John Green is Awesome (But So is the Rest of YA)

Photo credit: Say It Aint SO! on Flickr
With the massive success of The Fault in Our Stars and the recent announcement that Paper Towns will be hitting the big screen, there’s been this shift happening online. And it’s a shift that, quite frankly, needs a massive attitude adjustment.

Before I go on, I’d like to establish something.

First and foremost, I love John Green. I think TFiOS is a wonderful book and I’ve been a fan of vlogbrothers for a while, and I am so very happy to see how successful he’s been. It’s always wonderful when there’s a big success in books, and when it’s a YA success, I’m even happier. So go John Green. You’re awesome.

What I’m not loving so much, is this idea being perpetuated by the media lately that John Green’s books are worth so much more than the other YA trash out there like Hunger Games and Twilight and maybe now some real value will come out of YA because Green’s been so successful.

Ugh.

I’m not going to link to the article that basically said as much, because it doesn’t deserve the traffic. But there are so many things wrong with that message, and it makes me rather ragey.

To start, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but no one book is worth more than anotherTwilight and Hunger Games are not garbage, nor are any other books out there, regardless of whether or not you read them or enjoyed them. It’s perfectly okay if one, or all of those books aren’t your thing, but that by no means indicates that they’re somehow worth less than TFiOS or any other book out there.

Secondly, the insinuation that there isn’t any value in what’s been published in YA thus far just tells me that someone hasn’t been reading very much YA. Some of the most powerful books I’ve read about love, sacrifice, betrayal, responsibility, power and self-discovery were YA novels. YA is showing teenagers that they’re not alone, that what they’re feeling and experiencing isn’t just them, that it’s wonderful to love and live and yes, sometimes life is hard and yes, sometimes loss is horrible, but we move on and become better people for our experiences. And sometimes stories with those messages have vampires and fights to the death and magic and demons and princes and faeries, and you know what? That doesn’t make them less valid.

YA is a beautiful category. And John Green is certainly a part of that, and his work has spoken to loads of teens out there, but you know what? So has Stephanie Meyers’s work, and Suzanne Collins’s work, and Tahereh Mafi's and Veronica Roth’s and Beth Revis’s and Cassandra Clare’s and Julie Kagawa’s and Lauren Oliver’s books. So have countless other YA authors, both male and female, writing in genres across the board from Paranormal to High Fantasy to Dystopia to Sci-Fi to Urban Fantasy to Thriller to Horror to Magical Realism and yes, even to Contemporary.

They're all equally wonderful, so rather than insinuating one book is worth more than the others, let’s celebrate the wonderful category that is YA equally and leave it at that.

*ragequits*

Twitter-sized bites:
Writer @Ava_Jae says no one book is worth more than another. What do you think? (Click to tweet)  
"Some of the most powerful books I've read about love, sacrifice, betrayal...& self-discovery were YA." (Click to tweet)

12 comments:

Laura Rueckert said...

YES! Down with book-snobbery!

Ava Jae said...

Exactly that! :)

cynthiarox said...

this post read my mind!!!

Ava Jae said...

Glad to hear I wasn't the only one fuming. :)

Robin Red said...

It's a combination of sexism (all these successful YA franchises written by women, and the new guy pops up and gets so much credit) and genre-bias (if there's magic and fairies, it can't be taken nearly as serious as a story about a girl undergoing cancer treatment). It's a really ugly attitude to have in a world where folks aren't reading enough. Spot on, Ava.

Ava Jae said...

Thanks, Robin. I think you're completely right—it's the perfect storm for a terrible attitude.

Jen Donohue said...

I've loved John Green since reading "Looking for Alaska" (my first John Green book, though I've since read the others)! He's somebody I'll recommend to people looking for a good story, and when people turn their nose up at YA (and they will. And do.) I just tell them they're missing out.

Ava Jae said...

To be honest, I've only read TFiOS, but I totally loved it and I've seen tons of his vlogs and I really respect him. He spreads such a positive attitude and he's a wonderful writer—one of the many wonderful writers within the YA community. Those who don't bother trying the category are definitely missing out.

marinasbookaddiction said...

Books have always been my escape, specially YA. They were there when no one else was.
Not just John Green but all the authors I've ever read.
They've helped me build the person I am today (even the books I didn't like).
And I've heard so many comments on how the world is getting tired of YA and how it's becoming a cliché. But teenagers deserve to have their own books too. And they start judging so easily when in reality, if everyone read these kinds of books we'd all learn some really important lessons.

This post made me really happy, so thanks!

Ava Jae said...

Yes! I so agree. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

Michelle Irwin said...

*Applauds* Long before Twilight and Hunger Games etc, back when I was a teenager, there was a book "Looking for Alibrandi." I'm not sure how big this book was outside of Australia, but for me it had everything I needed to read when I was a teenager. Exactly as you said, it was a book that helped me find my own way. I identified so hard with the main character. It's been so long since I last read it that I couldn't tell you every event in it, but even now *cough-cough* years later, the impact it had on my life has stuck with me. That's what is important with a book--not the actual story, not the quality of the writing, but what it gives the reader. That could be something as simple as a few hours of entertainment, right through to helping someone deal with their own issues through watching a fictional character evolve.

Ava Jae said...

Agreeeeeeeee! The impact books have on people are one of the many aspects that make them so special. Along with that, one book may have absolutely no affect on one reader to the point that the reader may dislike it, but the very same book could completely connect with someone else. Subjectivity is the rule with art, and books are no exception.

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