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Paper Towns
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on September 23, 2017
Straight-laced high school senior Quentin Jacobsen has had a crush on the free-spirited and mysterious Margo Roth Spiegelman since he was a little boy. He loves her so much that he agrees to go with her on a late-night revenge prank spree against everybody in Orlando, Florida who has ever wronged her from backstabbing best friends to promiscuous ex-boyfriends. The very next day, Margo goes missing and leaves behind a trail of clues for Quentin and his friends, Ben and Radar, to track down. Everyone seems intent on giving up on Margo and getting on with their own lives, except for Quentin, who is determined to find her even if it means missing out on his most important life moments.

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.
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on January 17, 2018
Paper Towns by John Green tells the story of Quentin, otherwise known as Q. Q and his next door neighbor Margo used to be best friends and, as they’ve grown up and become high school seniors, they have turned into acquaintances. One night, Margo talks Q into helping her seek revenge on her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, who happen to be sneaking around behind her back to have sex together. After their fun and rowdy late night, Q is anxious to see if Margo acts differently towards him at school. When she’s not at school or even at home for a couple of days, everyone assumes Margo is on just another one of her adventures. As Q tries to figure out and follow the clues, he begins to worry that he might find Margo dead. The ongoing suspense along with the wonderfully executed humor have made this one of my favorite books from beginning to end. Dynamic, complex, real characters bring depth, realism and humor into this adventure of a story-5 Stars!
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VINE VOICEon May 24, 2015
I find this book very perplexing. If memory serves me, I felt many of the same emotions when I finished The Fault in Our Stars, and so it leads me to wonder if maybe I just don't fully get John Green. On the one hand, this book was fantastic and so engrossing I had trouble putting it down. On the other, it was banal and far-fetched, and kind of cliched. Green's storytelling powers are quite strong, but ultimately, as with TFIOS, this book deflated like a disappointing souffle. Some spoilers to follow.

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.
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VINE VOICEon July 2, 2015
Of the John Green books I have read, this is my favorite. We have a familiar cast of characters -- the nerdy teenage boy and his brainiac friends and the damaged teenage girl who is may be popular and confident on the outside but is deeply troubled on the inside. We also have a lot of smart dialogue, a mystery, a quest and the anguish and sweetness of young love. But in this book, it somehow comes together, aided by the musings of Walt Whitman, is a way that is not treacly or weepy - but real and grounded.

The book is dominated by Margo, a high school queen bee whose brash exterior hides an intellectual and angst-filled interior. The male lead is Quentin, brainy but balanced. The two live next door but are in different social sects in the high school caste system. However Quentin carries a torch for his childhood friend. After an extraordinary night of adventure together a month before graduation, Margo disappears leaving some cryptic clues as to her whereabouts. It is for Quentin to follow the trail -- but to find Margo he first has to understand Margo, not as an ideal or love object or symbol -- but the real person.

The climactic scenes of this quest are extraordinarily well done and the final resolution is moving without being shattering. Really enjoyed this one.
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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.
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on August 22, 2014
I decided to read Paper Towns after enjoying The Fault in Our Stars. I was curious even though I am far removed from the YA category this novel falls into. Perhaps that is why Paper Towns never caught my interest. Quentin is a high school senior who has been fascinated by his neighbor Margo from age 9. She disappears! Her parents don't seem to care and neither do any of her friends, all of whom she has mistreated, including Quentin. Quentin searches for her without regard for his own comfort, sleep, senior prom, parties with friends and finally misses his graduation for the search. I won't ruin the plot but Margo is a cruel, self absorbed bore and I hope this fictional boy will get over her quickly and move on. I did.
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on July 25, 2015
If you enjoyed reading 'Fault in Our Stars' by the same author, John Green, you will almost surely like 'Paper Towns'. Quirky, humorous and sometimes deep, it seems like the author has a keen understanding of teen angst and insecurities. Yet with the maturity to write compelling, fast-paced prose to keep us interested, and amused.

Parts are silly; like the voice of Ben, a friend of the protagonist, whose desperately seeking a prom date, yet boasts about his 'imagined' charms. And another friend, whose parents keep a collection of Santa's in the house.

The magic is in the chemistry between Q and Margot who grew up together as neighbors. Margot, the adventurous one, who climbs through bedroom windows in the middle of the night, teases Q into a misadventure soon before graduation day in an attempt to wake him out of his bland, attend-school-everyday existence.

Soon into the story, Margot leaves - disappears. And Q is beside himself, worrying about her well-being and spending most of the novel sifting through clues trying to find her. His friends helping him out along the way.

The story sometimes goes deep with references to Walt Whitman and other dead poets and authors. Offering us tips on the meaning of life and as clues that most adolescents have to stumble upon in search of adulthood; going beyond those innocent years before graduating and going to college.

You'll find out what 'paper towns' really means. It's not just a metaphor. It's real.

Well-paced, with strong character development and with easy prose and splashes of humor, 'Paper Towns' was a pleasure to read. Although classified as 'Young Adult' fiction. It's a good read for 'Old Adults' too.
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on July 31, 2015
So I downloaded this book because the advertisement for it popped up on my Kindle; which then reminded me that I had recently seen a movie trailer for it. I realized once I started reading the Editorial Reviews that it was written by the same author of the The Fault in Our Stars. I honestly would never have put it together it was the same author until I read that... So that being said I decided to download it. Ok... fast forward to about 15 minutes into the book and I realized what my problem was going to be with the book (same problem I had with The Fault in Our Stars), I do not know of any teenagers who talk the way that John Green writes his teenagers. I understand that they are all of above average intellect but their vocabulary and speech patterns just do not flow right. If the character of Ben said the phrase, "honey bunnies" one more time I thought I was going to pull my hair out. But thankfully once he got a girlfriend that phrase miraculously dropped out of his vernacular. The lists that Q. keeps making and reiterating in his mind that he never discusses with anyone became really annoying too. They stopped for a while and then came back, they served almost no point. I get that Quentin was a very methodical person and that was part of his thought process but his lists were fairly repetitive and did not aid in the understanding of the scenario. I know it sounds like I did not like this book at all however, I did really enjoy it. I made it through some of the longer winded parts, and some of the annoying parts and came out at the end. The ending was not what I expected and I was glad. There was definitly a conclusion (although some may say this is not the case), and I thank John Green for that. I do not think it was the kind of ending that ties up every loose end but these kids were all graduating from HS so the ending was really a starting point for all of them. And that is what made it a good ending.
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on February 15, 2015
(Review copied from

Chose to read this because John Green was posting updates to Twitter from the set of the film adaptation being released later this year. I loved The Fault in Our Stars when I read it over a year ago and enjoyed that film, so I figured I'd get ready for this film too. I didn't want to wait and read the book too close to the film's release, however, because then I'd no doubt be complaining about the changes that are always inevitable in film adaptations.

Paper Towns tells the story of two neighbors who are very different, and yet somewhat similar. Quentin Jacobsen and Margo Roth Spiegelman grew up in an Orlando subdivision and shared the traumatic experience of finding a dead body on their playground. The two grow up living just feet apart but separated by the vast divide of high school cliques. Margo Roth Spiegelman (never just "Margo") pretty much runs the school while Q (rarely "Quentin") usually just hangs outside of the band room with his friends Ben and Radar, pining after his neighbor from afar.

Everything changes when Margo comes to Q's window late one night and takes him on an adventure of revenge and disappears the next day. Margo up and left for a few days at a time before, but this time feels different. Prom and graduation are only weeks away, and Q worries why Margo would leave just after they started to connect after years of not. Soon, he finds a series of clues she left for him and he goes on another adventure trying to find her. Sadly, the clues let him find a lot more about Margo than he ever imagined.

Most of the book is a mystery about not only where Margo went or what happened to her, but also who Margo is. For a girl who seemed to have it all, Q finds a lot about her that she kept hidden from everyone.

John Green is very intelligent (seriously, check out his YouTube channel, vlogbrothers, to learn all sorts of little bits of trivia in 4 minutes or less) and he seems to write high school characters really well. Some of the writing seems a little too intelligent for the characters (do high school students really every randomly quote poetry?) but the story is very intriguing. The characters are all well-written, especially Margo Roth Spiegelman who we get to know slowly throughout the book when she's missing. I love the final section in its hour by hour/page by page countdown to its final 25 pages of wrapping everything up. It was a little bittersweet, but that's how I remember high school and any attempt to shoehorn a perfect ending would have felt like a cheat since high school is never perfect. Can't wait to see the movie--a lot of fun scenes that I hope make the cut.
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on August 12, 2015
Breakdown of Rating

●Plot: 5/5
●Characters: 5/5 From serious to funny, eccentric to sensible, these characters are multi-faceted and well crafted.
●Theme: 4.8/5
●Flow: 5/5
●Originality: 5/5
●Book Cover: 4.5/5
●The Feels: 5/5 Had me laughing out loud throughout.
●Sex Factor: talk of it
●Ending: 4.8/5. Cliffhanger: No

Will I read more from this Author: Quite possibly. I read this book because I seen the trailer for it at the theater, and thought it looked good.

My Thoughts :

Margo Roth Spiegelman is an enigma, especially for Quentin. He is determined to figure out what happened to her and why. This is quite the adventure, from Quentin and Margo's night of craziness; all the way to that crazy non-stop roller coaster of a road-trip they take to find her. It's about that last year of high school and what it means to a person when they realize it's all about to come to an end. It is a coming of age story and a mystery rolled into one. It is heartfelt and hilariously funny.

It is all these things and more...and it made me smile.
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