him, all the while feeling like I’d been slapped in the face. It must have taken me a full minute to catch up with my train of thought, which was careening down a hill. The professor stepped in before any incidents could occur. I had cited Green in my most recent essay.
This takes us into the whole high culture vs. low culture battle which I have lost the tolerance to discuss, quite frankly. All I will do is link you to this article.
John Greens books are super trendy right now. Looking for Alaska just hit its 10 year anniversary of getting published and even so, the book saw its sales skyrocket alongside the promotion of the TFIOS movie. It’s become common among my peers to snub any value TFIOS has. Seriously. It stems from the fact that many readers are teens. Thus, this whole owning and reading a book thing is just a fad, and has no cultural weight. Often, things that are popular turn out to be fads that we look back upon and think “What?!” (like parachute pants, for example), and this is where the human mind jumps across this association to think that maybe ALL popular things are just fads. And people who endorse those fads empty and helpless to the lure of today’s capitalism.
There’s also the monumental stereotype labeled “teenybopper.” This teenybopper is a young teenage girl, who is obsessed with whatever fad reigns supreme in her present, but ultimately forgets that she ever loved that fad when a new one rolls in and takes over. First of all, the absence of a male teenybopper stereotype (though “hipster” is growing close to it) indicates that this is a gender issue. Of course it’s the girls who get criticized for what they like. Heaven forbid a teenage girl be allowed to enjoy something. Fashions, they come and go – in order to succeed in the fashion business or experience, one must change with the trends. TFIOS and teenybopper are melted together in the public eye. Another factor in the massive dismissal of the book and its merits.
It turns out that Young Adult books are marketed to Young Adults. Whoa, crazy. What we’re upset about here is that this niche genre has found and thrived in conjunction with its niche audience? How about, let’s not do that, okay?
Crack open the first page of this book, and it might surprise you. As it turns out, John is a good writer. His nerdfighteria fan base knows this already. Yes, I have read all of John’s books and yes, I enjoyed every stinkin’ one. TFIOS has a special place in my heart though. It resonated more fully in me than his other books, possibly because it is a text that actually stands up after a re-reading, possibly a million other factors. But I’m tired of being mocked for it.
Passionate Nerdfighter, wept openly at premiere of TFIOS movie.