Most recently John Green did a whole thing on Twilight (here and here for more details). I went from disliking him but still interested in reading his books (or just this one) to pitying him because he seems so out of touch with reality and completely misses the point on why books like Twilight are deserving of “harsh” treatment. Critics aren’t making things up; they’re just pointing to what’s already there in the text.
It’s absolutely terrible that Stephenie Meyer had been and is still being personally attacked over her books. We should always call attention to these things, BUT that doesn’t mean we should overlook all of the controversial things Ms. Meyer chose to write about. That’s great that Mr. Green wants to stand up for and align himself with a fellow author (really it is–no sarcasm at all), but he doesn’t have to pretend to elevate her writing to a level unbeknownst to her critics to show his support. (Just say you support another author. We understand. By pretending there’s depth to be found in Twilight, you’re making me doubt everything you’ve ever written. This goes for everyone, not just authors.)
Tens and millions of people can be wrong, Mr. Green; this happens almost every day all over the world. (This also happens to be terrible evidence btw because tens and millions of people have been wrong in the past about a multitude of things and tens and millions of people will continue to stand on the wrong side of many things in the future.) The point is lots of people can be wrong, and lots of people can be wrong together. Just because so many people love a deeply troubled story like Twilight doesn’t mean there are depths to it that are beyond its critics’ reach and understanding. All those tens and millions of people loving Twilight doesn’t erase the fact that it’s a troubling book. Everything that’s wrong with it is still there, right in the text, whether or not you choose to see it.
Love and support whatever you want, but don’t choose to ignore its problems. You aren’t doing anyone or even yourself any favors by being willfully ignorant.
There was a time when I really, really wanted to read this book, if only to see what everyone was talking about. During that time, John Green seemed to me like a rare type of YA author who’s aware of his (target) audience and his influence on these people (teens). Even his interactions with this audience were appropriate because he knew how to navigate the minefield that is social media. He was one of the few authors I thought might actually take YA in a new direction, which is away from generic, derivative stories about petty first-world problems and steer the genre toward thoughtful social commentary that deal with real-world issues.
That time was yesterday before I saw this post.
I find the points he’s aiming to make in this post quite ironic in light of this book and its subject matter. Books belong to their readers, right, Mr. Green?
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The more I read about this book, the more I’m convinced it’s one of those emotionally manipulative ones that aim to make people cry. I usually put a lot of distance between my reading list and books like this, but just for this one, I’m willing to take a chance to see what all the hype is about. And also, to know how John Green writes, if only so I can use this knowledge as ammunition later on in book discussions.