My first thought is simple: we should close read Huck Finn to understand it better. There are always layers to a book and to a character, as there are with people. The closer you look and more time you spend getting to know them, the deeper you can understand and appreciate them.
It reminds me of how I really disliked one of many best friends when I first met her. Upon first interacting with her I identified her as a crazy type-A personality. We totally clashed. The more time I spent with her and the more time I thought about her actions and why she did them, I could tell all of the crazy shit she’d say and do was coming straight from her heart and her desire to help out and make other’s happy or comfortable. I love her now, but not when I first met her. It was only through increased interactions with her did I see her awesomeness.
I find I have similar experiences with characters in books or books in general. I usually don’t like them that much when I first read them. Through discussion and the more time I spend thinking about them, I find I can get a better understanding of the characters or book in general. That “better understanding” usually goes hand in hand with appreciation of the work and eventually liking it too.
If we like, appreciate, or understand a novel for reasons unintended by the author, I tend to agree with John Green—“you still win”. If you can be a more productive member of society benefiting yourself and others from what you learned by close reading a novel, that’s great. That could look like applying the discipline of persistence and analyzing texts closely to a job you get or learning to love a friend, among other scenarios.