Amy Analyzes: Is the “John Green Effect” Really a Thing?

Lately I feel like I can’t go a single day without seeing an in-depth think piece on John Green and TFIOS and the “John Green Effect.” What is this effect? For me, he is a great YA author, someone whose books I’ve loved and kept with me for years now. BUT suddenly, people are either worshipping the ground he walks on and calling him the “savior” of YA, or demonizing him, making him out to be some kind of malevolent force taking agency and popularity away from female authors. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. You don’t have to like John Green or even have feelings on the subject at all. But I think it’s reaching a new height, and it’s unfair to pin the success of writers like Rainbow Rowell solely on positive reviews by John Green, who also gave a glowing review to Markus Zusak, for the The Book Thief. Rainbow Rowell HERSELF recently tweeted sarcastically about this issue. So have Maureen Johnson and Sarah Dessen. (She talks about the media trying to turn YA writers on each other, which was really interesting to me).

I wanted to talk about this because I feel like the positive feedback is getting saccharine and over the top, but the negativity is ludicrous to me. I bought E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars this afternoon, and when I saw a blurb from John Green on the cover I immediately wondered if this would be another Rainbow Rowell situation, where the success of the book is pinned on John Green, and people get into these great debates over it. I realize I’m now a part of this debate, but I read this really great post by Tara at The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say SHH, who summarizes the situation really well, and includes links to OTHER people discussing it too. I personally feel like it’s wrong to attribute a society full of problems to one person, especially when he is forever proving those ideas wrong anyway.

I was particularly inspired to write this after watching this video:

This comes nowhere close to the amount of thought that has gone into this well worn subject, but I thought it was something worth discussing! Does anyone else have thoughts on one John Green?

5 comments

  1. I’d actually never heard of this topic, though it’s interesting to think about. I loved Fangirl, and had no idea John Green and Rainbow Rowell had anything to do with each other, aside from knowing each other. Nice post 🙂

  2. I’ve never met John Green, but I’ve read his books and watch him on YouTube here and there. He’s a popular writer who seems happy to see other authors succeed, and I think that’s great. I feel like if he was a woman/minority/both, the media wouldn’t be as concerned about his fame. Rather, they would applaud him, which makes me wonder if this isn’t a strange sort of reverse discrimination.

    To be honest, though, I *do* think he is a bit overrated. I enjoy his stuff but he isn’t one of my favorite YA authors (I much prefer Megan McCafferty, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell). However, that’s no reason for me to say that his success is undeserved any more than, say, Veronica Roth (who I think is a far inferior writer to John Green). For me, it’s not about male vs. female as much as it is about wanting to see talented authors of any age, race, and gender get the recognition they deserve. I don’t want diversity just for the sake of diversity (if it means lowering the standards of publishing/literature, that would suck), but if there are talented authors who are being pushed aside because they’re minorities, that isn’t right either (of course). Even if that is the case, I don’t see how John Green is supposed to fix that. Should he stop writing to give others a chance, like that bitter author said about J.K. Rowling a couple of months ago? (I would post the link, but I didn’t save it.)

    Thanks for posting this; it was really interesting. And I agree with you: it’s a fascinating idea that it’s all just to create drama between authors. I wish authors could make it into the spotlight because of their merits instead of because of petty things like this.

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