We Don't Want More John Green
Before I begin, I would like to admit to loving John Green novels. I think he draws from his own personal teenage experiences with honesty and realism, asserts the importance and humanity of female characters, and has a witty, very readable style. I've read all his books and would not question picking up whatever he should release next.
It's safe to say that I've been won over with the talent that is John Green. It's safe to say a lot of people have.
Therefore, you would imagine that to be told an upcoming novel "is just like John Green" would make me run out and buy it. Oddly, it has rather had the opposite effect. So often now I see new releases come onto the market with a "John Green approved" selling point that the title not only means very little, but rather I am irritated by the lack of effort going into defining new talent, individualising debut writers.
I understand that it's probably a compliment, but after a while the tagline "for fans of John Green" and "if you loved John Green" must become tiresome. Somehow I believe that writers write hoping to become their own person in the literary scene - not the next John Green, not the next anyone. They pour themselves into sixty to seventy thousand words, give or take, spend months or maybe years crafting characters and a story that they feel they must tell, just for it to be published under this increasingly-watery umbrella description: "like John Green".
It's not that I dislike Green. It's not even that I'm tired of books like Green's. I am however growing weary of seeing an author's distinctness drowned out like this.
For example, 'Extraordinary Means' by Robyn Schneider was promoted with the description "like John Green". Jenn Bennett's 'Night Owls' was similarly pushed as "better than John Green". I don't want to assert that these books are so unbelievably dissimilar to John Green that it was an unfair judgement, but I didn't enjoy these books because of their likeness to Green. I enjoyed their unique stories, I loved their interesting perspectives and new characters. I loved them for being as distinct as people are. Robyn Schneider and Jenn Bennett have more to offer than a shadow of John Green's voice and story-telling capabilities. Robyn Schneider and Jenn Bennett have Robyn Schneider and Jenn Bennett to offer - two excellent individuals within the YA market.
With this appearing to be a golden age for YA, and more titles being released every month, it seems to me to be a shame that we focus on one popular author, and list all else in the John Green umbrella category. I love John Green, yes, but I love other writers too and not just because they're similar. Besides that, how are new writers ever meant to be appreciated as talented individuals if their main selling point is their likeness to another writer?