I am a bad Nerdfighter.
I don't know whether anyone has talked about the Vlogbrothers or Nerdfighting or puppy-sized elephants on this blog before, but since the nature of The Red Shirt Crew is what it is, I'm going to go ahead and assume that everyone knows what I'm talking about. Short history of Libby and Nerdfighting: I love the Green brothers and have a slight preference for Hank over John (although I've read and loved all of his books.) I don't watch all the videos as they come out; I tend to catch up once a month or so, watching everything back-to-back, mainly because I'm a lazy bum. I'm not really steeped in Nerdfighteria, I'm more dancing through it -- a fair percentage of my friends are Nerdfighters, and I get most of the references and love the wonderful nerdy culture that has been created through it. But I don't take it life-or-death seriously, which... has caused me some problems this week.
Hence the Bad Nerdfighter-ness.
As everyone with their nose in the literary world probably knows, John Green's latest book is coming out on January 10th! Huzzah and hurrah! Get out the party hats! Only about a week, people! That's no time at all! We can handle that! After all, we've all got each other for support! Because we all have to wait for it together, right? We all have to suffer the misery of waiting! Universal Nerdfighterly suffering! Oh, the glory!
Well, suffice it to say that (as everybody probably knows by now), Barnes & Noble's made a mistake and shipped about 1,000 copies of The Fault in Our Stars early. Three weeks early. As in, last Thursday. And, well, I was one of the "lucky people".
In a haze of happy oblivion, after receiving the standard mechanical e-mail informing me it was coming, I posted this status on my Facebook wall.
So I did a little digging. Google is your friend in times like these. According to some devoted stranger's Tumblr, Barnes & Noble's had screwed it up and John was annoyed and it was a problem. The person whose Tumblr it was finished their announcement by vowing not to read the book until its proper publication date. They urged other people to go along with their oath, professed a very specific excitement for January 10th, and proclaimed love for John and Hank forevermore.
Sour, I thought gleefully, and ignored it. That person's opinion surely couldn't be shared by my Nerdfighterly friends. Who would pass up the opportunity to read it early?! It wasn't like I was going to spoil it or anything.
Eventually the package arrived in the mail, and I tore it open and read it in one night. The first chapter has been read aloud on Youtube by a variety of different people, but the second and third and fourth chapters were riveting, beautiful things. I was up until 3 AM reading. I don't remember exactly what was known about The Fault in Our Stars before I read it, but I do know John has talked about its dealing with terminal illnesses, so you can understand why it was so hard to put down. This really was life-and-death stuff. At 3 AM, it's easy to forget that books aren't real. Especially wonderful world-shaking books like this one.
And I finished it, and I stared around in shock, and wondered what I could possibly do next. Going to sleep wasn't an option. I finally decided I'd go back to my dear friend Google and see whether any other early readers had reacted the way I did.
Only I couldn't find them.
Apparently the early shipping had been a bigger deal than I'd thought.
John Green's Twitter was overflowing with pathos about it. It had been embargoed, he said -- how on earth could this have happened?! Tumblrs were rallying. Bloggers had their teeth on edge. Thousands more Oaths had been made. Desperately I checked Goodreads, which I've used this year to log my reading. A grand total of three other people had read the book. Everyone else had put it on their "to-read" list.
John Green had made a video in which he explained everything. Which I hadn't watched. And if I had -- if I'd merely glanced at the comments! if I'd even read between the lines through the sadness in his voice! -- I would have gotten the message and not read it.
Instead, I'd bragged to everyone within hearing distance about how I WAS GETTING IT EARLY AND ISN'T IT WONDERFUL AND WOULD YOU LIKE TO BORROW IT. I went to a Nerdfighter friend's house the next day. She wasn't amused. Nor was our other friend, who had just received a puppy-sized elephant called Lewis with whom she would be the best of friends for Christmas.
They despaired a little, and I went on searching for an excuse, and we agreed to change the subject. Unfortunately, by then, the novel had done its work, and I couldn't stop thinking about the bloody thing.
When you are desperately mourning a character you are not allowed to talk about -- to anyone, except maybe three strangers on Goodreads -- life isn't easy.
It's a kind of power I've never had before, and which expires on January 10th. If I were a seriously evil person, I could write a synopsis of the whole thing and post it on my blog. I could go to Nerdfighter forums and tell everyone everything. I could read aloud chapters Two and Three and Four in my extremely bad Irish accent on Youtube. I could bring up characters and plot events in conversation with my friends (although I'd only do that if I were a brave evil person, because being socked in the nose doesn't sound particularly enjoyable.)
I'm staying quiet. I'm doing a lot of eyebrow-wiggling and cryptic silences whenever the subject is brought up. Nothing can actually possess me to spoil it, I'd have a serious moral problem with that, but the thing is -- if I became an Evil Person overnight -- I could. I could spoil it for everyone. I have that power. And is it awful that I sort of -- enjoy that? Just a tiny, tiny little bit?
Maybe now I see why John Green was so upset about the early shipment.
But honestly? The thing that matters is that the book is good. It's really, really good. And whether you get it on January 10th or now, if you're among the oath-makers or the oath-scorners, you'll probably still feel the same way I did about it. You'll probably cry.
And I can't wait for that day, because then I can finally talk about it with someone.