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Showing 1-10 of 4,076 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 5,260 reviews
on May 15, 2014
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.
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on July 20, 2015
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in short

If you've read one John Green, you've read them all. That's not necessarily a criticism. It's just, Green has a formula: nerdy guy with big dreams, quirky manicpixiedreamgirl. If you don't like that formula, you probably won't dig Paper Towns. However, I'm very much a drinker of the John Green Kool-aid, so I really had fun with this book. Despite being a cheerier version of Looking for Alaska, it's got plenty of its own punch and panache. One night of pranks and revenge turns into a slapdash game of Clue, with Q as our awkward, endearing detective. Margo could have just run away--or perhaps something dire has happened. What I really loved about this book was the focus on friendship. With Margo only an idea for much of the book, the plot centers on Q, his best friend Ben, and Margo's best friend Lacey. They come together to find Margo, and end up finding kindred spirits in each other. It's a light, refreshing, kooky high school story with a kickass ending that justified any ridiculousness in the plot. (If they change the ending for the movie, I'm going to mutiny!)

in depth

it's sort of a romance
At the start, there's Margo. She was Q's best friend when they were little. They played together, skinned their knees together, found a dead body together. You know, typical friend things. But alas, Margo was a flighty ball of sunshine. She became popular, and Q faded to the background. Until one night, Margo appears outside Q's window. She takes him on a crazy revenge mission and then disappears, leaving him the only clue to her fate. And so, the book is about finding her, literally. The romance between her and Q develops largely in Q's head, in memories and in this strange connection they shared. Green does a fantastic job of highlighting real Margo versus the Margo in Q's head, and how love can't be formed from an idea. So, it's less a classic romance with making out and swoons and more of a search for a love that may be.

but it's more of a road trip.
Even moreso, it's a crazy road trip story. Finding Margo is the thread and the endgame, but the plot is in the process. Q is joined by his friend Ben, a delightfully bizarre, hilarious human who's much more my type. Their friendship is strong and believable. They have each other's back and they're not afraid to call each other out--which must happen, as Q's obsession becomes more toxic and self-centered. Then enter Lacey, Margo's best friend, and a prototype of popular. She also happens to be sweet, clever, and a delightful amount of snarky. They may be on a clue hunt, but it's the growing friendship, banter, and growing up experience between them that gives this book its heart.

there's a mystery element
Don't get me wrong, though. The mystery of Margo is still crucial to the book. Yes, it's partly a metaphor for finding yourself and finding the truth about people, but it's also literally about finding Margo. There's a serious undertone to the frivolity: what if she didn't just runaway? That possibility keeps the tension and stakes high. I also just liked the idea of the chase. As the trio moves from clue to clue, they discover this hidden Margo that doesn't quite match the Margos they each knew. It's a fascinating concept, piecing someone together from what they leave behind--and it draws into focus the fact that everyone has masks. As Q peels away Margo's layers, the fantasy and reality of Margo come to an emotionally brutal collision.

and a bit of philosophical darkness
One question underlying the whole chase is, of course, why did Margo run away? Many readers may have difficulty sympathizing with her. She's pretty, popular, and has a good home life. Everyone loves her. She's talented. And unfortunately, that's what I hear all the time: "Nothing is really bad about my life. I don't deserve to be depressed." And that's just bull. Margo's character, histrionic and self-centered as she is, highlights the fact that external signs of so-called perfection aren't always enough to make someone feel whole. People with nice parents can feel depressed. They can feel trapped. And, yes, they can feel like their lives are made of paper cutouts, and yearn for something real.

all in john green's signature cheeky wit
It's a little pretentious, but John Green's just so darn endearing that he can get away with it. He gives Q his signture self-effacing humor. You just can't help but like the guy, even when you want to punch him because he's being a little twit. As with Green's other books, the language here is elevated high school. These are all bright kids with big vocabularies and lofty ideas. The philosophizing can get heavy handed, but for the most part, Green reins it in with tight writing and an authentically teenage aura that's difficult to explain. Plus, it's freaking hilarious. There were so many parts that made me laugh out loud, i.e. every time Ben opened his mouth. Green's dry, quick wit gets me every time, and makes what could be a dense melodrama into something light and affecting.

in a sentence

Paper Towns is a quirky, hilarious adventure that's a little bit about romance, a lot about friendship, and mostly about finding the real people behind the masks.
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on November 14, 2015
I know I'm in the minority here, but I don't like downer endings. If I invest my time and energy reading your book, I want to feel BETTER than if I'd just stuck with my ordinary life. If your book is going to make me feel like crap, I really don't see the point. Work makes me feel like crap without any help. The person the book is more or less about is irredeemable. I found myself actually wishing her bad because she's a rotten person. Won't be reading anything else he writes/wrote.
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on January 11, 2016
I believe the reader is supposed to be enamored of the teenage protagonist - Margo Roth Speigelman - but I found her behavior selfish, irresponsible, dangerous and not very believable. She drags along Good Kid Quentin Jacobsen on a night of law breaking just before high school graduation and then proceeds to disappear, leaving behind an elaborate set of esoteric clues. Quentin, smitten, follows the clues across the country to find her.
The antics these kids participate in are so ill thought out and downright dangerous that I, as a parent, became exasperated and furious just reading about them!
As was reading I kept trying to figure out if these characters ring true to teen readers and my answer came when my 15 year old daughter told me she quit reading it half way through because she found it boring. There you go.

P.S. I did find the interpretive lessons on Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” and the information about “Paper Towns” to be interesting.
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on December 1, 2014
I loved The Fault in our Stars. I was disappointed in Looking for Alaska. I hated this one.

John Green always writes well. There are always quirky, intelligent banter between characters and statements that make you laugh out loud. This, however, does not make up for the ignorance of the main characters in any way.

Margo, the main girl character, is the most selfish, annoying character I have ever read. Quentin, the main boy character, is a stupid, pansy boy who wastes his time looking for a girl who spent her high school years ignoring him, a person who was his best friend growing up.

I hated the premise; I hated the plot; I hated the ending. The only reason I finished it is because I'm one of those people who have to finish a book if I begin it. I am mad at myself for wasting my money.
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on April 17, 2017
John Green's "Paper Towns" is a beautifully written story. Part mystery, part coming-of-age, Green masterfully creates a mix of characters that the reader can't help but root for. The connection between Quentin and Margo is both heartbreaking and full of hope. The cast of supporting characters adds a air of authenticity not found in most YA novels. They are quirky, impulsive, and don't always make the right decisions...just like real teenagers! John Green has a new fan, I'll be reading the rest of his work.
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on September 21, 2015
While not the best book I've read by him this far (I loved The Fault in Our Stars); this book got three stars for having a plot and story line that kept me guessing through the whole book. I only kept reading to find out what happens to him and Margo!

Not super thrilling, romantic, or anything of the like, but has a decent story line and some fun characters with interesting traits! I really like Radar! (:

If you like an easy read with a story that might just surprise you a little as well as make you fall in love with the MC, then this is a good book.

I've heard of paper towns before, but this story made me see them in a completely different way. I love how the characters grew with each other throughout the book as well.
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on August 6, 2015
I haven't seen the movie but since I really enjoyed both the book and movie of The Fault in Our Stars, I looked forward to reading this John Green story. It started badly for me with a Wimpy Kid sensibility that I couldn't really take seriously. However as it switched from outcast dork to action/adventure, the story really picked up. The next phase of the story, the journey of self discovery, was very well done, and I really enjoyed Q's process of unravelling the clues about his missing friend and his own view of the world. The end of the story (no spoilers) was definitely aimed at the YA reader. This is not a criticism, just an acknowledgment that from my perspective, I can not fully embrace the final conclusions.
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on July 30, 2015
Quentin, the main character, doesn’t know how to talk to the object of his affection, Margo. I understand how he feels; when I first started taking to girls on the phone I could only keep a conservation for five minutes. Also, the author “tells” the reader too much in the first part of the book. For example, the reader interjects the size of the male genitalia several times, which did not add anything to the story. I think the character Lacy said it best about this information, “not appropriate.” The second half is better than first, the author does a much better job of “ showing,” takes the reader on a wild road trip.
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on April 3, 2016
I found this book to be mostly boring. A bit of a disappointment after reading "Fault in Our Stars" and "Looking for Alaska." I felt it dragged on a little too much in the middle while Quentin was doing his "investigation" and there's a lot of details that could have been cut out, as they added nothing to the storyline or imagination. I held out until the end though, mostly because I know John Green will wrap it up nicely and pull everything together.... and he did... and that's the only thing that made this book worthwhile. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it, and I didn't think it was as insightful or interesting or funny as his other books. Nonetheless, I still like John Green and his books are always thought provoking and well-written.
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