My Old Grudge Against John Green, And His Writing
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My Old Grudge Against John Green, And His Writing

'The Fault in Our Stars' and 'Looking For Alaska' are the product of a copy and paste formula.

My Old Grudge Against John Green, And His Writing
World Maps Online

I would put a spoiler warning for "The Fault in Our Stars" and "Looking For Alaska" but neither one is really worth your time.

I do not like John Green. I am doing research to gather all the facts to validate my opinion. I did want to talk more about John Green and the various reasons as to why I detest him, but I realized I don’t know enough about him. I will never make judgment on something or someone I do not understand.

Instead, I’m going to talk about "The Fault in Our Stars" and "Looking For Alaska" and how they’re the same asfoihweouindkl thing. I’m probably not allowed to swear in these articles so instead I’m going to mash the keyboard angrily.

"The Fault in Our Stars" can be summarized as such: Two Mary Sues with cancer fall in love and one of them dies.

"Looking For Alaska" can be summarized as such: A poorly written teenager falls in love with a hot girl and then she dies stupidly.

These plots are almost exactly the same.

Young Adult Literature, as a concept, already seems like a failure in of itself. Being a teenager is not interesting. If you are between the ages of 13, and like 17, you are probably not as interesting as you probably think you are. Writing something that revolves solely on the world of young adults that is targeted toward teenagers is inherently not going to be that amazing of a story. There is nothing that amazing about that age that isn’t trumped by something that will probably happen later. Stories like Eragon, whose protagonist is a teenage kid, are still pretty good because there is so much more to the story than just the characters (and a majority of the characters are not teenagers). Of course, there are exceptions; there are exceptions to everything. Those exceptions are not present in the Green stories I’m discussing here.

The two most important characters in "The Fault in Our Stars" are Mary Sues. The second most important part of writing (the characters) is already terribly flawed (get it?). Characters cannot be without flaws, otherwise that is bad writing. The only real flaw to Augustus is that he’s somewhat egocentric and he’s a bit of a coward when he faces death, but those are quite minor and thus, do not excuse him of my criticism. Augustus has all the best parts of a young adult put into one. He’s super good looking, athletic, charmingly nerdy, adorably awkward, and really smart on multiple levels. He’s a creative philosopher without all the eccentricisms (I know that is not a real word) that creative philosophers usually have.

Wait. What’s that? Augustus is designed to cater to young women looking for the perfect guy so the book will sell really well? No! Of course not. That can’t be. It’s John Green after all! He’s such a nice guy.

The most infuriating thing about Augustus is his cigarette metaphor. Has anyone yet to figure out what the cigarette is a metaphor for? Does he even say it? I’m not entirely sure the word “metaphor,” is even the word he wants. I think he’s just naming the most common term in poetics (a term I use as a synonym for, "writing mechanics," again I don’t think an official term exists yet) to sound deep. I would say it’s a metaphor for power, but I don’t think August designed the metaphor at all so I don’t think it exists (we’ll get to Authorial Intent later.) The cigarette metaphor is something that the edgy kid at school, who writes depressing poetry, gets beat up for for even trying. Suddenly it’s deep and artistic when the attractive basketball player does it. Are you foihewd kidding me?

I feel somewhat unsure about calling Hazel a Mary Sue. She’s certainly very boring. She’s smart, pretty, and has the undivided attention of the perfect teenage boy. No perhaps she’s something else…

What’s this? Hazel is designed to be reflexive of the reader that this book is targeted toward so they can cater to their fantasy of the perfect guy falling in love with them? No! Of course not! John Green is so witty and charming, that would be preposterous.

I want to take a moment to say that the grenade metaphor is dumb and headache inducing.

Eventually they fall in love and meet Peter Van Houten, which is the only real interesting thing that happens in the story. Now, I’m afraid I have to digress for a moment. It is in this scene that Green slaps the faces of all writers (like myself) who believe that Authorial Intent is the absolute and only way art should be valued. Houten is the most hate-able character in this story. Somewhere in the story, he starts explaining what his characters are a metaphor for – I don’t remember the details, but I’m pretty sure he says that the Tulip Man is a metaphor for God. This implies that he designs his poetics, further implying that he believes in Authorial Intent. The most hate-able character in the story, the person that kind of acts as the antagonist (I forgot to mention: this story doesn’t really have an antagonist), designs An Apperial Affliction under the practice of Authorial Intent. I wouldn’t mind this so much if Green hadn’t made a video that specifically states that Authorial Intent is dumb and no one should acknowledge it.

Look! I found it:


To be entirely fair, every English teacher/professor I’ve ever had has said precisely the same thing. Even one of my own titled writers (Mitchell The Alchemist) agrees with John Green. Falkner them too I guess. I will always stand behind Authorial Intent. It is the vision of the artist that matters, not the interpreter.

The question of, "did John Green design Houten as a criticism to Authorial Intent?", has so much irony in it that I could probably write an article on that alone.

What’s very strange is that that video was very well written. I think John Green is good at projecting ideas, but not formulating plots or writing characters. I don’t know enough about him to say that the following judgment is completely valid, but this is what I think so far: John Green is an example of someone who knows a lot, but is not inherently intelligent – as are most people who can teach, but cannot write.

Anyway, there is not a lot of real tension in this story. As my writer, cowriter, and video editor Chris The Insane states, “all they’re doing is replacing the cooler more action packed danger, with the boring more realistic danger,” to act as some form of tension. The story does reflect a lot on dying, and the poetics of such, which is fine - especially for a story about cancer. However, a sense of tension with an ambiguous outcome is entirely absent.

I was once told by a person I used to be friends with that John Green tries to understand that some teenagers are really smart, so he tries to cater to them. If that’s your thing, then sure, do that. I don’t think it’s a good idea because it sounds boring, but here’s the dealio: the characters in Green’s stories do not act like real people.

Miles Halter (from one of Green's other books, "Looking for Alaska") has a hobby of learning the last words of famous people.

I should just stop there. (Yes, I did get that from Bro Science). Look I found that too:

This is not a thing people do. This is a copy and paste idea of what a generic interesting person might be able to do, to make Halter look like one of those rare teenagers that are actually somewhat interesting. Knowing the last words of random people is a symptom of someone who reads a lot of biographies, and does not serves as an inherent interest. Miles then goes to a boarding school where he has a really hollow friendship with his roommate, and meets an extremely attractive girl named Alaska.

Halter does not fall in love with Alaska; Halter wants to Falkner Alaska. Alaska is not that appealing of a friend to have. She’s, “moody,” as Martin puts it, which I would correct to all around unpleasant. She changes her mood (hence the moodiness) on an irrational and somewhat idiotic level. I almost get the impression that she knows how irrational her mood changes are, but doesn’t adjust her behavior so she can continue call attention to herself. She’s supposed to come off as unpredictable, adventurous, but at her core is sad and looking for a way out of her misery. This is somewhat accurate. While I find Alaska annoying, she does have the traits of a well written character. However, Green faces a challenge (which he fails) when making the love interest unbelievably attractive.

If the love interest is physically perfect, then the emotional connection between the protagonist and the love interest needs to be really well established to ensure a difference between the natural call of physical attraction, and the warm, internal happiness that is a romantic emotional connection. However, Halter seems to be tolerating her unpredictability for the sake of how attractive she is, rather than falling in love with who she is. I promise you this book would be very different if she had a normal level of physical attraction, but retained her personality.

What’s this? This book caters to the fantasy of boys wanting to sleep with really hot girls? No! John Green made a whole video explaining that the physical attraction between Halter and Alaska is totally emotional and authentic (it wasn’t).

Look! I found it:

Anyway, the primary issue between these two works is the similarity they share. They both feature a young adult finding a person they really like, then that person dies from a thing that's been in the background throughout the whole story. It’s a copy and paste formula. A, "plug and chug," if you will.

I have a lot more to criticize but I only have a week to write these so I’m going to have to leave it at that for now.

My name is Syto.

I talk about writing.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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