180 of 197 people found the following review helpful
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. The characters are as real as your own friends, and teens can't help but see pieces of their own lives in this amazingly candid book. Read at your own risk though--Green's works are completely addictive, and once you start, it's impossible to stop.
103 of 114 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine 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. I love how there are so many ideas at work here that you never feel talked down to, because Green isn't really giving his readers a message. He's just encouraging them to ponder things in order to, hopefully, connect with one of these ideas. Because, in the end, this intricate and insanely well-written book is just about someone connecting with something else.
132 of 148 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2009
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).
I hope that when they make this into a movie that they don't add extra scenes about Margo that aren't in the book to make the movie more about her than the book is (and this book really needs to be made into a movie). In my life the Quentins, Bens, Radars, and Laceys are more important to me than the Margos; although I understand why Quentin cared about her. I still care about the Margos, but despite what Whitman says, I can't feel like I am a part of the same root system with them. That window/mirror statement says more about me than them (just read the book, and this won't sound so schizo). Yet at the same time, even though I believe in a life rightly lived and even though I believe the future deserves our faith, there are glimpses through cracks into Margo that make me identify with her.
This book was good enough that I am still "thinking in John Green". A little John Green narrator is sitting on my shoulder saying thinks like "asshat". The book was good enough that even though I have a big presentation at work on Friday, and even though my annual credentialing packet that was due last week sits unfinished on my desk, and even though I should be reviewing all the stuff I learned at my conference, I am writing a book review on Amazon (and I haven't done a review in five years). I am the mom to three elementary school boys, and I am doing what I can to prevent them from becoming a Chuck Parson- which would be highly unlikely. The nerd gene that they got from their mom is quite dominant (and as much as I have tried in my life to reverse that part of my genetics- there is no gene therapy for nerdfightosis). I'm pretty sure they're nerds (albeit of the "cool" variety)... and that makes me smile.
86 of 111 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a hard review to write because I am such a fan of John Green. I loved Looking for Alaska and Abundance of Katherines is one of my favorite all time books--so of course I was excited to be able to review this book.
I'm sorry to say, I just never got hooked into this story. Most of all because I never could get into the main character--I just didn't feel a strong voice from him, he had no unique personality, and I never felt a reason to care about him. The other problem was his mission--he suddenly turns his whole life upside down to chase after a girl he has barely spoken to in almost 10 years. I just didn't get it. I also didn't get what was so great about her that he would need to chase her--I never felt the bond that he supposedly had for her.
As for the other characters in the book, the only one I really liked--the only one that felt real--was Radar. He was interesting and well drawn. The rest were just stereotypes or unreal. Ben, his other best friend, was completely ridiculous with his honeybunnies and ginormous balls. Give me a break. Why mega-popular Lacey would even fall for him was completely unbelievable. Q's parents were also one-dimensional. Every scene with the parents was just something like 'we love you' or 'we think you're great'. I never saw him do anything great--do they never not get along?
I hate to be so negative because Green is such a wonderful writer. There were many great lines in this book like when they blast their car stereo and open the windows so everyone will know what great taste in music they have--that is so perfectly teen. I also loved learning about "paper towns" a term I've never heard of.
Anyway, judging by the other reviews I am obviously in the minority in my opinion but there it is.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2009
I'm 21 and an avid reader. Recently, I have been reading the more interesting sounding YA novels that have come out recently, looking for some fun, smart, quick reads. I've read quite a few, and from those I have really enjoyed The Hunger Games and its sequel Catching Fire, Graceling and it's prequel Fire, The Host, Poison Study, A Certain Slant of Light and I'm currently reading and enjoying Maximum Ride. I felt like all of these YA books stood out from the rest because the stories were cleverly developed, the dialog was fun, and they kept me interested. Nor did the writing and dialog feel 'young' or a little silly as some YA novels often feel.
Now on to Paper Towns...
I really enjoyed reading this book, it was fun to read, and I loved the main character and his group of friends. I thought that the story developed well overall. That being said, while the first half of the book was ok (not incredibly entertaining nor boring), what kept me reading was how much I enjoyed getting to know the main character and his two friends Ben and Radar. At first I found their teen boy dialog a little annoying, but after getting to know them a little better it made sense. Quentin's obsession with interpreting Margo got old after awhile and I started to get bored which thankfully didn't last for too long. I was pleasantly surprised when I got to maybe the last 150 pages of the book and it felt like the pages were flying by because I had just completely fallen into the last part of the story! There were parts in this last section of the book that made me laugh out loud and I found the group of friends so endearing in the last part of their journey that I couldn't put it down, not because I really wanted to know what happened at the end, but because it was so enjoyable to read.
After reading Paper Towns, there is no doubt in my mind that John Green is a good writer, and I really admire his ability to tap into the teenage way of thinking and many of the emotions that we are prone to feel during high school. The fact that he is able to make the characters in the book sound like actual teenagers without sounding overly formulated adds to the novel. My only issue with this book is that I felt like the author was trying to make Margo into Holden Caulfield in far too obvious of a way and it made her character and her character's angst seem silly. Her calling Orlando a "paper town" and then having Quentin rehash the sentiment when he observes 'all the paper people, in the paper houses at their paper party' (or whatever the actual quote said), was just too obviously similar to Holden and his 'phonies'. The difference between Holden and Margo though is that Holden was far more believable in his need to escape from societal norms.
The character of Margo was so off putting to me because her angst seemed so calculated by the author that she didn't feel unique at all and it made the book seem a little trite. The effect she had on Quentin made sense though (and essentially this is what the book is about), and thankfully because he was such a great main character and his friends were fun too, this book is well worth the read.
While this book might lack the entertainment factor of The Hunger Games, I definitely recommend it to readers who like a slightly introspective and fun YA novel where you can connect with the main character. In many of the popular YA books coming out the main characters seem predominately female, so I found Quentin to be a breath of fresh air.
Some of the reviews down here address the language but I definitely feel that it's far from offensive in this book because it's realistic to how high school students speak. For concerned parents, I think there might have been a few sex references, but nothing strong.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2014
This was my first John Green book and I had heard so many good things about him that I could barely contain my excitement when it finally arrived. I thought this book was going to be amazing and that it would leave me thinking about it for days.
I was wrong.
Margo is extremely spoiled. Her friends had to march to the beat of her drum and apparently, they considered that normal. Her emotions towards Q were awful and the reasons why she left were extremely selfish. The characters tried to be funny but failed miserably and my highlighter was left intact in my nightstand since none of the quotes stood out to me.
John Green is a good author and his work is amazing but this book was a huge disappointment.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2014
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I'm by no means a nerdfighter, or a John Green acolyte. I write YA in my free time, and I like to read the works of successful authors to glean ways to improve my own skills. So hopefully anyone who reads this will take my criticisms as just that, and not some agenda to destroy Mr. Green.
As with TFIOS, John Green's prose flows, floating the reader along like a lazy river. It was easy to read 30 to 40 pages at a clip and not even realize it. This is probably his biggest strong suit, and he leans hard on it. I don't blame him at all, but I did think that the book, while not long by YA length, could've shed a few thousand words and suffered no loss in message or quality. A minor quibble, and certainly not the reason I gave this book 3 stars. If anything, the book would be 4 stars if only based on the prose. It was the other elements of the book that detracted from my enjoyment.
While the highly unrealistic (maybe not among nerdfighters, but even as a HS nerd I never quoted poetry or had a preternatural knowledge of arcane subjects that I inserted into my conversations) dialogue seems to suit the characters in TFIOS, especially Augustus Waters, I found a lot of the dialogue seemed odd. Ben's used of honeybunny seemed like a weak attempt to make him discernibly different from his friends. Radar was my favorite character, a genuine kid with odd parents, and an unhealthy obsession with John Greens version of Wikipedia. Even still, I couldn't tell the characters apart for the most part. There wasn't much variation, besides a random y'all, in speech, and none of them seemed to have identifying physical cues, which every person has. We all react differently to happy things, sad things, etc. Everyone seemed to react that same, which seemed odd.
My biggest problem was the main character. He reminded me of Clay from 13 Reasons Why, a rather milquetoast protagonist who seems compelled by forces unknown to chase after a girl with home he's had very little contact with. In Clay's case, its one party. In Q's case, its one random night out. In both situations, it makes no sense that the protagonist is so drawn to these flawed, screwed up girls. Essentially it seems to come down to the fact that HS boys are so stupid and vapid, that Margo's curvy ass, and Hannah's apparently stunning beauty are enough to induce feelings of love, rather than lust.
I actually would've understood if Q thought that Margo was worth chasing because he wanted to ravage her. It's more realistic than him fawning over her, literally forgetting that he's a top student with friends who actually get a crap about him. His entire life becomes Margo, this overwrought girl who talks in grandiose speeches and in all reality, is a pathetic person who goes on a revenge spree because she can't deal with the fact that her boyfriend would want another girl. Boo hoo, woe is me, I need to run away. That girls problems were so minor and silly, that John Green is forced to turn them into villains to make her more sympathetic. It doesn't work in my opinion.
We never really get to truly understand Q's motivations. He's a normal kid who is logical enough to not run away with Margo to new York, but he's crazy enough to drive a day plus at 77 mph to find her in some random upstate town. Once again, the impetus simply isn't there. If at least the pair had a sexual history, or were truly in love, it would seem logical. Without some kind of pre-existing relationship, it seems trite and stupid. This isn't something that only John Green does, its endemic among YA books, which seem to constantly throw two characters into a crazy situation, which somehow leads to love in a matter of hours. The trend needs to stop. We were all teens. NONE of us feel that fast, so why should we accept it in a book? Especially in 'realistic' fiction?
My last problem is the section where they find Margo. The car ride was actually the best part of the book. I loved the friendship and the fun they had. Margo was such a downer, a selfish louse who deserved nothing but disdain. I lost all respect for Q when he kissed her, and also when he simply seemed to gloss over the fact that she never wanted him to come. He came across as a pathetic loser who was so desperate for Margo's lips and presumably what was between her hips, he'd take it any way he could get it, even if it cost him his self-respect. At least TFIOS had a message. I didn't find this book to be moving at all. It was a rather average effort from a very talented writer.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2014
I was so excited to read this book but I found myself having to force myself to finish it which is always a sign a book is no good.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
"What a treacherous thing it is to believe that a person is more than a person"
Quentin Jacobsen lives next to Margo Roth Spiegelman, the most amazing girl in the world, in his eyes. One night, the two roam the streets on adventures. The next day, Margo is gone. Where did Margo go? And was Margo really the girl Quentin thought she was?
This is a very thought-provoking novel. Sure, it's your typical "coming of age" teen story (I read a fair piece back in my day), but I found that even for adults, you could take quite a bit away.
One of the things most applicable to ALL age groups is the concept of "paper people", of people being more than what you see of them. How often do you act one way around your significant other, one way around your family, one way around your boss, and a completely different way around your friends? We all have these vast, different sides of ourselves, and we struggle trying to figure out who we are from the face(s) we show others. And often times, we come up feeling empty, fake, "paper" because we aren't the fun, wild, smart, quirky person we project to others. I thought that this was a particularly brilliant topic to bring up.
I also rather liked how Green used the Whitman poems to accentuate and clarify his theme. I will be the first to loudly proclaim my hatred for poetry (long, complicated, boring story), but I found that this story helped me understand his poem and gave me a deeper appreciation. Quentin's struggle to understand the poem, to glean insight into Margo mirrored all those hours I'd spend struggling over poems, trying to figure out what they said. Only here, I have an author, gently pushing me towards what the poet was saying.
My favorite character was Radar. I liked his nerdiness (being obsessed with the Wikipedia substitute) and yet still being normal enough to get a girlfriend. He was a great friend, a balance between Quentin and Ben. Further, I liked how he would smack Quentin down when Quentin got a little strung out.
Although the novel is about a fairly serious topic, I found it quite humorous. There are at least five occasions at which I laughed out loud--a pretty good record, in my book. The boys' have great comedic wordplay and bounce off each other nicely. And I couldn't help but burst into laughter about Radar's parents being "black Santa" collectors.
I Didn't Like:
This is a pretty straightforward "coming of age" novel, as I said above. And while it does have great kernels for adults, there is still tons of teenaged drama: who is dating whom, bullies, high school is your life (though Quentin quickly realizes that there is more than high school), and the like. That stuff just didn't appeal to me. Plus, I've read a ton of teen novels like this in my own teenaged years.
I was never that fond of Margo. She struck me as a fairly self-centered drama-queen. Of course, the whole point of the book is to learn more about her and see her who she is, instead of how others see her, but I never was as enamored of her as Quentin was (in fact, I was often hoping someone would smack her!). And I think it was pretty mean of her to leave like she did, leaving no note, nothing, not even for the sister she said she loved.
Another character that seriously grated on my nerves was Ben. Gah, was he annoying! He wasn't funny (most of the time, unless he was bouncing off Radar and Quentin), he was obnoxious, and he was irritating. The less of him I read, the better.
For a teen novel, there is quite a bit of swearing, crass humor, and sex talk. Older teens wouldn't have a problem, but I certainly wouldn't recommend to the younger set. And since the novel is about seniors, that probably would be the best age to read this novel.
Surprisingly heavy for a young adult novel. Milder swears, like da** and he**, appear alongside harsher ones like sh** and f-bombs.
Lots of talk of genitalia, one of the night's events involves taking a picture of a boy who happens to have a small AHEM, a girl is said to have had STDs, Ben fancies himself a player...
At the beginning, Quentin and Margo stumble upon a man who committed suicide. Quentin and Margo break into people's homes and vandalize.
While I am most certainly not in the target range, I still was able to enjoy the message of the novel: people are more than what they seem. This book, snuggled away in the young adult section, tells this story in a way more poignant than I've ever read an adult novel. Amidst the swearing, the high school drama, and the characters, there is a good story, one that older teens and the young at heart can enjoy.
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