Thursday, September 30, 2010

REVIEW: Paper Towns by John Green

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. She has disappeared. Q soon learns that there are clues in her disappearance ...and they are for him. Trailing Margo's disconnected path across the USA, the closer Q gets, the less sure he is of who he is looking for.

It's taken me a long time to work out what I wanted to say about Paper Towns and about John Green. Most of you know I'm a huge fan? So I figured that I really couldn't write a normal review of this book. It just isn't possible without adding 'OMG! How much did I love this book?' all the time and coming over as all fan-girly. So instead, a list, to keep me focused. Of the top 5 ways that I loved this book.

1. The characters - First, there's Q. And because I've watched the video of John Green reading the first chapter of the book on his youtube channel, I picture Q with the voice of John Green in my head. Q is a really likeable and believable teenage boy. He's had a crush on his neighbour Margo Roth Spiegelman since forever and after they spend an adventurous night out and she disappears, Q takes it upon himself to track down the clues and find Margo. He can be a little dense sometimes and he's a little self-centred, but I heart him. I love how Margo comes across as this really larger-than-life character. Q really builds her up and holds her in high esteem and over the course of the novel as he learns more about Margo and himself, he's able to have a more realistic and complex view of her and of himself.

2. The layered narrative - If I didn't already love John Green before this, then I would have done after reading Paper Towns. He really combined so many things in this novel. The idea to imagine other people complexly, this concept of paper towns and paper people, the way in which the poetry of Walt Whitman and music added more to the story. The omnictionary made my inner-nerd smile. Even Margo's name adds to the message that John Green puts across in this book (it meaning 'mirror' in German, I believe). I went to an event to hear John Green speak in London and he talked about one particular scene in which he was trying to convey a message through the use of imagery, specifically mirrors and windows and I was blown away. Where Margo is trying to tell Q something important, and instead of seeing her like through a window, Q is seeing only a reflection of himself. (if that doesn't make sense then perhaps it will once you've read the book!)

3. The friendship - What's also great about Paper Towns is the friendships. I do so love the male bonding experience that most of John Green's characters go through. Paper Towns is no different, with Q's best friends Radar and Ben. They are absolutely hilarious to read about and some of the dialogue between these boys is pure genius. Also, black Santas? I could have died laughing. Whilst the boys' friendship is great, I also really loved the transformation of Lacey, former friend of Margo who goes from being a popular out-of-reach character to a member of the group as they race off on an adventure together.

4. The road trip - Which brings us to the road trip. Guys, I adore road trips in books, especially road trips like the epic one in Paper Towns. Hilarious, hilarious things happen on this road trip. I would kill to go on a road trip like this, playing Metaphorical-I-Spy and eating junk food with some of my best friends while fraught with emergency to get where you need to go by a certain time. I had so much fun reading this book. I feel a re-read coming on.

5. The fact that John Green is so amazing - Seriously, you guys. Read the books. Watch the YouTube channel. Join Nerdfighters. Fan-girl with me.

Needless to say, Paper Towns is one of my favourite books that I've read all year. Possibly ever. John Green is firmly on my list of favourite authors and I highly recommend this book!


  1. I think you have just sold it to me. As you got me into John Green in the first place, I would be rude not to read this!

  2. I'm with you on this one. I love the book, love the author. I saw him speak in February and he's just as funny in person and on the web. I thought it was interesting that he said Margo's last name means mirror in German (I believe it was German). He said he wanted her name to reflect the fact that everyone sees what they want to see in her, more than they actually see her. So good!

  3. Hi Vivienne - Aww, I hope you do read it :)

    Zara - Thanks!

    Avid reader - Yeah, I loved the thing about the name. And he told us that in our talk with him and I just couldn't remember afterwards if he'd say it was German or not. And he is incredibly funny, isn't he? :)

  4. Ok, all I'm saying now is that I'm adding this to my TBR pile. I've heard of John Green, but for some or other reason, haven't paid all that much attention to him. I'm going to be on the look out for Paper Towns though. I do adore road trips as well, so I'm sure this will be right up my alley.

  5. thebookfairyhaven - Oh do read it! It's brilliant. Such fun and intelligence all in one book :)

  6. The author sold me on An Abundance of Katherines. I really need to read this one too. It sounds so good!

  7. Literary Feline - oh you really should read it, you won't be disappoitned!

  8. hi!! I found your blog while looking for reviews of this book. I loved it (both the review and the blog)

  9. Thank you alexandra :) That's always wonderful to hear!

  10. Hey, Clover! I'm a huge fan of John Green from Brazil. I got to read him in english, 'cause just now his first novel was released in portuguese, and I've read Alaska, Katherines and Paper Town already.
    Well, your review is great! I loved your blog, so I linked your review in my own review from Paper Towns, mainly because we said differente things about it. His novels are so complex that lots of ponts of view can be found, all of them full of awesome, like he loves to say.

    Here goes the link to my blog, wich has, eventually, posts in english, and to my twitter as well. I'm a YA Books writer, actually, but my first novel was published only in portuguese... yet:-) See ya! adn


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