Writes Okay Books and Is Often Funny on the Internet
About the Author
John grew up in Florida with his parents and his brother Hank, attended a southern boarding school that would later inspire his novel Looking for Alaska, and graduated from Kenyon College. Before he became a writer, John was actually in training to become a minister. He is married to Sarah Green (sometimes referred to as "the Yeti"), a museum curator. They have two young children, Henry and Alice.
When John is not writing books, he spends a lot of time developing internet content with his brother, Hank Green. Many years ago, John and Hank began a project called "Brotherhood 2.0" in which they challenged themselves to stop communicating in text and instead post a short video every weekday to update each other on their lives. They posted the videos to Youtube and quickly gained a following, which was promptly named "nerdfighteria." John and Hank continue to post funny videos, but they also create educational videos through their program "Crash Course," and they often raise money and awareness for various charitable causes.
Common Themes in John Green's Work
Another topic that John explores in several books is the senselessness of loss: this shows up in Alaska, Paper Towns, and Fault in Our Stars.
John Green's Writing Style
- His books are all told in the first person.
- In narrative parts of the story, he tends to write long sentences, but not complex ones. Most of his sentences are simple or compound.
- In dialogue, he often uses short sentences and fragments to accurately portray how teenagers speak.
- Almost all of his sentences begin with the subject. (And the subject is usually "I.")
- He's not big on description of settings; he tends to get stuck in his narrator's thoughts and feelings instead.
- He swears frequently.
- He makes a lot of very specific pop culture references. (I wonder if this will make his books more challenging to understand 20 years from now.)
On a random page in a John Green book:
- Sentences vary in length from 2 to 42 words per sentence.
- Average sentence length is 18 words.
- 64% of sentences are compound; 36% are simple; none are complex.
Ingredients of a John Green Character
The big exception to this rule is Hazel Grace Lancaster, the protagonist of The Fault in Our Stars. Like Green's other protagonists, Hazel has spent most of her life observing rather than participating and taking risks, but unlike the others she does not hang out on the sidelines because she's worried she'll be misunderstood. Hazel has terminal cancer, and is therefore worried about getting too attached to people and letting them get too attached to her. Like the other protagonists, an event early in the story leads her to start taking risks for the first time, but this is more a story about her learning to love even when she knows it's going to hurt than it is a story about learning to see other people as real people.
She's also Green's only female narrator. Perhaps that's why I liked her the best.