Monday, 9 January 2012
Review: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Publication Date: October 16th, 2008
Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction
The longest day of Q’s life begins like any other, but somehow ends with him driving his longtime crush throughout Orlando in her brilliantly planned scheme of revenge against her former friends. Margo Roth Spiegelman has lived next door to Q since he was two, and she is the most beautiful and mysterious person he knows. After a night that feels like he’s living someone else’s life, Q wakes up to find that Margo has left with no explanation. Margo has been known to disappear, leaving cryptic clues to her parents, but this time it seems like the clues are for Q. As Q spends his last weeks of high school trying to find Margo, he finds that everyone has a different idea of Margo in their heads. As Q chases clue after clue, he has to wonder who Margo Roth Spiegelman really is.
Looking for Alaska is probably John Green’s most popular novel, but for a long time I claimed that I preferred Paper Towns. After rereading each, I’ve changed my mind completely and have hopped on the Alaska bandwagon. But I still love Paper Towns, which is John Green’s third novel. This week, a lot of people have been preparing for the release of The Fault in Our Stars by rereading his earlier books. I wish I had time to read them all, but I only had time to speed through Paper Towns. While rereading Looking for Alaska changed my perspective on it entirely, my feelings about Paper Towns haven’t changed very much. Rereading it and being familiar with the themes, pretty much every thing the characters said had deeper meaning and everything felt like a symbol. If I am ever in a book club again, I’d want to read this book first. There’s so much to discuss! This book is essentially about how we see people, and how our ideas of what a person is like stops us from really seeing them. I wish I had read this book in high school, since I often felt like people had this idea of how I should be that I could never live up to. While I felt strongly about the themes, I also loved the pacing and well thought out plot. The story pulled me in, and was both moving and hilarious at times. I loved all the characters, especially the secondary characters who could be easy to overlook. I might be one of the few who genuinely liked the real Margo, not just the mysterious miracle that Q sees. The biggest criticism of this book would be that Margo and Q are too much like Miles and Alaska. Of course, this book was intended to be a sort of response to Looking for Alaska. While summarizing each of these four characters would make them sound very similar, they were still there own people. I cannot see Q going to boarding school looking for ‘the great perhaps,’ at least as the book begins. Or smoking and drinking like Miles does. I thought that the characters were realistic, although maybe a little too witty. I would love to be able to build a time machine and hand this book to myself at sixteen. I think I could have gained a lot from the overall message, and from reading about these intelligent characters. In the days leading up to The Fault in Our Stars hitting shelves, rereading Paper Towns had left me feeling even more optimistic about John Green’s next book.
“The fundamental mistake I had always made—and that she had, in fairness, always led me to make—was this: Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.”