25 January 2010
Book Review: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Published: 2008 Pages: 305
Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid
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.
"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."
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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,