Paper Towns by John Green
Quentin (Q) and Margo Roth Speigelman have known each other their whole lives. They live next door to each other; their bedroom windows face the other. Their lives have really only intersected twice in a life-altering, meaningful way. The first was at age 9, when they discovered something horrible in the park that changed them forever. The second was the night before Margo disappeared; the night she crawled through Q’s window at midnight for a night of adventure, the night a month before graduation that really woke him up to life.
Now that Margo has vanished, Q is learning more about this spunky legend and unrequited love of his life. She has left him a breadcrumb trail of clues and Q is determined to piece them all together and find her before it is too late.
I have tried to tackle Paper Towns twice, once in hardcover and once as an audio. I was never in the right place for it. Obviously since the movie is coming out soon I needed to read it first. This in itself is a detriment because I will never have my own mental image of Q and Margo as anyone other than Nat & Cara.
I am glad I decided to give the book another chance. Since I love Looking for Alaska (LFA) & The Fault in Our Stars (TFiOS), I can find those classic John Green elements in this. I understand what some readers (mainly adults) say about the similarity in his main characters, but I think all writers tend to get that way. John just happens to write intellectual teenagers with unrequited crushes, where someone like Sarah Dessen writes realistic girls in beachy towns and Stephen King writes horror. (Yes, I realize those are really broad generalizations, but you get the point.) I enjoyed the mystery elements of the story, and the fact that it was more than formulaic.
I’ve read plenty of reviews where adults said they didn’t like Margo and couldn’t find any goodness in her. I remember being a teen and I think she is a great look at being a teen, expectations, hormones, home life, and possible mental illness. Also the fact that Q loved her but didn’t know her (and vice versa) is really true to life at any age.
I thought the end was a bit rushed, but all in all I liked it. I could have read another 100 pages, but I’m glad that Green has a great editor. Knowing that this was his third book, and knowing LFA, The Abundance of Katherines & what was to come in TFiOS, I think it has a great mix of all of the John Green elements. Boy meets girl, unrequited love, road trip, messed up girl, intellectual teens, and great, quirky friends. This book could easily be read in one sitting if time allowed.
I have heard the author speak at length about how books and movies are different art forms and should be viewed as such, so don’t be surprised to see changes.
Warning: There is definitely some language and older teenage situations (drinking, talk of sex, etc.) that might make it more appropriate for older teens.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars (Really liked it!)
Review by Jenn, YA Librarian, who is now in need of reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson to finish out her John Green experience.
(View all my Goodreads reviews)
Want to read PAPER TOWNS? Click here to place the book on hold!
Check out other NCPL reviews of John Green’s books:
Jenn’s review of The Fault in Our Stars
Leslee’s review of The Fault in Our Stars
Michelle’s review of The Fault in Our Stars
Leslee’s review of Looking for Alaska
EXTRA! EXTRA!! Our John Green teen Nerdfighter Night is next Wednesday. Be ready for food, fan art, fun, and of course a screening of a little movie from last summer!