The hunters game and twithlight
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John Green on Contemporary YA Fiction After reading the book, we are confident that Green wrote a masterpiece. Unlike Stephanie Mayer, who wrote Twilight appealing to an audience of inexperienced 13-year old girls, and Suzanne Collins, who wrote the Hunger Games, thinking of boys and girls alike. Green looks for “intelligent” readers. Green, following a tradition proposed by J.D. Salinger with “The Catcher in the Rye”. In the novel, Salinger addresses youth from an entirely different perspective, and so does Green. In “The Fault is in our Stars”, Green carries out the premise that teens want to be intellectually challenged. Although teenagers are “developing”, they have brains complicated enough to cope with issues such as death; love; and potentially fatal illnesses. Strictly speaking, to be able to address those questions, and turning them into teenager-related issues, is an effort that deserves praises.
The thing is that there is a large sector of people that consider that YA books must be a watered-down version of life –Stephanie Meyer among them. Those advocates of YA as a duller version of life, are committing a big mistake. Most teenagers want to be challenged, and read books that address their problems and thoughts, not books that speak about idealized situations in the mind of a girl who has never left home – As it is Bella’s case-. Those books are hard to relatable to as not many teenagers think that way. In a strict sense, reading a book that is about mortality, and young love, portrayed in an entirely different way, is like a sip of water after walking through a desert. Most writers are afraid to show the grimmest, and grittiest parts of life to young audiences, and that is not necessarily a virtue. Instead, if those books are looked for teenagers to learn about life, and how to be social, it is necessary that the books they read address life as it is. If not, we will find ourselves in the world where teenagers are still fascinated by idealized love and life. On the other hand, there is the issue that most of the books that address violence, do it in a dystopian world –Suzanne Collins- that is hard to relate to, and it is seen largely as a source of entertainment, rather than a book to learn from.
On the issue of John Green’s fame, and his alleged use of “The Fault is in our Stars” to catapult himself to fame. We can say that we do not consider this to be an issue. There is not –at least we do not see it- a use of emotional manipulation as a method of sales. Instead, we consider that the real hook from the book comes from how it is constructed, and the different focus it does to teen issues. Strictly speaking, there is not manipulative to talk about death in a book that is meant to be consumed by teens and tweens alike. Instead, it is a bold move that deserves the praise it got. Besides, the book is very well-written, as the author is not a foreigner who stumbled upon the genre. He had established a reputation as a solid YA writer and capitalized the success, and fame that comes from writing a book with “controversial” themes. Besides, Green was already famous by the moment he wrote, “The fault is in our stars”. He was known for being a video blogger in YouTube who addressed teen and adult subjects with equal ease. In his videos, as in his book, he spoke plainly about the issues teenagers live and face. He never put things in a watered-down way that many teens have learned to hate, a way that many teachers still have. If with his book, Green has done things other writers cannot, we see no problem with the accolades he has reaped. On the issue of teenagers’ brains being less capable of understanding fame and fiction as separate beings, I strongly disagree. A teenager is capable of understanding that a famous person has a persona, which relates to a constructed image created to appease the image fans have. In the same way, a famous person might have a private life on which it is entirely different than the person that gets interviews, and accolades.
The book presents different settings. In a way, the Indianapolis where Hazel lives is not a beautiful Indianapolis, it is a city seen through another’s eyes. It is Hazel’s city, a place she considers oppressive and rather lifeless. The same happens to Amsterdam, a city that evokes many things. Amsterdam represents the freedom both kids were not allowed to have in their hometown. It is a place where they both can be free. It is true that Hazel’s tone can strike us as alien, but it is also true that we are in front of a well-spoken girl. Green tries to make clear that Hazel is uncommon. She might behave as a typical teenager, but she is an opinionated girl who knows what she is talking about. The book can see unrealistic on those grounds, but keep in mind that although sophisticated, she speaks in a conversational tone that is not hard to follow. Hazel is not witty just for the sake of it, nor constructs phrases to be perceived as smart. The way she constructs her prose makes her a cultured girl, but not an alien to her time. When teenagers read, as we imagine Hazel does, they tend to imitate the prose of their favorite writers, even when they speak. The difference between an adolescent who reads, and another who does not, can be abysmal in terms of phrase construction. In a strict sense, “The Fault is in our Stars” would not be truer for teenagers if a couple of “What’s up dog?” where thrown in the book. We would not consider that Green intended to be famous with this book. We consider that he was truthful to the vision of teenagers he had in his mind. The mistake many writers commit, trying to be an extremely “teen” to appeal to younger audiences can be corny, and be disregarded by the readers, and the critic. Green constructed a vision of teenagers that are teenagers, but they are not “overly teen”. Teenage years are not about drama, they are about struggling, and changes. Sadly, the image media has on teenage years has been constructed by television series that have been failing to address subjects that imply teenagers.
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