Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Paper Towns: The Most Thriller-Esque John Green Novel to Date

Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Publisher: Speak
Publication Date: September 22, 2009
Format: Paper Back
Genre: YA; Contemporary; Thriller
Rating: ✎✎✎✎


Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back 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 of the girl he thought he knew.

My Thoughts and Reflection:

I walked into this novel in a rush; December was wrapping up and I was only a couple books away from reaching my goal of 100 for 2013.  I'd read lots of John Green before, but this one I just hadn't gotten around to.  I was expecting a typical contemporary romance in John Green fashion.  
That's not what I got.  
That blurb is just so darn terrible.  I mean, it does give a taste for the book, but doesn't really give you a feel for how the entire book fits together.  
Quickly into the start I had some worries.  I felt like I was reading Looking for Alaska by John Green all over again.  Now, with an ending like that one I was temporarily taken aback.  However, my suspicions soon faded way as I discovered how different this book was from what John Green has also written.
I think that main difference (from his other work) is how this book was paced; I found it to almost be a thriller.  Paper Towns had this fantastic urgency to it.  His other work tends to be more mellow and focused on relationship development.  In Paper Towns the race against time really determined if there would even get to be any relationship development. 
Margo was a deep character.  She was secretive, aloof, and down right unhappy.  I would have hated her in person however, because she was an attention seeking, secretive, angst ridden teenage girl who needed to just come home.  The whole "clues" thing was an interesting concept, and I think that it revealed how immature Margo truly was.  Overall  I found her character annoying, but still liked what it did to the story.  If that makes any sense.
Quentin was a great character.  He was endearing, full of endless love, and was, oh wait, just like Pudge (from Looking for Alaska).  However, Quentin's endless love and concern for Margo really manifests itself when Quentin realizes the urgency of his search.  The moments when he is begging Margo in his mind to not be dead are completely heartbreaking, and really show an incredible side of vulnerability that we never see with Pudge.  Yes, we do see lots of vulnerable moments with Pudge, but we don't get  worry time, we just get *(ALERT! ALERT!  LOOKING FOR ALASKA SPOILER)* dead-sadness time.  I've decided to consider them brothers of sorts.  I don't know, what do you think?
John Green's fabulous ability at writing secondary characters really shined in this book.  The entire road-trip/all the interactions between Quentin and his buddies are completely priceless.  The secondary characters all had lives, and while obviously we knew who was the protagonist in our story, they didn't.
As always, John Green delivered amazingly beautiful writing.  Here are some of my favorite moments:

"All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm." -Margo (pg. 57)

"I've lived here for eighteen years and I have never once in my life come across anyone who cares about anything that matters." -Margo (pg. 58)

"We play the broken strings of our instruments one last time." -Quentin (pg. 304)

My favorite part of the entire novel was that another one of John Green's abilities didn't fail again; his ability to write satisfying, but not necessarily happy endings.  This ending left some room for imagination.  I personally think that after their sweet kiss, Quentin and Margo part ways and never see each other again.  Maybe I'm tying in a little too much of Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl, but that's what I concluded.  What do you think happens to Quentin and Margo after Paper Towns ends?


John Green impressed me with this thrilling contemporary spin on teenage relationships.  However I will be reading carefully in the future to check and make sure that he's careful of repeating characters.  


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