My Problem with John Greene

John Green has created some of the best young adult novels in history. The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns are some of my favorites of all time. However, I’ve noticed that Green doesn’t like to give the reader what they’d want in an ending. TFIOS and Paper Towns are two perfect examples of this. TFIOS is the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, also known as Gus. Hazel Grace has stage 4 thyroid cancer and regularly attends a support group for sickly teenagers. There, she meets a boy named Augustus who is in remission from osteosarcoma. It took Hazel Grace some time to open up to Gus, being that she doesn’t really have friends because she was often ostracized due to her disease. Gus and Hazel Grace established a friendship and often did fun things together, like going to Amsterdam to meet Hazel Grace’s favorite author. We learn during the trip that Gus’s cancer has returned, but Gus isn’t very phased by this because he had a feeling it was coming. Shortly after they return from Amsterdam, Gus dies. This book invokes so many feelings in me, and a main one is sadness. I hated to have to read that Gus dies, but it was an inevitable fate for one of the characters. It only makes sense for one of the two main characters with a chronic illness to die, but it certainly isn’t the way I wanted their story to end. John Green does a great job of giving the readers the story that they want but not to the fullest extent. Green will sell you the slightest bit of a fantasy and rip it away by giving you the reality by the end. Another great example of this is Paper Towns. This story isn’t as sad as TFIOS, but it’s still a bit heartbreaking. Paper Towns is about a boy named Q who lives next door to a girl named Margo. Q has always had a fascination with Margo, even since he was a child. They were close friends as children but slowly drifted apart as they got older. One day, Margo climbs into Q’s window to get revenge on her boyfriend who cheated on her with a close friend. Q and Margo play pranks and her ex and friend and this gives Q hope that he can make his move on Margo. The next day, Margo does not show up to school and after a couple days she has been thought to have run away. After seeing a poster on her wall, Q begins to think that Margo is leaving messages for him to find her. He rounds up a few of his friends and one of Margo’s friends and they embark on a road trip trying to find Margo with the clues that he believes she left him. They find Margo in a paper town, which is a town that is on a map but doesn’t really exist, called Agloe in New York. As Q is about to profess his love for Margo, she states that she wasn’t leaving him clues to come find her, but leaving clues so that he would know she was okay. She left home to get away from her dysfunctional home life and tells Q that he should go home because she’s staying. John Green added most of the necessary components to Paper Towns to make it the quintessential romance novel. We have the mystery, the chase, the only thing we don’t have is the happy ending. Q spent days trying to find Margo, only for her to tell him that she wanted to be alone. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the story, but would it kill John Green to give up a happy ending one of these days? I don’t think so.In Margo’s defense though, she never told Q to chase her, and it wasn’t smart to assume that she would want him to run away with her just because he had romantic feelings for her. I, too, love a good women’s empowerment story, but that’s not what I came for. But if it were me would I assume the same? Absolutely. I have so many conflicts with both TFIOS and Paper Towns that it drives me insane, but I’m grateful for a young adult novel that actually explores that struggles of teens instead of pumping us with adult problems from the perspective of teens. Sure, cancer isn’t something that every teen experiences but many do and it’s good to let them know that they’re seen too.

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