Nothing annoys me more than a disclaimer. I think it distorts the notion that we are allowed to speak and express ourselves freely. But I have to put one here of this just to say that I am a huge fan of John Green and that I love his books and the community he has created that surrounds them. This is by no means an attack on him.
Two phrases that I have seen thrown around the blogosphere and the twiterverse lately are “Greenlit” and “Green Bump”. I promptly looked them up, and to be perfectly honest, I was a little bit horrified. “Green Lit” is essentially books that are said to be similar to John Green’s novels. Essentially and normally young adult contemporaries. The “Green Bump” phenomena refers to John Green’s seal of approval given to a novel. Works such as Divergent and Eleanor & Park have both supposedly received an endorsement and a bump from John Green.
I have a lot to say on this matter. But I think it would be bet to condense it. So here goes nothing. All the happenings will be explained. But then I will give my thoughts on them after!
I first started noticing these phenomena around 6 months ago. There will be a timeline of articles below to see how and where I found them. It started with people saying that John Green was the reasons why novels such as Divergent and Eleanor and Park were successful. With enthusiastic reviews in the New York Times and constant recommendations over at the Vlogbrothers channel. It is understandable that people will attribute the success of many mentioned novels to him.
A few months later, especially when the TFIOS filming was in full swing, I started to see his name everywhere. Every book I looked at was “for fans of John Green” and each edition promised to “find your next Augustus Waters“. John Green was a huge name in the bookish and blogging community. This is and was a given, a well-earned given at that. But now he had found fame on the outside of this huge community. Unfortunately, with this, comes hate.
My opinions on this matter may forever biased because I am a huge fan of John Green.
There is no questioning whether John Green’s reviews and recommendations may have helped a little bit when it came to the sales of novels such as We Were Liars, Divergent and Eleanor and Park. However, to attribute all of the novels success to one author, is simply ludicrous. Not only do I find it ludicrous, but it is an insult to E. Lockhart, Veronica Roth and Rainbow Rowell. Let’s face it, as reviewers, as a reviewer my self, we can sing a novel’s praises as much as we like. However, in order for it to catch on, people have to like it. Essentially John Green can throw as many matches as he likes. In order for a novel to take the YA lover by storm, as did many of the books that have had a “Green Bump”, they need to be good. There is no denying that an initial buzz may have been created by him. But the test of time, they have stood. They still reign supreme because of the novel’s content, their stories and journey’s.
Saying that John Green didn’t help maybe naive. Saying that a whole novel’s success was down to him is a god, damn, insult.
The concept of ” Green Lit” infuriates me. My thoughts on it are basically mirrored in a phrase Kelly Jensen said in a recent article “part of a trend”. It is simply a term, a reductive term at that, coined by people who thrive on the concept of the bandwagon and making money. It snaps the ankles of well written novels making sure they will never stand on their feet and belittles them to a trend. It may sell more copies of them in the short-term. But in the long-term the novel will be forgotten in the abyss of “book like John Green books”.
On a final note, I want to leave you with these two images:
To clarify, these are both on the same book. Two references to John Green and his novels. On the same book. Talk about bandwagon, jumping in on people’s fame, seizing the moment and piggy-backing on other people’s success. Also, talk about pigeon-holing. Another piece of “Green Lit” and another part of a trend.
Young Adult Publishing and the John Green Effect.
Kelly Jensen on: The Reductive Approach to YA Revisited: Contemporary YA & Generosity to Readers
Malinda Lo’s take on it
“End John Green” and Other Fallacies
The NYT review of Eleanor and Park