Monday, April 15, 2013

Paper Towns by John Green

So, I have officially now read all of this guys’ books! Technically, there’s still one more book that he co-wrote with two other authors and it’s about Christmas, and it’s sitting in my TBR pile, but still.  I already decided a few books ago, that I need to bow down to the awesomeness of this author. I feel like one of the things that keeps getting discussed by his fans is which of his wonders is the best. I’m pretty sure my order for his best works is as close to the order of which he has written them as can be possible (backwards). This is my order (so far, missing the Christmas book): 1) The Fault in our Stars, 2) Will Grayson, Will Grayson, 3) Paper Towns, 4) An Abundance of Katherines, and 5) Looking for Alaska. A lot of fans super love my least favorite of the five. But, I kind of felt like it was missing the super awesome juice of the other four.
Any way, having read all of these, I can see a lot common traits in Green’s writing. For starters, he loves road trips. He loves writing about girl characters who are way more than just pretty. He writes a lot about how the main character has to realize that his perception of said girl or even of the world isn’t necessarily how the girl or world is. He also likes to write about at least one character who doesn’t seem to care about what everyone else thinks. His main character always has a love of literature. There’s usually some kind of literary reference(s). He likes to write about the underdog. And he loves to write about the under dog, not necessarily succeeding, but at least learning.
And John Green always manages to do these things all exceptionally well. He gets how the teenage world works. He gets what is life-changing and amazing about it, and he gets what completely sucks more than anything else in the world about it. So when you combine his common traits with a general understanding of the teen psyche that most YA authors wish they had, and you mix it with one of my all time favorite book starts of all time, you get Paper Towns.
Seriously, the book starts with the main character’s long-lasting childhood crush breaking into his bedroom and recruiting him for an ultimate adventure. They drive around their hometown (Orlando, Florida), and do things like break into SeaWorld, after hours. There are snakebites and top of skyscraper views. And best of all there are the missions of revenge. Margo (the crush) gets revenge on the boyfriend who was cheating on her and the friends she thought she could trust. And the main character (Q), gets revenge on a bully. And it’s epic! What teenager wouldn’t want this adventure?
But then the night ends and Margo disappears. And Q realizes that Margo, as she does every time she runs away, has left behind some clues. This time the clues aren’t for her family, but for him. There’s clues left behind in her record collection, in an old paperback Whitman book, and in all sorts of places. So, while, Q’s best friends all get ready for prom, Q works on the mystery left behind for him by the one person he would drop everything for. There’s abandoned buildings, lots of poetry, some lying to the parents, plenty of video game playing, an epic road trip to end all road trips, some milestones, some amazing humor and dialog between Q and his besties, and one amazing coming of age adventure.
I loved that I wasn’t sure how it would end. For a while Q thought Margo might have killed herself, and so did I…I loved how her clues made him think. They made him think not just about where she might be, but where he was in the grander scheme of things. Margo was like this uber crush/celebrity obsession for Q, and it was so much fun watching him learn that she was actually a real person.
I loved Q’s friends. I loved that no one was perfect, but they all genuinely cared for each other. Their differences were not just believable, but they made the whole story work. My favorite part, aside from the revenge mission, would have to be the road trip. There were so many crazy, random details about things like 212 beers and special games of I Spy. Really, this book is full of completely random, yet also just appropriate details, like going naked under graduation robes, and being obsessed with certain websites.
And under all the sarcastic hilarity, there’s this kind of deep, philosophical outlook about life and death that actually kind of reminded me of some of the deeper moments of The Fault in our Stars. I loved reading all the interpretations of grass, and doors, and life and death, and even paper and plastic. And there’s this one conversation between Q and Margo, that while reading, physically gave me goosebumps. It’s short and fast, but what they were saying about things they both realized about the world just sunk in deep with me.
I kind of feel like if I keep talking, I will inadvertently spoil too much of this books’s goodness, and half of its wonder is in its random surprise. Just know that there are moments that will have you laughing out loud, there are moments that will give you goosebumps, and there are moments that will have you on the edge of your seat dying to figure out the clues. I give this one a 10/10. And as I said I’m already above and beyond the point where I will purchase any book with this author’s name on it. I just really hope he never stops writing.


  1. Dude, we agree on a thing! My order for Green's books is almost identical, only I would swap AAOK and PT. Paper Towns was too similar to Looking for Alaska for my tastes. Though I love Q's moments with his friends and the writing is amazing as ever, I just can't stand Margo, the same way I couldn't stand Alaska. I don't find them mysterious and alluring; I just think they're obnoxious and needy.

  2. I've only just discovered John Green's book recently and have enjoyed what I've read. Can't wait to read this one soon.

  3. I actually just purchased a copy of this book the other day, so I'm really happy it's great! :) Both the hilarity and characters sound awesome. Awesome review!