Sarah here with a rant. Roast. Or whatever the hell you wanna call it.
Yes, I admit it. I hate John Green books (shoot me why don’t ya). And for the longest I was hesitant to admit it because literally EVERYONE loves John Green books (though for a long minute I thought most of his demographic was of the teenage PSL and Ugg boots white girl variety anyway…still kinda do). Anyway back to my rant. His books – OVERRATED. And I’m here as a fairy god fucker to anyone else who thinks so (because let’s face it hardcore fans are never people to cross alone).
Now I’ve read most of his books I think (The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines) and I haven’t read Will Grayson, Will Grayson, or Let it Snow (isn’t that a collaboration piece anyway?). But I do think I’m allowed my opinion (yes my opinion) here.
And I have to say this as a disclaimer because again, I know there are some idiots out here who think just because I don’t like his books means I don’t like John Green. No. I love John Green. I admire that while I don’t enjoy his work, obviously he’s doing something right, and I value everything about him as a person. He’s an amazing person I’m sure, though I haven’t met him (unfortunately). I love Vlogbrothers and crash course, and his whole ideals about feminism and nerdom.
But needless to say, I don’t like his books. Let me tell you why.
They all have a pattern or a formula or however you see it as. There’s a less-than-average male protagonist (usually of the skinny white teenager on the geekier side) who has a crush on this out-of-this-world Mary Sue who won’t give him the time of day with weird interests, a best friend who tries to talk sense into said male protagonist, and an unbelievably and improbable situation, and an open-ended feel-goodish type ending. In general I also think he tries too hard to be funny for teenagers, when if he toned it down a bit I think it would have the intended effect anyway.
The only one that doesn’t fit this is The Fault in Our Stars, which I’ll get to later.
Right now I’m going to focus on my least hates to most hated.
Looking for Alaska: Miles (Pudge) I think his name is, goes to a school where he meets the hottest girl he’s ever seen, and who is mysterious in every way that he can’t resist. Okay, seriously who the FUCK in real life can actually be “mysterious”. Especially a teenage girl. Idgaf what y’all say about her backstory, because shit I lost my dad and I didn’t turn out like her. I also think she’s over-romanticized by the protagonist anyway, and while I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book, it was readable and probably the best out of the ones here. It is tragic, sad, but didn’t feel the least bit real other than maybe the grief everyone felt. But I don’t think any of them really knew Alaska enough to emote properly, because man was she a bitch. As for the main character, all I got was nice-guy pining from him (NEVER a good sign, and unfortunately a common thing between all of his male leads. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a “nice guy” who thinks that just because he treats his crush like a fucking human being, that he deserves to have her fall for him, and mopes about her liking other guys instead of his own self.) Overall I think I at least liked it a teeny bit better than TFIOS.
An Abundance of Katherines: Another nice guy and his best friend meet a girl that the nice guy eventually falls for type deal. After reeling from his last breakup, he decides to go somewhere and figure things out. He meets a girl, develops a formula for how long relationships last (as a nerd I did appreciate the amount of actual research and thought that went into it), but yeah it wasn’t great. Also, none of the shit that happened would EVER happen in the real world. Not the worst book in the world, but hard for me to get through without rolling my eyes every so often.
Paper Towns: …I FUCKING HATE THIS BOOK WITH A BURNING PASSION. LIKE SERIOUSLY WHAT THE FUCK. So the protagonist is pining after this girl (his childhood friend), who again, is over-romanticized and mysterious (seriously why the fuck can’t his male characters just be happy being friends with the girl Jesus fucking Christ). She’s annoying too let me address that real quick now. Another Mary Sue from what I hear from the protagonist, she’s again, way out of his league and won’t give him the time of day (but he knows he’ll treat her better than that no-good boyfriend of hers won’t he). Then, when she disappears for like the third fucking time or whatever, even though she’s a grown ass woman who literally doesn’t give a shit, he goes after her anyway, bringing along all his friends in his mother’s car (and nearly killing all of them in a freak cow accident) only to find out she didn’t wanna be found because of some deep personal shit only she can understand. She isn’t even grateful or apologetic. And he’s angry he didn’t get the girl. Tragic. And he made them miss graduation for this. I hate this male character. He literally demonized his best friend for wanting to go to prom instead of helping him with his Margo problems. He refuses to see Margo’s friend fairly because of something SHE told him (which was unfounded in my opinion) and judges her even though she also goes along to find her. There’s no character development and no importance lesson or theme unless you count “don’t go looking for someone who doesn’t wanna be found and expect to be rewarded like a knight in shining armor”. God I hated this book.
Now to the outlier: The Fault in Our Stars. I know the internet went mad over this book, especially when the film was coming out. I know a friend of mine had read it for an English project and said she cried and I had to read it because it was so good. I really wanted to like this book, honest. It was the first of his books that I read. But it was so overhyped. Their whole story is meant to be tragically romantic, but it tried too hard. And it was unrealistic. I get cancer. I get the tragedy of it all. It doesn’t change the fact that these kids knew each other for not very long and went crazy with it. Maybe it had something to do with their brushes with death, but idk. Also, I’m not in love with his portrayal of depression. I get having it as a symptom of dying or whatever that crap. I understood Hazel’s reluctance of her youth group. What I don’t understand is how it magically disappeared when she meets this boy, and then appears again after he died. (I mean I’m being reasonable and not counting her grief obviously Jesus Mary and Joseph). Idk if that counts as emotional dependence yet. And he was overrated as a character. Like your girl has 0 sets of functioning lungs and you over here pretending to smoke for a damn “metaphor” man get out of here with that shit. What teenage boy is that deep or cares that much to make a point. He was head-over-heels for this girl. Who the fuck goes across the country and has sex with someone like that? Anyway, it wasn’t the worst book ever, but definitely overhyped. I know it’s based off Ester Earl (is that her name?) but I need to read her book This Star Won’t Go Out, because I’m fairly sure Hazel is based off her and nothing else is related. I would’ve liked to maybe see it from Augustus’s perspective though.
Honestly go for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which isn’t the best, but certainly better and more readable than what’s on this list here.
Disclaimer: I have not seen any film adaptations of these books.
And I know I’m gonna regret this anyway, but do you agree with me? Do you not? Comment below and let’s see how long we can keep a civil discussion going (Madelyn and Gwen, I apologize for the shitstorm of hate that might happen here).