This week marked the beginning of our big project in Weblogs in Wikis. After submitting a proposal and getting it approved by our professor, I delved into it without really knowing what I was getting myself into. The intent was to read five young adult novels and compare them in order to evaluate what has made the genre so popular. While our professor was concerned that this might be too vague, I have high hopes that the deeper into this I get, the more specific it will become.
For the first week I read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. When I submitted my proposal for this project, I don’t think I was aware of just how much work I was undertaking. Think about it. I vowed to read one book a week. For someone in college, and not to mention working, this is surprisingly difficult.
But I pulled it off by the skin of my teeth. Luckily, The Fault in Our Stars is an excellent novel. I’ve read it once before, but I wanted it to be fresh in my mind for the project. With the goal I outlined in mind – to discover “what factors have caused such an explosion of enthusiasm in both teenagers and adults alike” – I combed through the pages and experienced the story of Hazel and Augustus all over again.
I wrote a review. Again, this was more difficult than I imagined it to be. I wanted to explore the themes and events within the book and not give away the plot for those who haven’t read it. After all, that is the purpose of a review. I asked myself questions like, “Is it because we have all lost someone? Or maybe because there is a desire embedded in each of us to find a love as consuming?”
When I turned the final page, I sat there and thought about what I’d read for a long, long time. Then, once the review was finished, I came to the conclusion that “there are more themes than just romance; it has also been labeled contemporary and family fiction. John Green pulls no punches in sparing his audience from feeling their pain. Which is why I believe – while the love between Hazel and Augustus is certainly an alluring factor – young adults appreciate this title so much. It’s real.”
Next I researched the book’s background, as according to my proposal:
I intend to read numerous interviews with the author and find their inspiration or drive to write such a story. I also plan to browse fan sites or outside reviews to discover what audiences most identify with when it comes to these books. This may include combing through YouTube videos, Tumblr posts, Pinterest boards, and Twitter feeds. A large majority of the audience for young adult books are familiar with and often use these sites.
I fell down the rabbit hole and wrote a post documenting this online journey. There were so many sources that my head spun. The fan base for The Fault in Our Stars are relentless in their enthusiasm and participation in the story. It simply wasn’t possible to view it all. But I did notice that “a majority of them centered around the two main characters, making me realize that the romance was a major draw for readers.”
I did research on the author himself and what inspired him to write such a unique novel. This included watching several interviews on YouTube. John Green is an author with a very strong online presence, and I certainly wasn’t short on material to draw from. Not only did he share what sparked the idea, but he also mentions other directions the book took before landing on shelves.
And I couldn’t forget the movie. Just the trailer had millions of views, and most of the fan art depict the actors that played these characters. To be thorough, I did rent it on iTunes and watch it. It followed the book extremely well, and it only seemed to fan the flames of excitement for John Green’s followers. Even I found myself affected by the chemistry between Hazel and Augustus. That was the moment it hit me: Not only could I evaluate the responses and reactions of other readers, but I could take a look at my own, as well. This may seem obvious, but I approached the project with the notion that I needed to remain impartial.
My post wrapped up with the realization that “ultimately, there seem to be two things that made this story such a success: the love story and the sincerity of the characters’ struggles with this disease. There is no pretty wrapping when it comes to their pain. Hazel and Augustus are also real in their quirks, conversations, and revelations. People respond to love and being genuine.”
I’m interested to see what revelations reading the other books will bring.