John Green has become the favorite novelist of a highly critical group of readers in record time (both in the reading sense of the word and the sense of being crucial, complex): the teenage audience, passionate and irrational, which has made Green one of the best-selling authors worldwide in recent years.
The teenage audience is far more important than we might think, literally speaking. They have the ear of the publishing companies; the decisions they make when deciding which book to buy will shape the future of literature. It is through reading contemporary literature that they will also gain access to different acclaimed authors, depending on where their intellectual interests lie (understanding Euripides and Virginia Woolf are two different things altogether).
What is clear is that, for one reason or another, this group of readers prefers a sentimental read: love which, from the outside, appears to be complex (on the inside the couple adores one another, naturally). John Green knows this and that’s why his young adult novels focus on this theme. And, to be honest, in this genre he excels thanks to his ability to surprise readers who are normally incapable of looking beyond the horizon of their preconceived expectations.
The Fault in Our Stars is the author’s latest book and the one that catapulted him to fame. In this novel he combines the troubles of two teenagers suffering from cancer (a dramatic theme explored in great depth here in Spain by Albert Espinosa) and it is the structure of the book that leaves the reader petrified by the experience about which they have read. Without wanting to give anything away, at the end, all of the reader’s expectations are shattered, not because there is a twist in the plot, but because they hadn’t initially seen the importance of the narrative voice and had simply drawn the wrong conclusion.
The title of the book, The Fault in Our Stars, literally lays the blame on the stars, but its meaning extends far further than that, recovering a concept from classical Greek drama: fate, destiny. So the title means that what happens in the novel is what a higher authority (fate) has decided must be.
In all of his novels, Green’s characters try to escape their destiny, always related to love. All of the author’s novels (Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines and Looking for Alaska), published prior to this book, could be considered its precursors. The love is always the same – what changes is the situation in which it unfolds.
And it is because of this variety of contexts (while it may be difficult to identify with sick teenagers, it’s not hard to identify with the "losers" at school) that teenagers find a perfect reflection of what they're feeling in Green's novels.
What we should be wondering is why an American author is reflecting the feelings of our teenagers while one of the great family novels (with the word family also being understood to mean the community of neighbors from a residential American street) of the 21st century, Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen, may give us goose bumps, but it doesn't represent us.
Let’s hope that sooner or later, adolescents manage to free themselves of the American influence and return to their European roots, helping to preserve the soul of a nation, rather than American globalization.