As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

July 18, 2013

PAPER TOWNS by John Green, 2009

When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q. (Amazon)

Reviewed by Julie, Children's lit enthusiast and pop culture geek

Quentin (or Q, as his friends call him) is a perfectly average,
slightly geeky teen boy.  In fact, he's almost startlingly
well-adjusted, which is why his story begins with a bit of a shock: One night, his next-door neighbor and dream girl, Margo Roth Spiegelman, climbs into his window and demands for his help in an all-night revenge spree.  When Margo disappears the next day, Q can't help but suffer the loss--and vow to find Margo, no matter what it takes.

Let me start out by saying everyone loves John Green.  I get that. The Fault in Our Stars is already beloved, a massive bestseller, and on the TBR piles of everyone from my teenage neighbor to my retiree mother.  But our love for that tragic romance shouldn't overshadow Green's other entertaining, brilliant works.  Paper Towns is one of these; it insightfully examines growing up, and the complications surrounding how we perceive ourselves and others.  John Green writes
with humor and intelligence, and never talks down to his
audience--which may partly explain his wide appeal.

I finished Paper Towns in two days, because Green's plot, the Edgar Award-winning search for Margo, drew me in.  But as I continued reading, a much greater mystery arises in Q's quest to "search" for who Margo really is.  Although I graduated high school a couple of years back, Green reminded me of the smoke-and-mirrors setting that high school is: as students struggle to find themselves, they sometimes drown in artificial presentations of self.  Thoughtful and motivated as Q is, he stumbles in believable places and strives to be seen in a favorable way.

Green's humorous aphorisms also make the book highly readable and enjoyable.  For one: "That's always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they're pretty. It's like picking your breakfast cereals based on color instead of taste." Another favorite:  "It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined."  Q's commentary makes PAPER TOWNS an excellent book club
candidate, appropriate for teen girls and boys alike.

Market: YA fiction
Violence: None
Language: Mild
Sensuality: Some kissing, and sex-related humor (the narrator is a teenage boy, after all)
Adult Themes: Adult Themes: Runaways, identity, coming-of-age/growing up

1 comment:

Amy Finnegan {} said...

John Green's books keep me up at night - in a good way! They tackle tough subjects, but in such an excellent way that the topic feels relatable; it leaves you with a much better understanding of those who suffer through it. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS is especially exceptional.