25 January 2010

Book Review: Paper Towns

Title:  Paper Towns
Author:  John Green
Published:  2008  Pages: 305
Genre:  Er...Fiction

Buy  |  Borrow  |  Accept  |  Avoid

Plot Synopsis
Quentin Jacobsen's infatuation with the infamous Margo Roth Spiegelman causes him to have one night, one daring adventure with her.  Then she is gone, and he embarks on an even more daring adventure, starting with a poster of Woody Guthrie.

My Thoughts
"Margo always loved mysteries. And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one."  Margo is tragically beautiful.  That is my first thought about this book.  She is an oddly non-stereotypical stereotype.  The popular girl who is putting on a show for the world, more a mirror than a real person, and she knows it, even encourages it.  Hers is a world of secrets, a world where her best friends don't know about her obsessive love of music, where Walt Whitman and Sylvia Plath speak to her.  She bemoans the love affair the world has with the future, diminishing the importance of now, and yet her time is spent planning for the future, and the planning is more to her than the doing.  A woman-child of contradictions who is at once frustrating and admirable.  I simultaneously want to be her and am glad I am not her.

The enigma that is Margo is the heart of this novel, and Q's infatuation with an idea of her is the central conflict.  He realizes at one point that he had made a 'fundamental mistake' because "Margo was not a miracle.  She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl", and when Margo was not being Margo, "she felt empty."

The plot of this book reminded me of I Love You Beth Cooper and the perks of being a wallflower, and yet I find this book infinitely more satisfying.  The three books are all at their core coming-of-age novels about a last high school hurrah, and yet with Paper Towns the last hurrah is only the precursor to a much more meaningful and tragic adventure.  I wish I could say more, and I think I do have more to say, but to do so would require spoilers, and I am highly recommending that you read this for yourself.

I read this in one day, one sitting, to the displeasure of my home-from-work-and-bored husband.  Thank you so much to my Secret Santa Briana from The Book Pixie, for giving me this for Christmas.

Memorable Scene:  At one point, Q and friends have to make a bathroom, gas, and food pit stop in under 6 minutes. As the group runs back to the van, groceries in hand, I could feel the beauty of being young. The quickness, the pleasure in this seemingly inconsequential feat, was beautiful.  As Q thinks, at this moment, they are "Young. Goofy. Infinite."

Memorable Quote: "Tonight darling we are going to right a lot of wrongs. And we are going to wrong some rights. The first shall be the last; the last shall be the first; the meek shall do some earth-inheriting.  But before we can radically reshape the world, we need to shop."

Other Reviews
If I've missed yours, let me know!

things mean a lot; Becky's Book Reviews; Books and Movies; Fyrefly's Book Blog;

FTC Disclosure:  As I received this for Christmas, it is quite possible that the book is totally and completely illegally obtained.  Perhaps my Secret Santa received this book from a publisher in exchange for a glowing review and for passing it along to another blogger. Perhaps she received the book in exchange for illicit activities in the back of a mini-van.  But I doubt it. 

Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, YA Reading Challenge, Reading Resolutions,


  1. I find it hard to believe that I still haven't read any books by John Green, despite all of the great things I have heard about his writing (not to mention having met him at a book signing and having his signed book on my shelf). I've got to make a mental note to read that book. :)

  2. I need to read something more by him. I read An Abundance of Katherines this summer but I feel like I didn't get it because I didn't really understand his voice. Now, after seeing a bunch of his vlogs, I think I'd understand his writing better.

  3. I think it's hard to really write about a Green book because you don't want to spoil the plot and the fun for everyone else. But you chose some great excerpts...and I love that quote.

    I think my favorite part of this one was the road trip. You're right, it does capture the beauty of being young. It was so ridiculous, but yet so vivid.

  4. Lauren @ Half Deserted Streets just reviewed this book a few days ago! And I had no idea that it was set in Orlando! Very cool.

  5. Okay. I so want to read this now. I checked out from the library and it's just sitting on my shelf. I might just go pick it up right now.

  6. I love your FTC disclosure ... and I LOVE the cover of the book. I'm not sure I want to try John Green again after not caring too much for "Looking for Alaska." (That is the same author right?)

  7. I've read so many great reviews of John Green's books around the blogosphere, but I still haven't read his books myself. I wanted Looking for Alaska for New Year but I got another book instead.

    Loved your FTC disclosure :)

  8. Alyce - It is very cool you met him. You should definitely read the book.

    Amanda - This is the only book I've read by him, but I very much enjoyed it.

    softdrink - Exactly!

    Sandy - Yep, and the setting is actually treated like a real place instead of the "just sort of there" settings of some books.

    Sarah - I would definitely recommend reading it.

    Jenners - I think it is the same author. This is the only book of his I've read.

    Hazra - I've only read this one and I've heard mixed reviews about Looking for Alaska. If you read it, let me know what you think.

  9. I've read everything Green has written and enjoyed it--you picked it out my favorite part of Paper Towns; the timed pit stop during their road trip!

  10. I loved this, too - thanks for linking to my review! I also loved Looking for Alaska, and I'm going to start An Abundance of Katherines soon.

  11. Jeanne - The pit stop is a truly wonderful scene.

    Carrie - Not a problem. I can't wait to see what you think of An Abundance of Katherines.


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