Google+ YA Romantics: Trending Thursday: It's Not Easy Being (John) Green

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Trending Thursday: It's Not Easy Being (John) Green


There's been a lot of talk recently about the "John Green Effect" and so-called GreenLit, which is defined by the New York Times Book Review as "realistic stories told by a funny, self-aware teenage narrator. These novels tend to have sharp dialogue, defective authority figures, occasional boozing, unrequited crushes and one or more heartbreaking twists."

Okay, yes. But writing books like that -- blending the humor with the pathos with the snappy banter -- is not as easy as it looks. 

But it is eas(ier) to have a John Green-style cover. In fact, one of my commenters on last week's Trending Thursday remarked on the Green cover effect. I've noticed it too. Take a look:


The Fault in Our Stars Ask Again Later


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Rainbow Rowell is another author who writes wildly popular, quirky-charming realistic fiction. There are also a lot of Rainbow Rowell-inspired covers:

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And then there are what I think of as the chair covers...


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To me, the John Green lookalike covers are a little too close to the original, but I really like the trend of hand-drawn cover images. What are your thoughts? Tell me in comments!

46 comments:

  1. Love this-- especially the chair covers:)

    I'm a huge fan of both Green & Rowell's style so I say bring it on to any other authors writing in the same vein:)

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    1. Love both of those authors too! And I think that they make what they do look easy, when it's really not!

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  2. To be honest, the only John Green I can read is TFioS, the rest are just way too hard-hitting for me. As for the covers, I do love the trend both authors have set. Green's has a way of making you feel complacent, thinking that it's going to be light. Without reading the synopsis, that would certainly be my initial reaction...until you get clobbered by extreme feels when you eventually read the book. :)

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    1. These kind of books are my absolute favorite, so glad this is a new trend!

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  3. I think the Rainbow Rowell covers are too close to the original. They're adorable and I love the style but I also always think they are just another R.R. book.

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    1. All the chairs are pretty funny. There may be more.....

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  4. I think the covers are awesome. I also love the hand drawn covers! I think they are cute.

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  5. I love Rainbow covers because they are so simple...yes those covers do look alike for the John Green :)

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    1. I know. I love the simplicity and with a pastel cover and a drawing, it's hard to make those kind of covers look different!

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  6. I love the hand drawn covers. I understand why people copycat covers of authors, but sometimes they're just a little too close to the original. Like the No Place to Fall cover: it's too much like Paper Towns. So much like it, that the cover no longer makes me want to read it, it just reminds me that I want to read Paper Towns.

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    1. I agree -- when I saw that one, I thought, wow, that's really similar...

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  7. I'm not a huge fan of Rainbow, but I love Jonh Green. And I love those kind of covers!!
    They're simple and pretty, but I don't like when they're too similar to the original ones.
    Lis @ The reader lines

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  8. I love all those covers, but seeing them side by side makes the successors look like copy cats. The Ask Again Later especially, which almost looks like it should be part of a series with The Fault in our Stars.

    I'm a fan of Green (and Rainbow Rowell) but I'm glad that there is conversation going on that he is not the end-all, be-all, saviour of YA. He deserves the accolades he receives for his writing and for his work connecting with his fans and lexicon of nerdfighters. All of that is totally deserved. But sometimes it's like he's made to be this idol in YA when there are many fantastic writers that came before and after him who have changed YA as well.

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    1. True. I think he's amazing but of course there are other equally amazing writers out there. The whole GreenLit thing has sparked a lot of interesting discussions about gender etc...

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  9. Dude, that No Place to Fall cover . . . that is ridiculously similar. I hate that covers aren't original anymore. One cover is great and then you get 50 billion copies of it on other books and it becomes kind of a 'trend' and none of them are ever as good as the original.

    I do agree about the hand-drawn, artsy covers though. I've always loved those!

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  10. I love John Green's books. I hope all of his books can be movies!!

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  11. I don't think any author has much say on the cover of their books, so I wouldn't describe this as the "Green effect" or the "Rowell effect," but I do love all the covers here! Great job to the artists! :) I have yet to read anything by Rainbow Rowell, but I plan on reading Fangirl really soon, so that will be remedied as soon as I can get to it. John Green's books haven't really captured me, but I haven't read TFIOS....yet! I can't wait to read it! :)

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    1. I think most authors don't have a say, but I have a feeling that once you get to John Green level, you probably do....

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  12. I adore the hand drawn covers - especially Rainbow Rowell's. Their funky and eye-catching and unique. I didn't even think about the similarities between the Ask Again Later and Stars covers, but they do match!

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  13. Once again a great post. I enjoy the hand drawn covers too :-)

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  14. Hah, I've never noticed this before but totally seeing it now. Thanks for opening my eyes! ;)

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    1. When you put them side by side, it's pretty striking :)

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  15. You are super observant Jen, because although I'd seen the covers for G.I.R.L. and ASK AGAIN LATER, I didn't put two and two together for the books they were referencing until now. Hah! I'd noticed it before on other books and movie posters do this a lot too, but these escaped my notice.

    Love these trend pieces.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. Yes, movie posters definitely do the same thing.
      Glad you are enjoying the TT :)

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  16. I really don't like it when covers or authors copy other's styles...I mean, it's not "copy" per se, it's just like "more Green kind of stuff" But I read John Green because he writes like he does. If I read another author I want them to write different, you know? Gosh I'm being super eloquent in this comment. >.< Lol. But yeah! I totally noticed that Ask Again Later similarity too!

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    1. My theory is that as an author becomes popular, agents and pubs start looking for "the next X." I heard "we are looking for the next John Green" a lot at BEA last year. And it's funny to me, because he writes such a specific type of book/character/plot. But I'm glad that the funny/sad contemporary is such a Thing now, even though it's hard to pull off.

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  17. I have confession to make - I am not fan of John Green and his literary lookalikes. :/

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    1. Not everyone likes contemporaries. But I love them!!

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  18. GreenLit, lol. That's the first I've heard that but I totally get it. I didn't even notice the similarities with those covers and his til this but I also haven't read all the books you mentioned, except TFiOS. I noticed the Say What You Will cover and instantly thought it reminded me of Rainbow Rowell. I do like that style, though did I see they changed that cover? But hand drawn covers are really beautiful and I like them a whole lot.

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    1. I saw on GR that SWYW had two covers, though the chair one is my favorite and that's the one that is in the publisher's catalog. The new one is kind of a Green-Rowell hybrid, with the bubbles but in pastel.

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  19. it is kind of interesting to see how publishers try to use other successful authors to help promote other authors' books. I do like the hand-drawn covers. I think they're fun and for specific book types they definitely fit. Very fun, Jen!

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    1. Yes, I think this goes on in all genres. I also see it a lot in women's fiction.

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  20. "GreenLit, which is defined by the New York Times Book Review as "realistic stories told by a funny, self-aware teenage narrator. These novels tend to have sharp dialogue, defective authority figures, occasional boozing, unrequited crushes and one or more heartbreaking twists."

    Okay, off topic of covers and all, but this is the dumbest definition I've ever read, though what the NYTBR knows about YA could fit in a teacup. Maybe. That is not GREEN LIT, that's the YA genre as a whole. And it wasn't invented by John Green by any stretch!

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    1. Ha -- yes, it's sometimes painful to read accounts of YA from people who don't seem to read -- or write - in the genre. That description was actually in a review of Winger and was written by the guy who wrote The Year of Living Biblically. So ... yeah.... I wouldn't say it's the best description.

      I tried to come up with my own in my TFioS review and not sure I did any better. I said:

      1. somewhat awkward, whip-smart guy characters.

      2. slightly madcap, larger-than-life girl characters who are worshipped from afar by #1.

      3. witty, whiplash-inducing dialogue

      4. a quest

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  21. I do like the hand drawn as well!
    But Green is a hard almost impossible style to replicate

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    1. That's exactly what I think!! Love the idea of more great contemporary YA, but no one can do what he does -- and they shouldn't. They should find their own unique and wonderful voice.

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  22. I didn't really notice the effect on the covers, but I did notice that many authors want to copy John Green's style/way of story telling, but it's really hard to do so, because in my opinion he's just unique!

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    1. I SO agree. He's one of a kind, and that's the way it should be. And, as Carrie points out above, there are also other fantastic YA writers who are completely different and equally good.

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  23. I love all these covers and I want to read all these books. I love John Green's books, so comparisons or copycatting doesn't really bother me. I just hope there aren't any negative consequences to this. I saw where Julie Murphy was being compared to John Green because of her "cancer" book, but that comparison is so off the mark. But if it gets people to read a great book that they might otherwise have missed out on, there's no harm in that, right?

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  24. I'm so glad you mentioned this post on my blog. :) A lot of these covers are uncanny, borderline plagiarism of the artistic short. Granted, I love No Place To Fall cover (as you know!), of course. Another example for a similar map cover is Let's Get Lost. i think that one would be my favorite of the three.

    I'm tired of the John Green comparisons already and I don't' like the term GreenLit, though I suppose I'd take that over SickLit (yeah, that's a thing). Haha. I love Rainbow;s cover, I adored Eleanor and Park. Great post.

    --Amber

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