John Green's The Fault in Our Stars launched yesterday. There was a gathering.
It was Nerdfightastic.
John and brother Hank provided the tremendous, "WOOOOOOO-ing," Wave-doing, Harry Potter/Star Wars/DFTBA shirt-clad crowd with an amplified version of their vlog. John read from and talked about the book, and the audience had good questions. Hank sang his songs (like this one and this one), and the audience knew all the words. Also, there was a sock puppet, a timer, and a tutu.
It might be difficult to reconcile last night's goofy atmosphere with the book, which is about several teens' battle with cancer, but I do think they can exist in the same headspace. John says he's been working on TFIOS for twelve years; I'm sure that when he started it, he couldn't have imagined that one day he'd discuss it at an event featuring costume changes. I was reminded a bit of the RENT phenomenon: both stories unite people in the notion that lives with sadness, even serious sadness, are allowed to also have joy and love, and yes, it's acceptable to get really, really excited about that.
As important as John's books are (good realistic YA novels are nothing to sneeze at this decade), the Nerdfighter phenomenon has gone far beyond the books. In one of the moments that defined what the evening was, Hank played "Shake-a-Booty," and an audience member got up and danced. And then another member joined her, and then another, and soon most of the room was shaking its booty with be-yourself abandon.
We've been telling teens who don't fit one mold or another that it gets better. For many, it looks like it's getting better now.