Is John Green the new Nicholas Sparks?


John Green (L), Nicholas Sparks (R). Internet photo.

Emily Schulz, Staff Writer

Nicholas Sparks and John Green have two things in common: they write about desperate, hopeless, forbidden love and they are really good at making teenage girls cry. Green’s second movie deal for his book, “Paper Towns,” opens up the debate as to whether this young writer is following the same path of the romance-monopolizing author, Sparks.

On Oct. 28 and Nov. 4, Green posted video blogs introducing the executive producer, director, and screenwriters of “Paper Towns,” as well as the actors who will play Quentin, Radar, Lacey, and Angela.

Sparks has 19 published novels, nine of which have been adapted into movies with a tenth coming out in 2015. Green has five published novels, all of which have been optioned to become movies. At this point there are only two Green movies, but his extensive fanbase and popularity hint toward many more book adaptations.

The similarities between the two authors cause unfair assumptions to be made. Upon hearing about Green’s second movie I thought of the dominating name of Sparks, a man who figured out how to make a lot of money doing the same thing over and over again. Sparks has taken short cuts, writing the same love story with different characters. Green has been devoted to his art and has written five completely contrasting novels. Green’s “Paper Towns” was published in 2008 and was optioned for a movie in 2009 by Mandate Pictures. He wrote the screenplay but announced in 2010 that the movie will not be developed due to “creative differences.” Finally, Fox 2000, the production company that also bought the rights to “The Fault in Our Stars,” is making “Paper Towns” into a movie.

It is too rash to say that Green is the new Sparks. I define the difference between a good story and a great story by the effect it leaves with me. I have read over a dozen Sparks books and always finish feeling that I’ve read the exact story before. The plot is similar in each novel and while he has been successful with readers who enjoy consistency, I find myself hoping that the next book will have just a little more influence in my life. For me, the impact left after one of Green’s books is continuous. The characters exist even after I’ve turned the last page. I find myself wondering about details of the plot, questioning how characters would feel in what-if scenarios and going through the stages of grief over a real or metaphorical death. Sparks’ books with his cookie cutter plots, people rowing boats in lakes and disapproving fathers does not compare to the thought-provoking work of Green. I have a perspective on aspects of life that I did not even contemplate before. Green is not the next Sparks—he is something of his own entirely.

Green continually opens the minds of his readers, he has changed the way I think of metaphors and infinite space, and he merits a distinction among other young adult authors to reflect his accomplishments, not a comparison to the unexceptional thoughts of Sparks.