185 of 203 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.
106 of 119 people found the following review helpful
"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.
137 of 156 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.
90 of 115 people found the following review helpful
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.
18 of 21 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.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2015
Oh, dear. Another YA book that features a female character who is set out to fulfill the necessary role of a strong, independent, brainy girl, but this concept has become so twisted that instead of positive attributes, she is manipulative, careless, and utterly self-centered. And she is popular and idolized for it. Think Hermione Granger and compare her to this mean piece of work, and the difference is clear. Strong female characters are needed in literature for teen girls, not destructive brats like Margo Roth Spiegelman, whose journey to "find herself" has all the appeal of watching a dog chase its own tail. In these type books, as the girls have gotten more and more unpleasant, and are praised for it, the boys have become weak-willed, easily controlled, and haplessly enthralled. Not a book I would recommend to young people of either sex.
7 of 7 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.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2014
This is a terrible book. There is no character development, the plot is very thin, the dialogue is moronic, and the book just drags on and on and on. At one point the author describes an entire road trip hour by interminable hour from Orlando, Florida to Agloe, New York including stops for gas and junk food that adds nothing to the story. Ordinarily I would precede something like that with "Spoiler Alert", but believe me there's nothing to spoil here.
Never mind my money, I just wish I could get the time I wasted reading this book back.
17 of 21 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.
7 of 7 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.