The first book I ever read, that was written by John Green was, A Fault In Our Stars. During and after reading the book, I could not stop crying. But it was not simply because the book, the characters and the writer arose in me a perfect blend of sadness and hope, but it was because, I could finally say: "He gets it, someone finally gets it." As a young adult and an avid reader, it follows that I have read a lot of young adult books, but many as unsatisfying as the last. It is not because the books are bad, or that the writers are not good, but it is because these writers are unable to reach in and grapple with the uncertain and fragile core that is foundational to the lives of teenagers and young adults alike.
However, John Green is different. He has separated himself from the mainstream young adult genre, not because his story lines are different, but because in his writing, it shows that he possesses a shared understanding with his characters and his prospective audience. But, his work of fiction is not simply being pushed to the sideline of the mainstream cliché that is the young adult genre. He has successfully created and redefined his own mainstream literary culture and formed a resistive army of nerd fighters that indulge his brilliance and highly anticipate his next literary wonder.
John Green was featured in Time's list of "The 100 Most Influential People." For his piece on this list, Shailene Woodley writes,
Some say that through his books, John gives a voice to teenagers. I humbly disagree. I think John hears the voices of teenagers. He acknowledges the intelligence and vulnerability that stem from those beautiful years when we are, for the first time, discovering the world and ourselves outside of our familial stories.
I could not agree with her more, and I believe that this is what uniquely separates Green's work from other writers. He does not look to give a voice to young adults, but he recognizes the juxtaposition of simplicity and complexity that exists in all young adults, and he simply seeks to draw that out in his work. He tries to understand us, rather than pretend that he does, and this allows his book to give young adults one of the greatest gifts of all: to be seen, to be heard and to be understood.
Green takes his readers on a thrilling ride. At first, the journey starts out as a journey for the characters, one that might feel slightly alienating from our own personal stories. But then, we begin to see ourselves in the characters, we begin to understand their perspective and start appreciating their journeys. Green gives his audience a stake in the character's personal experience, and soon, it becomes their own journeys as well. This is why his work stirs up so much emotion in his readers, because soon, the journey becomes not the estranged journey of an unknowable character, but their own journey of self-enlightenment and discovery.
We begin to feel what the characters feel. His book becomes a mirror into our lives, and a reflection of our realities. His books are compounded with funny characters, beautiful philosophical insights, an exhilarating and intricate use of words, and his ability to draw out the potentiality that exists in all of us. His books are not condescending or pretentious but compassionate and empathetic to our shared realities, however mundane or multifaceted they may be. This is what allows him to appeal to a fan base as diverse as his, with widely dissimilar experiences, because he is able to beautifully bridge the gaps of our unshared realities.
Oh, the brilliance that is John Green. One must not go a lifetime without exposing themselves to his books. The inevitable consequence of non-exposure will be a life spent in despair, missing out on a journey one could only comprehend through experience. I may not be a literary critic and I may not fully grasp the intricacies of their job, but I am a young adult who can see that while many young adult writers try to make their characters different, dramatic and surprising, Green reaches into all of us, and through his prose tackles and unifies our common humanity. Such brilliance, such utter brilliance!
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