April 23, 2014

Paper Towns by John Green

Now, I'm not sure what you're supposed to say to the checkout woman at twelve-thirty in the morning when you put thirteen pounds of catfish, Veet, the fat-daddy-size tub of Vaseline, a six-pack of Mountain Dew, a can of blue spray paint, and a dozen tulips on the conveyor belt. But here's what I said: "This isn't as weird as it looks." /  The woman cleared her throat but didn't look up. "Still weird" she muttered.
-from Paper Towns by John Green

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Quentin is smart, reserved, and generally stays out of trouble. So when his next door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, shows up at his window late one night and insists he be her wingman for the ultimate marathon of revenge, he decides to venture outside his comfort zone for the pretty girl. Together they embark on a meticulously planned all-nighter full of more than Quentin ever thought possible and forcing him to fall for Margo harder than before. But the next day Margo disappears, and it's not the first time she's run away from home. Weeks before graduation, Quentin and his friends put together the clues she's left to try to find where she has gone and discover why she's always disappearing.

Paper Towns is the second John Green novel I've read and his witty and articulate style continues to resonate throughout every page. While I appreciate his writing style, I can understand in reading more of Green's work why readers tend to either love him or hate him. At times his style and characterization can become obnoxious and overdone (for instance, I have maybe met 2 high school students with vocabularies half as good as the majority of his protagonists....). In Paper Towns I was able to continue to admire Green's style and the way he develops his characters, but I can see where I might grow tired of his character styles very quickly over time.

Similarly entertaining is how the story is written as a mystery where the reader is able to follow along with Quentin and his friends' search for Margo. While some parts of their search had me slightly bored, the majority of the time I was excited and trying to figure out where she was myself. I enjoyed how Margo's need for an adventure changed the direction of Quentin's ordinary life and gave him new things to consider about his own life. Themes of identity and real vs fake are replete throughout this book, along with the question of how well you know the people around you. In high school I think this is an especially important area to explore because high school students are generally self-absorbed, but it's also a nice concept to revisit as an adult.

What missed the mark for me as a reader is that I really did not like Margo at all, so it was difficult for me to care about Quentin finding her. About halfway through the story I was mostly rooting for Quentin to give up on her because she was too self-absorbed for him. I understand that John Green's intent was to deconstruct the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" or whatever, but the whole MPDG topic is uninteresting to me if not completely annoying. Maybe had I known that was one of the driving forces of this book, I wouldn't have pursued it. I know that I'm outside of the norm on this (which is proved by the fact that I'm the only person in this world underwhelmed by the tv show New Girl... haha), but that's my two cents and why I'm not giving this book 4-stars.

Bottom Line: An enjoyable contemporary YA adventure! If you like John Green already, you'll probably love this one. If you're new to Green, this is a great book to give you a jump start on whether or not you'll be a fan. I would only recommend you avoid this book if you're as irritated by the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" as I am haha! 3.5/5 hearts.

1 comment:

  1. I still need to read this book and The Abundance of Katherine's of John Green's books. Have you read Looking for Alaska yet?? I think it was my favorite. I mean TFIOS is awesome, but a little too deep for me. I was in a week long funk over that book. I can't wait for him to write something new... he always comes up with unique characters, that's for sure. A little Dawson Creekish in the vocab, but I always find them interesting!


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