Sunday, May 18, 2014

John Green: YA Superstar... and savior?

With the release of The Fault in Our Stars movie just weeks away, I’m seeing John Green everywhere. (Not in person, though that’d be so cool!) He was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2014, TFIOS was EW’s cover story last week and the nerd-hero was featured on Buzzfeed. John Green has exploded into a household name (or close to) and while that’s great, I’m worried about the ramifications of his celebrity status on YA.

Don’t get me wrong, I love John Green. I’ve read TFIOS and all his books except one (I’m saving Looking for Alaska but I’m not quite sure why). I watch vlogbrothers semi-regularly. I live in Indianapolis and feel a certain kinship.

But with all the press around TFIOS, articles about Mr. Green and his bestsellers are appearing everywhere and not all of them are accurate. They’re turning him into the savior of YA contemporary fiction—even the savior of YA overall—from the awful dregs of vampires and supernatural romance and UGH fantasy. (Sarcasm, because of course I love fantasy.)

This has been on my mind a lot in the past month, but I didn’t know how to put it into words. So luckily someone did it for me. But she did it WAY better than I ever could have. Last week, Justine Larbalestier tweeted THIS blog post by Anne Ursu. The article not only hit on my feelings but went into more depth than I ever could have. I even learned a thing or two. (And it reminded me that even though I may be a YA expert in the bookstore where I work, there are many more seriously intelligent and tuned in YA experts out there that have years and years of experience with YA, MG and the publishing world.)

Anyway, I LOVE this article. Oh, and THIS one too, where a YA librarian with over 20 years of experience (and over 2000 YA books read?! WHAT?!) addresses the recent media portrayal of YA.

And one more, because who doesn’t love an accurate and interesting portrayal of John Green that just happens to have been published by my hometown newspaper. (I didn’t go searching for this one—it popped up on my feed as a pleasant surprise!) Key to this one’s accuracy: they didn’t try to interpret John Green’s success and explain his impact on YA but just let John speak for himself.

So if you’re a YA enthusiast, expert or merely an occasional reader, keep a steady diet of don’t-believe-everything-the-media-tells-you because sometimes they’re right and sometimes they are more than wrong. Sometimes they actually do their research and sometimes they say things just to say things.

Don’t let the bestsellers define a genre. Don’t let one author’s spotlight throw the rest into the shadow. And for goodness sakes, read diversely.

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