Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: Paper Towns by John Green

Summary: 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. Printz Medalist John Green returns with the trademark brilliant wit and heart-stopping emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers.

I've been a fan of John Green's books ever since I first picked up Looking for Alaska a year or so ago. I love his writing as well as his vlogs on YouTube, so naturally, I was excited to read Paper Towns.

This book is divided into three parts: The Strings, The Grass, and The Vessel. As you read in the summary above, the first part is about a night where Margo Roth Spiegelman, Quentin's old childhood friend, takes him on a trip in the middle of the night where they perform various pranks, from breaking into houses to get revenge to breaking into Seaworld just for fun. This is the first time Margo and Quentin have "hung out" in years, and Quentin finds that what he thought was just a crush on the mysterious girl could be love.

The next morning, Margo goes missing. This isn't the first time, though; she always took off to go "exploring" and came back a few days later. Whenever she left, she would leave little, hard-to-find hints about where she was going. Now that Quentin felt closer to her after the previous night, he becomes determined to find her. So along with his friends Radar, Ben, and Lacey, he searches her house, the state, and practically the country for her. However, while continuing the search and figuring out clues, they find that Margo could be an entirely different person than who they had thought her to be.

I found the first two parts of this book a bit slow-moving. I also thought the plot was really similar to Looking for Alaska: Both are narrated by a boy who falls in love with a quirky, unique teenage girl. Something tragic happens to the girl. The boy and his friends spend the rest of the book searching for answers.

In the third part, however, it finally picked up and I couldn't stop reading. I was up until about two in the morning last night finishing this book. Despite the doubts I'd had about the book early on, it redeemed itself in the last hundred or so pages. While I don't think Paper Towns is John Green's best, it is definitely worth reading. The only problems I had with this book were that the plot seemed recycled at first and that I thought some of the characters were underdeveloped. 

In the end, however, I would give this book 3.5/5 stars. The writing is fantastic - the metaphors and clues really made me think sometimes - and the ending is very bittersweet. There are also a few lines that made me laugh out loud.

Paper Towns is a story that tells how our perceptions of people can be very different from who they really are. It's an interesting read, although I would definitely recommend checking out some of John Green's other books before judging him as a writer since this isn't his best piece.


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