One month before graduating from his Central Florida high school, Quentin "Q" Jacobsen basks in the predictable boringness of his life until the beautiful and exciting Margo Roth Spiegelman, Q's neighbor and classmate, takes him on a midnight adventure and then mysteriously disappears.
Original publication date
OK, so as I read back over that paragraph, I realize that it is not the plot of this book that made me love it so much. Don't get me wrong - the story is engaging. My brief summary of it doesn't do it justice. But I loved John Green's book for so much more than the plot. The writing is honest and funny. Green is spot on in his depiction of the world of high school seniors. Although the story definitely has its serious moments, the book also includes a very humorous take on the life of high school students. Here's just one example from Chapter 1:
"Radar was our other best friend. We called him Radar because he looked like a little bespectacled guy called Radar on this old TV show M*A*S*H, except 1. The TV Radar wasn't black, and 2. At some point after the nicknaming, our Radar grew about six inches and started wearing contexts, so I suppose that 3. He actually didn't look like the guy on M*A*S*H at all, but 4. With three and a half weeks left of high school, we weren't very well going to renickname him."
The characters are also interesting. I loved Q, our narrator, as well as his friends Radar and Ben. I was frustrated with Margo Roth Spiegelman (who is always referred to by her full name) at times, but I understood her motivations. Green mostly avoids the stereotypical high school characters, especially with his main characters, in keeping with the theme that things aren't always as they seem on the surface.
This book just worked on all levels for me. I highly recommend it, especially for lovers of YA, and I can't wait to read more books by John Green.
I think I've come to the realization that I like John Green himself more than I really like his books. I really enjoyed the funny parts of this book (and there were many). But really I found both Margo and Quentin to be pretty obnoxious, which may have been partly the point of the book. This will please Nerdfighters and if you get a chance to hear John Green speak, please do because he's awesome, but Paper Towns was not really my cup of tea.
Oh, the audio recording was great. Very good narrator able to pull off the funny bits. John Green reads the prologue and author's note.
Margo Roth Spiegelman- the mystery of the story- I said this on Twitter, but I’ll
I’m walking on eggshells here, trying to find how to write about this book without giving anything away. This story unfolds slowly, clue by clue, and everything always ends up leading to something else. It’s tricky to explain, but wickedly fun to read- like you’re putting yourself in the book and joining the search for Margo with Quentin and company.
Overall, this book really kept me going and going. When Quentin, the main character, discovered a clue- I’d get excited for him. When that clue turned out to be a fluke- I’d be disappointed for him. It’s extremely enthralling to read, and I definitely recommend it. I’ve even heard it’s being made into a movie next year, which is pretty awesome. I can totally see it being adapted to the big screen.
John Green’s Paper Towns has all the parts of a novel that his teenage audience loves and devours. Humor. Mystery. Romance. It follows Quentin, a senior in high school who’s greatest miracle is living next door to Margo, the
Quentin’s life has always been normal. He has two normal parents, a normal house, and two normal friends. However, his life is about to be turned upside down when his next door neighbor/crush sneaks into his bedroom in the middle of the night and leads him on an adventure throughout the town, pranking all of her enemies. Just when he thinks he might go from a nobody to a somebody at his school overnight, Margo disappears. However, Quentin soon discovers that she had left a trail of clues for him to find, and soon him and the rest of his friends are led from place to place on each lead. The answers always have double meanings and unclear directions, leading Quentin and the others to doubt their quest. And what the clues point to leads them to an even more disturbing possibility. What they find doesn’t quite match up to their expectations in a shocking ending.
John Green effortlessly weaves a story that has all the elements of a young adult novel. The characters must face the difficulties and confront the problems of high school and growing up that readers can recognize and connect with, while also adding a mystery that will intrigue them. He makes just another novel about growing up into a suspenseful action packed classic. He gives great detail about the characters, making them feel like a real person. Each has their own strengths, flaws, and history attributed to them, which makes them less perfect and more relatable. Each problem that they face or their interpretation of a clue gives the reader another detail about them and how they look at things. The book is also peppered with flashbacks that give us an inside look an a traumatizing event in both Quentin’s and Margo’s childhood that lets the reader get a peek into their personalities.
Green does an amazing job throughout the entire book, right up to the very end. The finale, the revealing, what the readers have been waiting for the whole book. It’s a disappointment. It feels like it was meant to shock you, to make it be unpredicting, but readers mostly feel like it was a bit overboard. Green makes you be able to feel the pain, excitement, and happiness that the characters are feeling, in fact, he might do too much of a good job. The ending is such a let down because you can feel Quentin’s pang of disappointment like it was your own. All in all, Paper Towns had great detail, an amazing plot, and in depth characters, but the ending felt like it was trying too hard to be different. I give it four and a half stars out of five.
On the surface, this novel in three parts is a lot of fun. Part 1 (the fun, frenzied night of pranks) and Part 3 (a hilarious, frenzied road trip from Florida to New York) bookend a more mundane Part 2 (search for Margo and the day to day living of a teen approaching high school graduation). There is a cast of characters defined by their quirks – Quentin’s friend Radar is embarrassed by his parents’ large collection of black Santas, prom obsessed Ben tries to live down his “bloody Ben” nickname, and of course there is the magnificent Margo, the queen of quirk, who likes urban exploring and wants to live off the map a la “Alexander Supertramp” (see Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer).
Among all this quirk, Quentin is white bread. He’s well adjusted, has perfect attendance, and lives a normal teen life. In fact, his most defining characteristic is his fascination with Margo. And while this works well on a conceptual level, on a practical level it meant that I although I could connect with his ongoing search for identity, I had a hard time connecting with him as a character.
This was my first foray into John Green territory and I like his combination of humor and deep exploration of what it means to be human. I’ll be back.
The book dragged a bit in the middle and the characters occasionally seemed two-dimensional but for the most part I enjoyed it. It was well-written, I liked that one of the clues to Margo’s disappearance was Walt Whitman’s poem “A Song of Myself” (which meant that it was discussed in depth), and it brought back memories of making that transition from high school to the next stage of your life. At the end I felt that most of these kids would be okay but they’ve also started the process of learning some hard truths about life and other people.
I plan to try some of John Green’s other books and would recommend this one if you’re looking for an easy read.
Here’s a quote:
“Margo always loved mysteries. And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much she became one.”
But back to the novel. If you have been anywhere near a bookblog in the past few months, chances are you've heard of Paper Towns. You've probably read rave reviews, telling you how great it is. They're all true! This book is fantastic. From the synopsis and all the other reviews I'd read, I expected it to be similar to As Simple As Snow (which I also loved), and it is, a little. But it's also very, very different. One of my favorite things about Paper Towns is the relationship between Q and his best friends, Radar and Ben. Margo's an important part of the story, sure, but to me the relationship between these three guys is what makes the book great.
First up, Q. I think this passage helps describe him:
Both my parents are therapists, which means that I am really goddamned well adjusted. So when I woke up [after finding a dead body with Margo], I had a long conversation with my mom about the cycle of life, and how death is a part of life, but not a part of life I needed to be particularly concerned with at the age of nine, and I felt better. Honestly, I never worried about it much. Which is saying something, because I can do some worrying.
Q is neurotic. It's nice when Margo comes along to help break him out of his shell and get him to actually take some risks (hence, the MPDG comparisons). Q's two best friends are Radar (nicknamed for the M*A*S*H character he resembled pre-puberty) and Ben (who is slightly obnoxious, but very awesome). Radar is obsessed with Omnictionary, which is a non-copyrighted version of Wikipedia, and spends his free time editing it. Also, his parents have the world's largest collection of Black Santas. Like Q, that made me smile every time it was mentioned. Ben is obsessed with "honeybunnies" and spends his free time trying to get laid. He referred to girls as "honeybunnies" enough times in the first 20 pages that I really wanted to slap him. Mercifully, Q felt the same way:
I'd tried telling Ben that "honeybunny" sounded more sexist and lame than retro-cool, but he refused to abandon the practice. He called his own mother a honneybunny. There was no fixing him.
After that, it didn't bother me as much. Besides, Ben quickly became one of my favorite characters. Q and Radar are the straight men to his zany comic sidekick.
Ben playing video games:
"Come here you little bastard," Ben said, the controller twisting in his hand. "Daddy's gonna put you on a sailboat across the River Styx."
"Did you just use Greek mythology to trash talk?" I asked.
Radar laughed. Ben started pummeling buttons, shouting, "Eat it, goblin! Eat it like Zeus ate Metis!"
Ben drunk at a party thrown by one of his new girlfriend's "friends":
So Lacey and I followed Ben upstairs, where he opened the door to Becca's room and said, "Your party kicks so much ass! Even though you suck so much! It's like instead of blood, your heart pumps liquid suck! But thanks for the beer!" Becca was alone, lying on top of her covers, staring at the ceiling. She didn't even glance at him. She just mumbled, "Oh, go to hell, shitface. I hope your date gives you her crabs."
Without a hint of irony in his voice, Ben answered, "Great talking to you!" and then closed the door. I don't think he had the faintest idea he'd just been insulted.
Sure, Ben's annoying. But chances are you have a friend just like him. I know I do. These characters and the friendship between them (even with all the insults and trash talking) kept the book going. I enjoyed them so much, to me the whole Margo storyline was secondary. I wouldn't even mind reading a book just about Q, Radar, and Ben; they're that awesome.
In case you couldn't tell, I enjoyed this book immensely, and am looking forward to reading more of John Green's YA.
Humor-filled, exciting, and intelligent, this book will surely get you thinking and laughing all at the same time. Not just once did I find myself laughing aloud at the exchange of banter by Q and his friends, and not only once did I also find myself thinking about the mysteries and clues that unfold as the story progresses. Q and his friends are typical band geeks and nerds, but they have a coolness about them that makes them more likeable than the cool kids. Margo, on the other hand, is as mysterious and as lonely as she is beautiful. This adventure of finding clues, uncovering truths, and trying to make sense of a very long poem will demand you to never put it down once you open and read it.
The story never loses its rhythm, each word taking you to the next with the same intensity and urgency, pulling you deeper into the story that at times, you'll feel like you need to give Q some input about what you think of Margo's clues. I am such a mystery geek but by the end of the story, I still haven't figured out any answer, which makes the outcome very exciting. The story does not digress, focusing at the events at hand, and drawing remarkable images as it goes on. You feel the fear, you hear the laughter, and you sense the tension.
Q's parents are both psychologists. Which brings up one of my 'stupid questions': "What if both your parents are psychologists?" This story did not answer my question, but it does gives humorous examples of Q's parents' conversations, all filled with amusing psychological observations:
"Those are some very troubling dynamics, eh bud?"
"Margo's parents suffer a severe narcissistic injury whenever she acts out."
Not very satisfying examples, I know, but once you read the book, you'll see what I mean.
The characters' personalities and development throughout the story are consistent but not predictable. They may be shallow at first glance, but reading through the book, we see another dimension of their being: Ben may be as shallow and as attention-seeking as the next person, but he has the most presence of mind in the most difficult of situations. And just look at Q. The scaredy-cat now turned Sherlock Holmes.
To read Paper Towns, you'll know that the author is very smart. Interesting and witty dialogue? Check. Direct, focused writing? Check. Highly quotable sentences? Check. Flawed, engaging characters? Check. Imaginative, unique premise? Check. I can go on and on forever, but tell me, can a regular person interpret Song of Myself by Walt Whitman as intelligently as the author had? I don't think so. I am definitely a regular person and I could not look at it as he had with such meaning. He writes a highly intellectual yet fun story around it, expertly and effectively making events, clues, and conversations with this poetry at its core.
This book has definitely elevated itself to one of my favorites this year. And you know the best part? I got this 20 percent off!
I'm still a bit intrigued by John Green because he seems to be completely aware of the things I don't like about his books. Whenever I have a problem with his Manic Pixie Dream Girl, or with the excusing of bad/dangerous behavior, he addresses the problem head-on. It's just a completely unsatisfactory answer.
I liked the writing style and many of the minor characters (Lacey and Radar, in particular). However, it is becoming clear that John Green and I are not going to be friends, because I don't like his major characters (ESPECIALLY the females) and his plots involve a lot of behaviors that I cannot sympathize with. I will continue to read his books, but I am not expecting to be able to rate them any higher than this one.
But as Q learns throughout the course of the novel, we cannot really know another person. It's the attempt, the journey, that is more important than the ending. That works for this book, too. The search for Margo is more interesting than the ending. As an English teacher, I love the Whitman references. More than that, I love the goofy friendship between Q, Ben, and Radar. Their banter cracks me up. "Ben Starling, you better not have bought your token black friend a racist shirt." "Poetry is just so emo. Oh, the pain. The pain. It always rains. In my soul." Yes, the events are at times unrealistic (at times??), but who cares? It's light with being dumb, although Green sprinkles some lovely gems of wisdom throughout and captures the angst of graduating from high school pretty well.
It ain't "The Fault In Our Stars." And that's okay. I also didn't read "Looking for Alaska," so I'm not bothered by the comparison. Three stars.
John's charactors are relatable, yet, mysterious, making you want to look deeper into the charactor analysis. It was a quite interesing read, and certainly a page-turner. I recommend this book for everyone. Go into the
Chloe's (my) blurb:
"A shocking novel portraying life and the myteries that surround us all. In any form they may come in."