I have very conflicted feelings about John Green’s Paper Towns. This is the third John Green novel I have ever read and after owning it for several year, I finally chose to read it now because the film is scheduled to debut in theaters this summer. I have heard such rave reviews about it from Amanda of Junebugs and Georgia Peaches but some of the other reviews I’ve heard have been mixed, which is ultimately where I fall.
I really enjoyed the first two thirds of the book. The characters are very John Green in that Quentin, the male lead, is a quiet but intelligent and the main female, Margo is the equivalent of a manic pixie dream girl. After spending an incredible all-nighter together and exacting revenge on all of the people who Margo felt wronged her, Quentin keeps up his perfect attendance record and goes to school in the hopes that things will be different for them. Technically, they are but not in the way Quentin expects because he learns that Margo has run away. He spends the remainder of the novel on a wild goose chase, following the cryptic clues he believes she left behind for him.
Quentin is an enjoyable character to read and I appreciate his constant analysis and contemplation of every situation. While he believes that he has a strong sense of himself, he is not stubborn enough to turn down new opportunities. I appreciate the obvious comparison to Ahab from Moby Dick because Quentin’s singular obsession becomes finding Margo which leads to small issues between him and his two best friends, Radar and Ben. The lives of his friends also change due to Margo’s disappearance and their proximity to Quentin and I love the friendship between the boys.
I had such a hard time rating this book because, without giving spoilers, I really enjoyed it until the end. I struggled with Margo’s character because of all the similarities there are between she and Alaska and overall, I just really liked Looking for Alaska a whole lot more. I was surprised to see that Paper Towns was published afterward and it actually made me like the book even less. I would have been more forgiving if it were published earlier when John Green was still progressing as an author.
Final Thoughts: Paper Towns by John Green is a contemporary novel that makes you think. I love reading novels which force the reader to examine their own lives and open their minds to theories and possibilities they may have otherwise shut out. It has the typical quirky guy and the manic pixie dream girl characters John Green’s novels are known for. I wish I could give this book more stars because I was completely on board until the ending but if you’re on the fence about this one, I would suggest checking out Looking for Alaska instead.
Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew… (via Goodreads)