Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

John Green, a Look at One of YA’s Most Influential Authors

Young Adult Fiction (also known as YA fiction) has become far more prevalent in the past few years. Young Adult novels have gone from charting the New York Times bestsellers list to dominating Hollywood to becoming full blown pop culture phenomenons. Authors in YA literature have become household names and generated fiercely loyal fan bases. Amid this phenomenon, no list of influential YA authors would be complete without author John Green.

John Green certainly has an impressive resume to boast. Several of his novels have been on the New York Times bestsellers list, while also amassing critical acclaim. This summer, his novel The Fault in Our Stars became a major motion picture topping the box office charts, while his other novels Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska are now in the works to become movies in the following years. To top it off, he was included in TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list, with a beautiful dedication by actress Shailene Woodley. At this point you have either a) read his books or b) wish your friends would stop obsessing over them already.

But, what exactly is the attraction towards John Green? What makes him standout from other YA authors and why has he become such an influential author for this generation?

One major reason is the fact that he’s made himself so accessible to his fan base. Aside from writing Young Adult fiction, he’s also developed Crash Course, a YouTube channel alongside his brother Hank Green, that provides educational videos on subjects ranging from AP Level history to literature (the literature ones are extremely helpful if you decided to binge watch Breaking Bad instead of reading Hamlet) to psychology, biology, chemistry, etc. He’s created a community of “nerdfighters,” a fan base consisting of millions of teens whose main quality is, well, being nerdy. In the majority of his interviews and videos, he projects this brilliant, witty, goofy persona that posseses an almost contagious enthusiasm. In an article for Mental Floss, writer Jessica Grosse sums up his appeal in the following statement: “It’s this hyper-contemporary combination of endless curiosity, Internet Community, and a do-gooder spirit that has made Green the pied piper of a certain kind of young nerd.”

Whether he’s discussing the role of fate in Oedipus Rex during a Crash Course Literature video, or answering fan’s questions through a sock puppet, the passion and excitement he feels for his work and his audience is self-evident.

This kind of exuberant enthusiasm is also evident in his novels. His characters tend to posses deeply cultivated passions, such as Miles Halter’s obsession with last words in Looking for Alaska, Hazel Grace’s obsession with the novel An Imperial Affliction in The Fault in Our Stars or Collin Singleton’s obsession with anagrams in An Abundance of Katherines. This probably stems from the fact that Green understands that youth and enthusiasm go together like peanut butter and jelly. As teenagers and youg adults, we are engaged and obsessed with so many things, from sci-fi fandoms to politics, to environmentalism to Tumblr. While many adults would see the enthusiasm teenagers have towards Doctor Who or chemistry as naïve, strange, or even a little unhealthy, as an author, John Green has been able to transmit the message that enthusiasm is great and should be applauded. In short (using his singular catchphrase), “Don’t Forget to be Awesome!”

Another important aspect of John Green’s popularity among young audiences is his ability to portray the difficulty of adolescence with sensitivity, intelligence, and respect. Shailene Woodley, in her dedication for John Green, wrote, “I think John hears the voices of teenagers. He acknowledges the intelligence and vulnerability that stem from those beautiful years when we are, for the first time, discovering the world and ourselves outside of our familial stories.”

Many (if not all) of Green’s stories deal with the concept of journeying, specifically the metaphorical journey young adults go through. While the majority of young adult authors tend to write on this concept, Green tends to make the journeys in his novels both physical and metaphorical. We see how his character Miles Halter journeys to a boarding school in Alabama in order to seek a “Great Perhaps” in Looking for Alaska. We read how Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters engage in both a physical journey to Amsterdam in order to meet her favorite author as well as an emotional journey to understand cancer, love, and death in The Fault in Our Stars.

John Green treats his readers with intelligence and wit. He tackles philosophical questions in his books because he understands and appreciates the wisdom, thoughtfulness, and brilliance that teenagers possess that allow them to tackle these kinds of questions.

As a fan of John Green’s work, I hope his success continues to grow. His work is honest, humorous, and treats its audience with the respect and intelligence they deserve. 


Follow HCND on Twitter and Instagram (@hercampusnotredame), and like us on Facebook

Images 1234

I'm a junior in Pasquerilla East Hall and am majoring in PLS and Political Science. I hail from Bayamon, Puerto Rico and as a result I wholeheartedly believe that depictions of Hell should involve snow instead of heat. In my free time I write, watch shows like Doctor Who/Steven Universe, read as many articles from EveryDay Feminism as humanly possible, and binge Nostalgia Chick on youtube.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️