Monday, January 16, 2017

Review of Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns Who is the real Margo?

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew...

(Summary from GoodReads)

When I read Looking for Alaska and The Fault In Our Stars, I adored both of them.  If I were to reread them both of them again today, I think life experience would cause me to feel differently.  Paper Towns has been on my radar since I started blogging in 2010 and I was motivated to pick it up when an adaptation of it was released in 2015.  Once I finished this book I finally understood why people tend to think of John Green as overrated.  If you don’t mind a mediocre road trip story featuring the pursuit of a manic pixie dream girl with some clever details, you’ll definitely enjoy this one.

I didn’t find either Quentin or Margo that fully fleshed out as characters.  Green excels at writing a history for them, and those parts of the story were good.  Margo isn’t necessarily supposed to be a character that we know a lot about, and Quentin is romantically interested in her more for nostalgic reasons.  I had a crush on the same person all four years of high school, and tried to pursue it, but it never went anywhere, so while I understood, I didn’t find it particularly interesting.  It was realistic, but I didn’t care whether or not Quentin and Margo wound up together.  I liked Radar a lot, but also found myself side-eying parts of his story.

The plot of this story was mildly amusing, though one road trip book about a white privileged high school male may be enough to last me a lifetime.  Sure, Quentin wants to live life more fully.  Sure, Quentin seems to think some of the people around him are kind of fake.  The case of manic pixie dream girl is all too real.  These themes probably sound familiar because they’re in a lot of young adult books, and I just fail to see what Green does to put a new spin on them.  His prose is lovely and from a literary perspective, he incorporates fascinating facts and concepts into his story.  While this was fine, I just don’t feel like anything made up for the serious case of MPDG.

A colleague of mine told me after I finished this that it was her least favorite of Green’s books, and I can see why.  I understand how some teens could read encounter this book and feel like they’ve never read anything like it before.  Paper Towns is not a bad book, but it didn’t do a thing for me as a reader.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

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