“The Green Revolution” by Alexandra Alter, Wall Street Journal, 5/16/2014
Are you puzzled by the success of the Harry Potter series? Me, too.
Are you puzzled by the current craze for the Hunger Games? Me, too.
Don’t feel bad for not understanding teenaged mainstream. Thousands of professional writers lie awake every night trying to figure out what makes the next big, big thing for them. And, according to the Wall Street Journal article, the next big, big thing is already forming around the book The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green. I am only telling you this so you can keep up with your grandchildren. I have not read it and could not (yet) if I wanted to.
The release date for the book is still six months away and it is not even finished, but pre-orders already pushed it to the top on Amazon. John Green has been named by Time as one of the world’s 100 most influential people and draws crowds of fans wherever he goes. He already has five novels in print and makes videos for YouTube that have been viewed more than 6 billion times, no thanks to you, I’ll bet.
Green, 36, is unsettled by his fame. Writing is a lonely profession that typically attracts introverts with social problems. Green describes himself as a hypochondriac who suffers from anxiety: He avoids physical contact with strangers. He lives in Indianapolis. (I have been in Indianapolis, and that alone would mark him as problematic.)
The Fault In Our Stars is about two teenagers in cancer treatment who fall in love. If he can pull off such a schmaltzy theme, he deserves fame and fortune. The book, about supposedly real people, is seen as a turning point away from the obsession with fantastical themes involving wizards and vampires in a dystopian future.
The popularity of his YouTube videos is also puzzling, but what do I know? His catch phrase ending is often, “Don’t forget to be awesome,” abbreviated on T-shirts as “DFTBA” and signaled with crossed arms and middle fingers spread in Star Trek Vulcan-style. His fans call themselves “Nerdfighters.” Those same young fans habitually abbreviate in text-messaging and refer to his new book as “TFIOS” that has become an in-crowd code word.