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Paper Towns Hardcover – October 16, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Green melds elements from his Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines— the impossibly sophisticated but unattainable girl, and a life-altering road trip—for another teen-pleasing read. Weeks before graduating from their Orlando-area high school, Quentin Jacobsen's childhood best friend, Margo, reappears in his life, specifically at his window, commanding him to take her on an all-night, score-settling spree. Quentin has loved Margo from not so afar (she lives next door), years after she ditched him for a cooler crowd. Just as suddenly, she disappears again, and the plot's considerable tension derives from Quentin's mission to find out if she's run away or committed suicide. Margo's parents, inured to her extreme behavior, wash their hands, but Quentin thinks she's left him a clue in a highlighted volume of Leaves of Grass. Q's sidekick, Radar, editor of a Wikipedia-like Web site, provides the most intelligent thinking and fuels many hilarious exchanges with Q. The title, which refers to unbuilt subdivisions and copyright trap towns that appear on maps but don't exist, unintentionally underscores the novel's weakness: both milquetoast Q and self-absorbed Margo are types, not fully dimensional characters. Readers who can get past that will enjoy the edgy journey and off-road thinking. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
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From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 9 Up—Quentin Jacobsen, 17, has been in love with his next-door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, for his entire life. A leader at their Central Florida high school, she has carefully cultivated her badass image. Quentin is one of the smart kids. His parents are therapists and he is, above all things, "goddamned well adjusted." He takes a rare risk when Margo appears at his window in the middle of the night. They drive around righting wrongs via her brilliant, elaborate pranks. Then she runs away (again). He slowly uncovers the depth of her unhappiness and the vast differences between the real and imagined Margo. Florida's heat and homogeneity as depicted here are vivid and awful. Green's prose is astounding—from hilarious, hyperintellectual trash talk and shtick, to complex philosophizing, to devastating observation and truths. He nails it—exactly how a thing feels, looks, affects—page after page. The mystery of Margo—her disappearance and her personhood—is fascinating, cleverly constructed, and profoundly moving. Green builds tension through both the twists of the active plot and the gravitas of the subject. He skirts the stock coming-of-age character arc—Quentin's eventual bravery is not the revelation. Instead, the teen thinks deeper and harder—about the beautiful and terrifying ways we can and cannot know those we love. Less-sophisticated readers may get lost in Quentin's copious transcendental ruminations—give Paper Towns to your sharpest teens.—Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Books; 1st edition (October 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525478183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525478188
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4,160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

John Green is a New York Times bestselling author who has received numerous awards, including both the Printz Medal and a Printz Honor. John is also the cocreator (with his brother, Hank) of the popular video blog Brotherhood 2.0, which has been watched more than 30 million times by Nerdfighter fans all over the globe. John Green lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#45 Overall (See top 100 authors)
#2 in Books > Teens
#45 in Books
#67 in Kindle eBooks
#2 in Books > Teens
#45 in Books
#67 in Kindle eBooks

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

214 of 239 people found the following review helpful By The Compulsive Reader VINE VOICE on October 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
To everyone who surrounds Margo Roth Spiegelman, she is an adventurous, unconventional, and intelligent person and a highly admired someone that everyone puts on a pedestal. So when Margo sneaks into Quentin Jacobsen's room one glorious night and involves him in her crazy exploits, he can't help but feel as if a new page has been turned, and just maybe he can be a part of the marvelous Margo's life.

But the next morning all of Quentin's hopes are dashed with Margo's disappearance. Her parents and the police think this is just another one of her stunts, but Q's not so sure. Because Margo has left him a string of clues, one right after another, which just might lead him to her. But the thing is, he's not sure what he'll find.

John Green brings readers another surprising, witty, and fully honest book in Paper Towns. His writing is captivating from the very beginning as multitudes of details, no mater how large of small, flow seamlessly together. Green has a knack for highlighting the little distinguishing factors that make us human, making for more believable characters and completely enthralling book.

The mystery in Paper Towns is clever, and will leave readers scratching their heads as Q and his friends struggle to piece together the clues with some frustration and tons of humor. But the teens are just as quick to get serious as they contemplate what has actually happened to Margo and as Quentin especially comes to see her in a completely different light with a little help from the poetry of Walt Whitman.

Though Paper Towns did slow down a little bit in the middle of the book as Quentin hits a brick wall in his search, this novel is suspenseful, hilarious, and quirky, and especially appealing to the well read teen.
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89 of 99 people found the following review helpful By J. Sinn on April 15, 2014
Format: Paperback
I know I'm in the minority here, but I have to say that this book definitely didn't do it for me. Maybe it's because my expectations were too high after reading "The Fault in Our Stars." Or perhaps the characters were just a little too "too cool for school" for me. I was willing to ignore the impossibility of teenagers having the ability to speak and think like seasoned college professors in "The Fault in Our Stars," mainly because it was such a beautiful story - a masterpiece even! But in this book, it was just too far-fetched to believe that teens could be so wise beyond their years. Yes, some of their antics tickled my funny bone, like when Ben had to pee so bad in the car that he was about to "cry tears of pee." But I got really tired being inside the head of a swoony teenage boy who was totally infatuated with a rather smug, manipulative girl. His constant ruminations about the oh-so-very enigmatic girl next door, was about as interesting as listening to my best friend talk on an on about the guy she's dating. Overall, the story seemed to go nowhere and the characters grew increasingly more annoying as the chapters progressed. Sorry, but this was a dud for me.
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168 of 196 people found the following review helpful By Cathy Wittman on October 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
I know this is a YA book, but as a reader who is twice as old as Quentin (okay I lie- I'm about six years older even than that!), I thought it was one of my best reads in a long while. Having been a band nerd and heavily involved in speech and drama, I most definitely had close friends who were Quentins, Bens, or Radars, and I can think of more than one Margo in my high school (and each of them was about ten tiers higher in the caste system than I, so I cannot say we were close friends).

This past week I went to a conference in Phoenix and got stuck in the Albuquerque airport for a couple of hours on my way there. I saw Paper Towns most unattainably sitting on the top shelf out of arms reach in the airport bookstore. Thankfully a kind, tall stranger retrieved it for me, and I am so glad he did, because getting to know Quentin a little better at the end of each conference day was more fun than the alternative activity- which would have been getting buzzed in the fancy hotel bar paying $10 per drink.

On my return flight I was sitting next to a guy who made this repulsive sound every two to three minutes that made me think he was trying to suck his sinuses down his throat (I can only assure you that reading about this sound is much less nauseating than listening to it). When I had about twenty pages left, I decided the finale was too special to read in an environment of a full flight on a Sunday evening sitting next to Phlegm-Man, so I saved it until I got home. No spoilers, but I like how John Green wrapped it up; although I was swimming in metaphors (mainly about grass and cracks-- not what you're thinking).
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115 of 137 people found the following review helpful By Pat Shand VINE VOICE on November 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Paper Towns" was written by a smart, smart man. I've heard about John Green before, but this is the first time I've read one of his novels, and I can hardly articulate how impressed I am. He writes flawed, nuanced characters that spout off highly quotable dialogue. In short, this is a book you quite simply need to buy. To elaborate a bit...

The book is divided into three sections. In the first, Margo Roth Spiegelman takes Quentin, our protagonist (who, sidebar, is in love with her) on a crazy, 'spontaneous' journey that changes his life forever. In the second part, Quentin tries to make sense of the events that follow that glorious night. In the third and final part, he goes on a road trip with his friends in order to meet up with Margo. All of this seems rather simple, but it's packed so tight with bittersweet poignancy, insight, and intelligence that you can hardly believe the book is only three-hundred pages long. And really, when a book can incorporate Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" as well as this one did, and offer more insight into Whitman's words than any literary criticism possibly could... what more could you ask for?

The book is just overflowing with ideas, literary references, deep understanding of the way senior year in high school feels, and--most importantly--insight into the way people perceive things. What I love most about Green's writing is that he never has the characters settle on these big, life-changing revelations. When Quentin discovers something vital about understanding life, his finds are often refuted by a new realization, that is later refuted itself. It's a very "in the moment" novel, written about a boy in love with a very "in the moment" girl.
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