Review: Paper Towns by John Green

Paper TownsHeaders
Paper Towns by John Green
Published October 16, 2008
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary
Buy this book from Amazon

I read this book in paperback. 

“‘I’m not saying that everything is survivable.  Just that everything except the last thing is.'” pg. 301

Quentin’s next door neighbor/childhood friend/love of his life, Margo, asks him to accompany her on an all-nighter filled with clandestine plans and risky consequences but then disappears the next day, leaving it up to him to follow the clues and find out what really happened to Margo Roth Spiegelman.

For a full synopsis, visit Goodreads.

Paper Towns, starring Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne, will be released in the US on July 24, 2015.  (source)

Is there a more famous YA novelist than John Green right now?  The Fault in Our Stars made last summer its b*tch and Paper Towns just might do the same for summer 2015.  So, of course, I had to write up a review for this book.  And I’ll be straight up.  I read all of John Green’s solo-written books and Paper Towns is my favorite.

There’s a reason why John Green is huge, why adults are reading his books and why his target audience loves him.  Yes, he has a way of drawing you into a story.  Yes, he has a knack for creating characters that readers can relate to, no matter what age.  Yes, his intelligence is evident in his writing.  But that’s not all.  In all his books, he gives young adults a voice, an important voice that asks significant questions.  He does it in such a way that isn’t patronizing–it’s respectful.  And that’s what most young adults crave, RESPECT.

In Paper Towns, John Green addresses the existential dilemma of how do we define ourselves and how does that definition influence how we want to lead our lives?  Throughout the book, there is this recurrent theme of the idea of a person.  And how each person’s idea of someone else differs but is no more closer to the truth.  Because an idea of a person does not make the person.

There is so much depth to this book that I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that this thought crossed my mind: there’s no way high school students fully grasp the implications of the themes presented in this book.  But then I’d picture John Green shaking his head at me and I’d push the thought out of my head.

The last 10 pages of this book is absolutely great writing.  Quentin’s speech about metaphors and his understanding of the world and human beings–amazing.  And not just because it made me think so deeply about my life in relation to everything but because it is just so damn truthful.

The Featured Quote above embodies everything I like about this book–it’s not optimistic and yet it’s not cynical either.  There’s a hint of hope and inevitability.

I think that many authors try to portray “realistic” through a more depressing story line because there’s no better way to emphasize “real” than by forcing readers to deal with death or cancer or heartbreak.  With Paper Towns, John Green dared to give a truthful representation of “real” that isn’t romanticized or jaded.  Just truthful.

It pains me a little to give Paper Towns anything less than 5 stars because I did truly love it, but the middle parts of the book were a bit dry.  And I didn’t feel as connected to Margo as Quentin did so I kept thinking, who even cares where she went?

One of the reasons why John Green wrote Paper Towns?
“I was really bothered by the way that I was seeing people idealize (and thereby dehumanize) the people they were romantically interested in. Whether it’s Edward Cullen or the beautiful girl in biology class, I feel like we consistently treat the people we’re infatuated with as if they aren’t regular people but instead something more and better. So I wanted to write a mystery in which the obstacle was ultimately that one character (Quentin) has so profoundly and consistently misimagined another character (Margo) that he can’t find her–not because she’s hard to find but because in a sense he’s looking for the wrong person.” (source)

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