Saturday, August 9, 2014

Why I Like John Green

A classmate of mine once called John Green the writer of "sappy love stories". I refrain from calling her an ignorant **** simply because I'm a nice person. How can one reduce a perfectly good John Green novel to the level of something published by Mills & Boons. It's outrageous!

Have you ever had that feeling in which you desperately want to defend your favourite public personality (perhaps a writer or an author) but have held yourself back as you don't want people telling you to calm down? Have you felt personally attacked whenever someone you don't know but still like is criticized or made fun of? Has being a fan ever been harder than when haters use your fandom as a way to tease you? Don't answer. I know you have. Everyone has. And I feel it every time someone says something bad about John Green.

So today, I will unabashedly do what I have kept myself from doing for a long time. I will defend John Green all I want, and no, this is a blog and nobody gets to tell me to calm down! Defending John Green is like defending a white, fluffy rabbit. It's easy. All I need to do is enumerate some of his merits to all the ignorant haters who'd know the merits themselves if they knew how to read between the lines.

1) John Green doesn't ignore his supporting characters. Each one of his novels has had a supporting character that has on several occasions outshone the main character. These characters would probably be annoying in real life, but in novels, they jump out of the page and shake you up. They're the kind of characters that's be called "breakout roles" if actors ever played them in movies. Take for example Tiny Cooper in Will Grayson, Will Grayson. He's an obese, gay drama-queen whose boisterous exterior hides a story and leads to a grand musical dedicated only to him. And Hassan from An Abundance of Katherines? He was a Judge Judy loving Muslim who understands protagonist Colin better than even Colin knew. Radar and Ben can give Ron and Hermione a run for their money, because they're just as loyal and understanding as them. I sometimes wish I had friends like John Green's protagonists and that's more than I can say for a lot of other fictional best friends.

2) John Green knows how to work in a degree of mystique into his novels without wavering from mainstream. His novels are philosophical, no doubt, and have good messages embedded in them. While Looking for Alaska spoke of the transience of life and searched for answers to tons of important questions, The Fault in our Stars was about living whatever life you have left to the fullest. Paper Towns was all about the future, does the future truly exist or is it an idea created by insurance and home loan companies? Meanwhile, An Abundance of Katherines is about carving a new identity for oneself once the old one starts sliding away. however, none of these novels come across as preachy, neither do they have the Paul Coelho disease, with the oversimplified language and a story which reads like a fable. They're just like all other YA novels, but there are more layers to them when you really read them with concentration.

3) John Green does his research. The reason I could never write something like Paper Towns is because I could never learn all the different meanings of the phrase 'Paper Towns' and use them to make a story. That kind of stuff needs research. I especially liked the tidbit about 'paper towns' being fake towns that surveyors put on their maps to keep an eye on plagiarized map (no original map would ever have the same paper town on it). An Abundance of Katherines was mainly about the protagonist trying to formulate an equation to make predictions in his love life, but it's also about what it means to be a prodigy. What most of us don't know is that a prodigy and a genius are two very different things, especially Indians who basically think a genius or prodigy is basically somebody who gets into IIT! However, John Green takes us into the mind of a prodigy and tells what exactly keeps him from being a genius. A lot of crime novelists do ll kinds of research regarding criminal psychology and the world they plan to set their tales in, and John Green doesn't do that. Instead, each of his novels speaks of one thing we really need to know about but never thought to d any research on.

4) Because I would totally love to switch places with John Green! I always wanted to be a writer, but I never wanted to be J.K. Rowling or Chetan Bhagat. In spite of their success, the genres they dabbled in didn't appeal to me. However, John Green is a writer who pens stories for young adults without venturing into cheapness or fantasy. Plus, he's rich and successful and that couldn't hurt, right? So, yeah. If I could give up my architecture course and become John Grenn, I would, and that's really saying something.