Saturday, 21 May 2011

John Green!

I haven't been reading many new 'literary' type books at the moment that aren't literary criticism and essays, so I thought instead to write about one of my favourite young adult authors.

For those of you who are unaware of the wonder that is Vlogbrothers, Brotherhood 2.0 or DFTBA (Don't Forget To Be Awesome), John is the co-creator along with his brother Hank. I've followed them on Youtube for quite a long time now, and reading John's novels has always been one of those things that was on my to do list that I never quite got round to doing until last week.

I have to say that I wasn't expecting too much, as the quality of YA fiction can be dubious, and I don't like to get my hopes up; also I tend to find it difficult to connect to a male protagonist unless the writer is exceptions (e.g. JK Rowling, Tolkein etc). I shouldn't have worried.

My friend Alice very kindly lent me Looking for Alaska. I finished it within 3 hours and stole Papertowns from her the next day (for which I am forever in her debt).

The stories are original, clever and thought provoking, the dialogue both witty and realistic. The characters are not perfected beautific figures of hope for humanity - they're the kind of people you want to be friends with, and the kind of people I recognise parts of my own friends in. And this applies to ALL the characters - not just the two mains for a change.  What I love most is that John Green doesn't go for the easy happily-ever-after ending, and what we get instead is a much much better novel, even if I longed for Alaska to fall deeply in love with Miles. Let's face it, life doesn't always give us a happy ending.

So I'd like to thank John Green for brightening up a few hours for me last week, and reminding me that teen fiction does not have to be illiterate, uninteresting or generic. These books reminded me of why I wanted to do a literature degree, so now, with a bit of perspective, I'm back to reading my Tolstoy and Flaubert... lucky me.

So Catrin Says. xx


  1. I think YA fiction is some of the best around at the moment. It tends to deal with bigger topics than a lot of "does my bum look big in this" adult books.

    There is a current trend for dystopian writing which is particularly awesome at the moment, too.

    Plenty of literary prose is pretentious crap...just look at Catcher in the Rye! :P

  2. Honestly I think I'm just so put off by the sheer number of YA novels with vampires, werewolves or something similar in the title or on the cover that I tend to veer away, which is a shame as I still love all my old YA books.
    I'll agree, literary doesn't necessarily mean good, but so many books I've picked up recently are terribly written, or just have a bunch of long words thrown in occassionaly in the hopes of sounding clever. I'd rather have a simple well written book than a huge complicated text full of half thought out nonsense xx