Paper Towns by John Green [ website | twitter ]
Publication Date: October 16, 2008
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format read: Paperback borrowed from the library
Why I read it: I needed to see if John Green was just as great as everyone was saying. 😉
Summary: Quentin has been in love with his next door neighbor, Margo, just about forever. Now in the last months of their high school career, Quentin and Margo aren’t exactly what you call friends but when she climbs into his window and whisks him off for an evening of avenging her enemies, he hopes that’s not the last they see of each other. When Margo disappears (as she has been known to do) the following day, Quentin embarks on his own journey to bring her back.
So why did I wait so long to read an exclusively John Green novel? Don’t answer that question. Just be glad that I read this one. Finally. You know that line “you had me at hello”? Well, John Green had me at about page 3 when I was already laughing OUT loud. Don’t get the wrong impression of me but it takes a lot a lot a lot for me to outwardly laugh. For more than a few seconds. Monumental. Really. And in Paper Towns, I was surprised to find myself laughing quite a bit.
That’s actually what I noticed most about Paper Towns. Even when things looked bleak and Quentin was no closer to finding out if Margo was absolutely alive, it didn’t stop them from laughing or talking about prom. This natural ebb and flow of emotions continued to occur even though the main plotline was a serious one. Green did a fantastic job of making these last moments of senior year so believable. It’s sad, it’s happy, it’s fun, it’s a disaster, it’s scary, and in the end, all you are left with is the unknown. It made me want to go back and relive my own last year of high school. (I never thought I would say that.) As long as mine included a road trip, of course.
And Quentin is a great narrator. Sometimes it’s hard for me to connect to male main characters but I had no problems here. He was so real and down to earth, and I so enjoyed going on this journey with him as he took himself completely out of his element. You know that saying, you can tell a lot about a person by their friends? It couldn’t be truer in Paper Towns. Quentin’s best friends, Ben and Radar, add so much to the story (and Ben is absolutely hysterical). I love the way they talk, all the little details we learn about them, and how they get along (or sometimes don’t). Their friendship is the real deal. I don’t think I’ve encountered such a great example of male friendship in any of my other YA books, and honestly, this trio tops a lot of the female bonds I’ve grown accustomed to.
I could probably swoon about this book for another 1000 words if I had the space or time or you had the patience to read it. One more thing worth mentioning is this whole idea Green presents about feeling a connection with someone, or just wanting them in general and how your mind builds up these certain ideas about them and you create some version of who they are in your head. It’s actually kind of dangerous but happens all the time. When you finally get to know this person, they will probably be entirely different than what you imagined. It’s a small thing. Maybe people don’t stop long enough to think about this. Or just how much it could mess with your notion of reality. To me, this idea felt like this major epiphany and I still can’t stop thinking about it.
So my plan after reading this is to buy my own copy and re-read it. (While taking out every other John Green book from the library.) If that doesn’t tell you something, I’m not sure what will.