Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Published: October 16th 2008 by Dutton Juvenile
Genre: Young Adult, contemporary, mystery, romance
Paper Towns is about Quentin Jacobsen, and Quentin is in love with the girl next-door Margo Roth Spiegelman who he used to friends with when they were little. But Margo is no regular girl next-door. Margo loves mystery. Quentin and Margo haven’t been hanging out much since they grew older, but one night Margo comes up to Quentin’s window, like she used to do when they were a lot closer. She asks Quentin to come with her because she needs him to go on a mission with her. Quentin comes with her, and they spend the entire night together on that mission. The next day, Quentin goes to school to find out that Margo isn’t there. Margo has ran away. She has done that before, and she always left some sort of clues for her parents on where to find her. But this time, the clues are for Quentin, and he is determined to find her.
What I liked about the book
One of the main things that I liked about this book were the characters. Critics of this book say that it is very similar to Looking for Alaska or An Abundance of Katherines, because the type of characters are very similar. In all these books, the main character is a guy that is a little shy, nerdy, and in love with an unattainable girl. But I have read all of these books, and I felt that they were very different and I really love the characters in this book in their own way. Quentin is such a great guy in many different aspects and he grows so much in this book. Through his search for Margo, he finds out that Margo wasn’t the girl she pretended to be, and this makes Quentin think about how people are different versions of themselves when they are with different people. This is a very interesting topic to read about because it is something I think a lot of teenagers can relate to. John Green made it so easy to relate to Quentin, and I felt all the feelings that he went through. At one point, he thinks Margo might have committed suicide, and I was so scared because I would be devastated by this just as much as Quentin would be. And also, at some moments I felt I was getting angry at Margo for hurting Quentin, but in the end I understood why she had to do what she did. It is amazing how John Green created a character that I wanted to punch in the face at some points, but on the other hand I totally felt for her and all of her actions were justified.
Next to some amazing characters, I also really liked the pacing of this book. The book started with a strong pace when Quentin and Margo go on their mission that one night. Then, the pacing drops a little because Quentin needs to figure out what the clues mean, and he needs some time for that. This drop in pace made it very realistic, because Quentin didn’t figure out the clues instantly but he needed some time to think about this. But after a while, the pace picks up again and leads up to a great ending of this book. Also, the question where Margo actually is made me want to keep reading this book and this also lead to the fact that I read this book in a really short period of time.
Finally, the last thing that I loved about this book is that it made me think. When I put this book down, the story was over but I kept thinking about the subjects that were discussed in this book. One of these subjects was, like I already mentioned, the fact that people are different versions of themselves in different situations. I find it very interesting to think about this, because I feel like I am always trying to be myself, whoever I am with, but when I really think about it I am in fact very different when I am visiting my grandparents than when I am talking to some of my classmates. And that doesn’t mean that I am not myself in either of these situations, it is just that people can be different versions and still be themselves. Another subject that John Green deals with in this book is friendship. Quentin has two best friends, who help him a lot in his search for Margo. These friends of Quentin are very interesting characters as well, and they were really well developed and had their own issues. At one point, Quentin gets annoyed and in a sort of fight with one of his friends, but his other friend tells him to cut the first friend some slack because they are all having a hard time, and in the end they really care for each other.
What I didn’t like about this book
I just mentioned that I loved the pacing of this book, but I have to add a side note with that. It was a good thing that the pace dropped in the middle section, because it was realistic and it was essential for the story. However, I found that some parts in this middle section were a little dragging and taking a little too long, which lead to me putting the book down several times because I just lost interest a little. However, I picked up the book again relatively quickly after I had put it down, because I just needed to know where Margo was. But I would have liked the book even better when the middle section would have been a little more interesting.
Would I recommend this book?
If you have read any of John Green’s other books and liked those, you should definitely pick up this book as well! If you are in the mood for a more serious contemporary that makes you think, this is a book for you! If you are looking for a book that is revolved around solving a mystery and finding a missing person, check this book out! However, if you are looking for a quick, light read, I think you might be better off picking another book. But overall, I would definitely recommend this book to almost everyone, because it is just really well-written, the characters are really interesting and it makes you think about some questions in life.
“It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.”
“That’s always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they’re pretty. It’s like picking your breakfeast cereals based on color instead of taste.”
“I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.”
“As much as life can suck, it always beats the alternative.”