Book Review: Paper Towns by John Green

Published: October 16, 2008

“Pure entertainment on the outside, with a deeper meaning in the middle.”

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What Is ‘Paper Towns’ About?

Quentin Jacobsen has always loved Margo Roth Spiegelman, for Margo (and her adventures) are the stuff of legend at their high school. So when she one day climbs through his window and summons him on an all-night road trip of revenge he cannot help but follow.
But the next day Margo doesn’t come to school and a week later she is still missing. Q soon learns that there are clues in her disappearance . . . and they are for him. But as he gets deeper into the mystery – culminating in another awesome road trip across America – he becomes less sure of who and what he is looking for.

Why Did I Read ‘Paper Towns’?

A little while ago I read ‘A Fault In Our Stars’ by John Green and was genuinely moved. I also watched the film and loved it.
I’ve been following vlog brothers on You Tube for some time now and also read ‘Parable of The Sower’ based on John Green’s recommendation – which is fantastic.
I’ve recently been drawn into the channel ‘Crash Course’ which is interesting and not too long ago I watched this video, during which Green mentions his novel ‘Paper Towns’. I also watched the trailer for the film based on this novel:

What I Liked About ‘Paper Towns’

Very early in you can tell that this is a John Green novel or certainly that it was written by the same author as ‘The Fault In Our Stars’. Lots of witty dialog, the occasional mention of an historical or scientific fact and in general teenagers speaking older than their years. But where as ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ came across like a deep and meaningful sad story – Paper Towns is coming across like pure entertainment.
This novel is really funny in parts – there’s a student party which is done really well and generally the banter between the students makes for some great moments.
Paper Towns is broken into three parts:
1) The first part is Margo and Quentin’s night together, where they work through a series of revenge pranks set up by Margo.
2) The second part is Margo’s disappearance and the finding of clues that may lead to where she’s hiding.
3) The third part is a road trip to get Margo.
What’s interesting is the ‘bite size chunks’ in which the story is given to you.
The first part is, for the majority, broken up by the tasks as Margo goes on her ‘tongue in cheek’ rampage of revenge.
The second part is broken up by the clues that Quentin finds explaining the disappearance and possible location of Margo.
The third part is broken up by the hours that pass on the road trip.
The actual concept for this novel is a GREAT idea. Educational, cultural and littered with social commentary. It was the perfect excuse for a combination of love story, mystery, road trip and slapstick young adult fiction.

What I Didn’t Like About ‘Paper Towns’

Paper Towns is a coming of age story and a really good one. However, as good as it is, it’s also a mystery for a large portion, consisting of Quentin sitting around thinking about the clues Margo has left for him. That process, though interesting in parts, does occasionally need filler so that the story can allow for time to pass.

Good Or Bad?

Was this book any good? Yes, very good. I can recall thinking that it was pure entertainment when I first started reading it – but this quickly became pure entertainment on the outside, with a deeper meaning in the middle.
Would I recommend it? Yes, definitely.
Would I read it again? Probably not, although I’ll be watching the film soon.

 

Here are some other reviews:
Parable Of The Sower by Octavia E. Butler
Misery by Stephen King
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
On Writing (A Memoir Of The Craft) by Stephen King
The Big Short by Michael Lewis

What’s on the list?
The Lafayette Campaign by Andrew Updegrove
The Hidden Legacy by GJ Minett
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

 

Any suggestions?

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David P. Philip


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