Review: Paper Towns by John Green

PaperTowns2009_6APaper Towns by John Green

Pages: 305

Format: Book

Source: Barnes and Nobles

Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis: Who is the real Margo?

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew…

Review: Hello! So this will probably take awhile to write. After my absence, I decided to review a book that is quickly rising on my list of favorites. I spent a few minutes scrolling through the Goodreads reviews for this book, which all I either agreed with or made me moderately to quite angry. So I thought I should address something here before I start really discussing the book: the similarities between Paper Towns and Looking For Alaska (another by John Green if you don’t know). The majority of the one star reviews on Goodreads were criticizing Mr. Green because of this. He is scarily good at writing teenage protagonists, and yes, Q and Miles are both male, and in high school, and they each love an interesting girl. I see where you’re coming from. But read each book and consider all the circumstances. They are very different. Q has loved and watched and idealized Margo his whole life. Miles meets Alaska and begins to idolize and fall in love with her right away. I believe all the characters and situations in the two books are notably different, and honestly, they are each incredible books. Does it really matter? Now, Paper Towns.

Paper Towns is a big change from most YA books. John Green is remarkable for telling stories in a way that honestly just capture a period of time realistically, rather than starting in one place with a crazily misunderstood protagonist with powers, or a dead family, or who is the lone survivor of the apocalypse. Nothing is nearly as dramatic, all of these things could have happened. The paper towns (and Agloe, NY) are real. These kinds of conversations, thoughts, and personalities are also very real. John Green is very good at writing that way.

There is just something about John Green’s writing that makes you think, wonder, and want to do the things that you read about… but the incredible thing is that nothing he writes is something that you couldn’t do. There is such a cold, hard, amazing truth to these characters and events.

All of this holds true for Paper Towns.

Q, Quentin Jacobsen, is a normal teenager. He’s preparing to graduate, he’s friends with the band geeks, he likes playing video games. He likes routine. And he also happens to live next door to Margo Roth Spiegelman.

I love Q, his banter with Ben and Radar, and his character development.Throughout Paper Towns, you see Q go from quietly loving Margo to understanding her in a much better way. When she takes him on an all night trip of adventure and revenge, he is even more intrigued. But when she disappears and he starts searching, he begins to realize how Margo is not an idea, not some enigma, but a person. As he gets closer to realizing this he understands her better,and eventually finds her when she never meant to be found.

He has two best friends, Ben, with a lot of interesting habits, fixated on going to prom, and Radar, who is dedicated to editing a Wikipedia-like search engine. Oh, and his parents own the world’s largest collection of black Santas. Actually one of my favorite parts of Paper Towns was something Radar said to Q,

“You know your problem, Quentin? You keep expecting people not to be themselves. I mean, I could hate you for being massively unpunctual and for never being interested in anything other than Margo Roth Spiegelman, and for, like, never asking me about how it’s going with my girlfriend – but I don’t give a shit, man, because you’re you. My parents have a shit ton of black Santas, but that’s okay. They’re them. I’m too obsessed with a reference website to answer my phone sometimes when my friends call, or my girlfriend. That’s okay, too. That’s me. You like me anyway. And I like you. You’re funny, and you’re smart, and you may show up late, but you always show up eventually.”

I feel like a lot of people have that problem.

Margo Roth Spiegelman is basically a girl who everyone idolizes, always doing interesting, unexpected things. Q knew her as a child, but they kind of got older and got different friends, so that Q only really watched Margo until the night she showed up at his window.

My favorite topic explored in this book is how Q, and we, will often look at people and decide for some reason that they are less or more than human. We put them up on a pedestal or shove them beneath us, when really they are simply… people. With the same kinds of emotions, senses, everything, as us. You shouldn’t try so hard to know how another person thinks without knowing them, it only twists your vision of them in a more confusing way. Q saw Margo as something he had made up in his head for so long, he had to finally break down that image and see her as a girl. That’s when he found her, talked with her, understood after so long.

“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.”

I know I’ve been talking about mostly the same thing this whole review but I could continue and go on forever. I love this book. I highly recommend it, as well as John’s other books. John and his brother Hank also have a great youtube channel (vlogbrothers) that you should check out. They just finished filming the Paper Towns movie and well, I really, really hope it’s good. But I’ve got faith in it, because John was a big part of it. So I’m sorry for such a long absence, I will try to get Chesh and the Red Queen on here soon, and I’ll post more. Thanks for reading such a long, talky review (rather than my usual nonsense filled with gifs). Give me something as great and interesting as this book, and I will never shut up. So… yeah. Read Paper Towns!

~ Alice