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  • Writer's pictureAmelia Hooke

Review of 'Paper Towns'

By John Green, 2008

Penguin Random House Company Mystery, Coming of Age

Rating: 👻👻👻👻 (4 out of 4 boos)

“Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back 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 of the girl he thought he knew..”

What’s the main character like?

On the brink of graduating high-school, Quentin Jacobsen has gotten by all his life adhering to routines. But letting Margo Roth Spiegelman into his life shakes everything up. It’s not always clear whether he’s enjoying the break from the life he knows, or if he has simply talked himself into believing he wants more excitement. In that regard, he’s a bit of an "everyman" teenager, wanting more out of life but maybe...not really wanting more. On a different note, he’s one hell of an interesting narrator, and as a list-maker myself, I love when he describes things through lists.

How scary is it?

Okay, I’ll admit it: this book doesn’t fit the “scary” quality at all. But as an award-winning mystery book, Paper Towns seemed a solid enough choice for this blog. While not scary, the book grabs you tightly with its mystery plot, refusing to let you go until the very end. And there were times I was scared for Q’s well-being. Does that count as “scary”?

Who might like this book?

If you’re a teenager, read this book. If you like non-detective, non-Murder-She-Wrote mysteries, read this book. I’m currently rereading Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer and kept thinking the whole time I was reading Paper Towns, “Wow, some of the sentiments expressed here, especially all those allusions to Walt Whitman, feel very Krakauer-esque.” And surprise, surprise, in the closing notes from John Green, he said he was reading Into the Wild around the time when he was writing Paper Towns. Long story short, if you liked Into the Wild, read Paper Towns. If you like moving but funny coming of age stories, read Paper Towns. If you’ve never read John Green, read Paper Towns. If you’ve read all his other books but this one, read this one. The ONLY thing I’ll add is that this book is definitely mature for YA, so read with caution if you’re a young teen and/or sensitive to conversations regarding sex and drinking.

What did I like best?

I love the colorful cast of teenage characters. Yes, there are bullies and band geeks and hot girls...but no one truly fits a stereotype. I was so intrigued at Green’s ability to paint the reality of high school, to show that teens aren’t these vague, formulaic people but have multiple aspects to their personalities. Lacey was one of my favorite characters, but I don’t want to give too much away about her.

What wasn’t my favorite?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but it did make me feel a little down about the sadness that exists in our world, especially for young people who often have such a hard time coping. But that was Green’s point. Paper Towns isn’t sappy, but it’s clearly meant to make you grow reflective and introspective.

What was my personal experience reading this book?

What’s wrong with me? Paper Towns is somehow the first John Green book I’ve read. Where have I been? I think I’ve just assumed, “Something so popular could never appeal to me.” But goodness me, that man can write.

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