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Paper Towns Paperback – September 22, 2009
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Winner of the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery
New York Times bestseller
USA Today bestseller
Publishers Weekly bestseller
A Booklist Best Book of the Year
An SLJ Best Book of the Year
A VOYA Best Book of the Year
“Green’s prose is astounding — from hilarious, hyperintellectual trash talk and shtick, to complex philosophizing, to devastating observation and truths.” —SLJ, starred review
“[Green’s] a superb stylist, with a voice perfectly matched to his amusing, illuminating material.” —Booklist, starred review
“Laugh-out-loud humor and heartfelt poignancy.”—Kliatt, starred review
“Green delivers once again with this satisfying, crowd-pleasing look at a complex, smart boy and the way he loves. Genuine—and genuinely funny—dialogue, a satisfyingly tangled but not unbelievable mystery and delightful secondary characters.”
"Stellar, with deliciously intelligent dialogue and plenty of mind-twisting insights…a powerfully great read." —VOYA
"Compelling." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
About the Author
John Green is the award-winning, #1 bestselling author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with David Levithan), and The Fault in Our Stars. His many accolades include the Printz Medal, a Printz Honor, and the Edgar Award. He has twice been a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. John was selected by TIME magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. With his brother, Hank, John is one half of the Vlogbrothers (youtube.com/vlogbrothers), one of the most popular online video projects in the world. You can join the millions who follow John on Twitter (@johngreen) and tumblr (fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com) or visit him online at johngreenbooks.com.
John lives with his family in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Top customer reviews
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While I won’t divulge what the ending result of this story is, I will say that it hit me harder than a flying brick to the skull. It was painful to where it almost made me cry, but it was a necessary pain that conveyed the message of the story all too well. It shows how dangerous putting people high on a pedestal can be, especially when those “idols” fail to live up to your expectations. Lord knows I’ve had a lot of crushes in my lifetime and still have some today. I keep thinking these women are angels sent from the heavens to steal my heart away and make me eternally happy. And that’s why they say, “Never meet your idols, because they will disappoint you.” I spent the entire reading of this book thinking the best was going to happen and then I get a much-needed slap in the face. Thanks for that, John Green.
I also admire Mr. Green’s ability to incorporate preexisting pieces of literature into the clues of his mystery. The bulk of these clues rely heavily on a Walt Whitman poem called Song of Myself. The themes of death, rebirth, and burial create a deep sense of fear within Quentin that Margo might be dead. But then there’s another piece of literature that fits in perfectly as well: Moby Dick. Captain Ahab becomes so obsessed with finding this whale that it nearly kills him. It reminds me of The Shawshank Redemption where Andy Dufresne expands the prison library and one of the books is The Count of Monte Cristo, a novel about breaking out of prison and getting revenge on those who locked him up. It’s a fascinating literary technique that has stood the test of time. After all, the classics never go out of style, right?
And then we have the theme of paper towns, phantom settlements with fake names that have no business being on official maps. After Margo takes Quentin with her on the revenge spree, she talks about Orlando being a paper town due to the lack of real people with real emotional substance. In other words, the citizens are too concerned with shallow values such as getting laid, buying things, and being better than everyone else. I’d want to go missing from a place like that if I could. Come to think of it, I did live in a “paper town” as Margo describes it. It was called Chehalis, Washington and it’s the town where I considered suicide for the first time in my life. It too was filled with people who walked around like zombies and stabbed each other in the backs. I left that place in 2001 and only came back in short bursts. One can’t help but think Margo has a good point, which is why it’s easy to fall in love with her even from many miles away.
Paper Towns is a book that transcends the young adult genre and is accessible to any age group. Lord knows there are older adults that will feel a sense of jaded nostalgia when they read about the activities going on in this novel. To those people, I say be thankful that you can leave your past behind and look forward to a better day. Be grateful for your newfound maturity so that you don’t make the same mistakes that Quentin Jacobsen makes in this novel. An extra credit grade goes to John Green for giving me the slap in the face that woke me up from the matrix.
In one respect I did think this book was superior to TFIOS: the dialog between the characters sounded a lot more feasible to me. There's something about the way Green does the dialog in this book that just sounds right. The teens in TFIOS sometimes sounded weirdly pretentious and overly adult, but in this book, I bought their interactions. Their conversations sounded like conversations, complete with run-ons and genuinely hilarious moments, in which characters concoct elaborate sentences just for the sake of amusing one another. Quentin is something of a pedant, but Margo points this out to him, and it goes a long way toward humanizing him.
The characters in general were well done--except for Margo. Because Q is so level-headed and focused on his future, I found it very difficult to imagine he would go to the lengths he goes to in order to try to unravel the mystery of what has become of Margo. The two have so little interaction for a stretch of nine whole years that I really couldn't buy into his sudden overwhelming obsession with her. Yes, he has always nursed a crush on her, but it didn't seem all that powerful to me. After all, he still managed to do really well in school and maintain a good relationship with his friends. Had Margo not left Orlando, I could have bought him falling under her spell after spending some more time with him, but it seemed to me that someone who seems as put together as him would have enjoyed his wild night with her and regretted her loss, but who would have accepted her flitting out of his life in the end.
And in saying I thought the characters were strong, this doesn't mean that I always found all of them likeable, but for me that was part of the book's attraction. Q was really obnoxious for a good stretch, getting angry with his friends for not being as obsessed with Margo as he was, and holding grudges because they dared to have other things going on in their lives. Yet I could also understand what it's like to be in that tunnel vision sort of state, and it made his character feel authentic to me. I was especially happy when Radar called him on his behavior as that made it even more clear that Q had failed to spot his own hypocrisy up to that point.
However, Margo was the exception to this rule for me. I found her entirely stock. There was nothing about her that made her all that interesting to me. I thought maybe she was experiencing some growth, as her behavior on prank night makes it seem like she's gaining some insight, but it didn't turn out that way in the end. She struck me as highly selfish, dramatic, and thoughtless. It's hard for me to imagine why anyone might find a person like this appealing, let alone why Q does. Many of Margo's problems seemed to me to be of her own making, that if she'd decided to eschew her phoniness she could have found more fulfillment. Instead, she effectively quits her problems by disappearing. It seems like the book tries to justify her disappearance by making her parents jerks, but that felt off to me. And were they really jerks? I would have liked the dynamic between Margo and her parents to have been more than one dimensional.
Plot-wise, I really enjoyed the psychological mystery feel to this book. I like books like this, where characters try to unravel the mysterious inner workings of the minds of other characters. It's the sort of thing that appeals to me, trying to imagine what spurs someone to behave the way they do. Though I did enjoy the road trip, my ardor for the book cooled a bit by that point, as the mystery of Margo's disappearance was inherently more interesting to me. To be honest, I think I'd have preferred the book to take a darker turn, as it seemed to be heading in that direction. I found the resolution kind of a letdown.
Ultimately, I feel ambivalent about this book. I enjoyed a lot of it while reading it, but in the end it didn't feel like a really good book to me. I think this may be because the events in this book didn't feel organic, and once I feel like things are happening in a book because the plot demands it, that book automatically loses something fundamental.
Most recent customer reviews
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