John Green's books for young adults have sold in their millions, and made him, according to Time magazine, one of the world's 100 most influential people.
The Wall Street Journal reports that, with his best sellers 'The Fault in Our Stars', 'Looking For Alaska' and 'Paper Towns', he's been credited with "ushering in a new golden era for contemporary, realistic, literary teen fiction, following more than a decade of dominance by books about young wizards, sparkly vampires and dystopia".
While John Green himself plays down his influence, his sales don't lie, making him the 12th best-selling novelist in the world last year.
What are his messages that are so powerful they're being lapped up by young adults across the globe in their millions? Looking in particularly at 'Looking For Alaska', 'The Fault In Our Stars' and 'Paper Towns', here are just some of the life lessons John Green has taught his readers.
Embracing love and suffering:
Throughout all three of these novels, there are the recurring notions of not only love, but also the inevitability of suffering that can often come alongside it. Through the characters Hazel and Augustus ('The Fault In Our Stars'), Quentin and Margo ('Paper Towns') and also ‘Pudge’ and Alaska ('Looking For Alaska'), the readers can see how love can come in to your life in weird, wonderful and unexpected ways. For Hazel and Augustus this comes from attending a cancer support group. For ‘Pudge’ this comes as he moves high school and encounters Alaska, the beautiful, yet destructive, young girl.
Similarly, Quentin encounters Margo at school; however Margo properly comes in to Quentin’s life in a rather unorthodox way. In all three of these instances, we see the characters falling in love through scenarios and experiences that perhaps do not follow your conventional love story.
Green teaches his readers that with great love comes great suffering, seen with Hazel as Augustus passes away before her, with Quentin as Margo never returns from running away, and with Pudge as Alaska tragically dies in a car accident before their relationship fully gets to blossom. Each love comes to a less than fairy tale-esque ending. However, Green points out through Augustus’ words that we have a distinct choice in who we choose to be hurt by, our suffering can be guided and maintained by our own choices. Both Augustus and Hazel agree that although they have lost their great love, the juice was worth the squeeze.
Hazel and Augustus seem entirely fearless in almost every aspect of their lives, both physically and emotionally. Despite their illnesses, they live life as positively and normally as they can. Alongside this, they are both fearless in love. Hazel and Augustus are aware that they have little time together, yet as a reader we can see them being open with one another and bonding in a way that most people can only hope for.
With 'Paper Towns', Quentin is fearless in his approach to help the girl he seemingly loves. When Margo goes missing, Quentin is more fearless and determined than ever, to be the person to find her and bring her home safely.
Green here teaches readers the important lesson of having courage - that to achieve something, whatever it may be, one must do all they can, but be prepared for any outcome.
The Idyllic And The Reality:
In all three novels the characters are faced with the battle between the idyllic and the real. Both Hazel and Augustus, in an ideal world, could live out their romance and be happy, however, they are faced with the reality that their love, like many great loves, has a limit.
Pudge and Quentin learn a tough lesson that both Margo and Alaska were not quite the people they saw through their rose-tinted glasses. It becomes apparent at the end of the novel that Pudge has perhaps not dealt with the reality in front of him, which is that Alaska is an emotionally unavailable, unstable young girl.
Quentin, like an old-fashioned chivalrous knight, embarks on his quest to find and save Margo, only to discover she has no intention of returning. Here Quentin must face the harsh reality of his situation, and that with hindsight the outcome he had envisioned, was perhaps too hopeful.
Most importantly, Green teaches his readers that, no matter what the circumstance, there is always an opportunity to move on, a light at the end of every tunnel, a silver lining. As Augustus tragically dies before Hazel, she can take comfort in the fact that, although her suffering is great, she has been able to experience true love, something she did not think she would be able to encounter within her short life span.
We see Quentin and his friends saying goodbye and parting ways to begin their new journeys. Green shows that Margo was a harsh lesson learned for Quentin, but one he can learn and move on from.
Pudge, once realising he has been in love with a false perception of Alaska, celebrates her life with the rest of the school. This can almost be seen as a kind of closure for Pudge, to leave Alaska and his naivety in his past.
Green shows his readers that there are peaks and troughs throughout life. Some may experience unrequited love, suffering, happiness, great joy, but all these things have something in common, the opportunity for a new beginning.
'Paper Towns' is in UK cinemas from 17 August. Trailer below...