Top critical review
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Good initial set up that loses traction.
on February 5, 2016
I give this book a 2 1/12 star (rather than a 2) because I liked the writing style, which I found to be entertaining. The story arc? Not so much. I actually thought it was pretty good up to the point where Margo disappears, which is fairly early in the story. But from then on, the story spins it's wheels, while the characters obsess about prom, get drunk, over-think things, and follow clues that go nowhere, until the story finally limps to an unimpressive climax.
Margo is ultimately found. But why she preferred to run away days before completing her HS diploma to live in scary, decaying, boarded-up buildings and write in notebooks didn't really resonate with me. Other than her parents being intolerant asses and not understanding her, in the absence of any terrible psychological, emotional, or physical trauma, I couldn't fully appreciate (as presented) her appeal for this dreary and lonely lifestyle. Although she disappears early in the book, she's a big presence in the book, talked about and obsessed about constantly by Q and the other characters. She's revered as a "legend" and arguably one of the more interesting characters in the book - if not by presence, by reputation. So there's all this mystery and build up around her. The allure of her bigger-than- life persona. Her fearless wild actions. It all sets up a series of questions that begs for dramatic answers. Where did she go and why? Did she run away? Was she dead? Was she off doing wondrous bold things?
After a drawn out circle-jerk of clues, that made little sense at all- they finally find her and...pffffft. Her reasons for running aren't particularly interesting or strong - which was a major let down. Equally unsatisfactory: What ultimately happens to Margo from there? After a kind of climactic "wrap it up" talk between Margo and Q, which I guess, is supposed to be deep, about how much Q has grown brave because of her and how no one really knew or saw Margo for who she is, insert metaphors, literary symbolism, and more metaphors, they make pledges to email and stay in touch, etc etc etc - Q and his merry crew leave Margo where they found her - in a small NY town living in a deserted decaying building with no electricity or plumping (she has to go to the nearby truck stop to shower) which is, I guess where she wants to be. [ Apparently, planning to eventually move to NYC or something] She seems pretty depressed to me. What's to become of her? We never know. But I guess Margo's not supposed to be the point, although you kinda wish she was, after all, she's pretty much the main focus of Q's inner dialog ad nauseam throughout the entire book. But it's Q's journey and how his idealization of Margo drives him. I just wish his journey had been more interesting.
BTW, the whole Paper Town analogy didn't quite resonate for me either. Something about suburban new development , or....something. To be fair, I was skimming rapidly by this time, having tired of the clues to no where, so maybe I missed it.