on October 2, 2008
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.
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.
on March 25, 2015
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.
I tried to like this book, but by the time the excruciatingly boring, hour-by-hour description of Quentin's and his friends' road trip came up, I had to wave the white flag. Here's why: While the concept of Paper Towns is great, the execution is poor. Enamored young fellow goes on a hero's quest to find/save his crush after she leaves a set of clues? Great! Hero and his fellow adventurers are flat characters? Not so great.
1. This is no bona fide mystery. It was obvious Quentin and his friends would find Margo alive by the end of the novel.
2. The book was overlong.
3. I did not care what happened to any of the characters -- especially Margo.
Green could have made Paper Towns far more readable by paring down the road trip section and giving some depth to his characters, especially Margo. How did she become such a selfish, bratty young woman? Why were her so-called friends enamored with her? And what in heaven's name did Quentin see in her? Deciding not to go to New York with Margo was the best decision Q could have made.
The best decision I could have made was to not finish this book.
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.
on November 19, 2008
"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.
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.
on February 28, 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.
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.
on July 31, 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.
on June 28, 2014
I had moderately high hopes for this book but unfortuately they were dashed, because a story about an18 year old boy going to all these ridiculous lengths to find an incredibly psychotic and selfish girl who probably has borderline personality disorder is the sort of thing that only selfish girls with borderline tendencies would enjoy. The parents of both Q and Margo were unrealistic and pathetically lacking in any real character traits. The book is sometimes funny, I liked the bit about the black Santa collection but that got old after the third time it was mentioned. Just the premise that this girl could go around doing whatever she wanted without facing real consequences while still being friends with people she treated like crap is ludicrous and I think I might try reading looking for Alaska but it's not at the top of my list and I do not have high hopes. Waste of my life and time.