Review: Paper Towns – John Green

paper towns

Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publication Date: October 16, 2008
Source/Format: Library / Hardcover, 305 pages
Opening Sentence: “The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle.”
Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon

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 the girl he thought he knew.

Wow, I have no idea where to start with this one. Not even because I have a whole lot to say (because I kind of don’t), but because I just can’t get my thoughts in a line about this novel. I’ll begin by saying that I am a John Green fan. He is such a terrific author and he uses literary devices so fluidly that you hardly realize they’re there and serving their purpose. But, of course, they are.

Now that that’s out of the way lets continue. At the very beginning of the book I was on the fence about whether I would like it or not because, to be completely honest, it didn’t grab me. I put it down for a few days, picked it back up, and then everything was peachy. But even while I was reading it and enjoying it there was something that made me feel weird. I have no idea what it was, but I’ll get back to you with any news on the subject.

Despite not feeling impressed at the beginning I eventually started reading again, and that counts for something, right? I’m glad I gave it another chance because I really feel this novel has a lot to offer. You can read rather mindless YA books all the time, but Paper Towns is different…. There’s Whitman, Guthrie, Plath, and others contributing to this book and making it interesting and intelligent to read, all in addition to Green’s initial wittiness and I love that… probably because they are people (and works) that I love too. It makes it all the realer for me.

I’m not sure how, because it’s difficult, but John Green is so excellent at writing stories that are trying, intelligent, a little silly at times, and usually humorous and packing them nice and neat into the books that the audience eventually reads. It’s a talent, my friends, and one that John Green clearly possesses.

Also, can we take a second to talk about the sentences that are one word comprised of several words smashed together? (Is there a name for that? I would love for someone to fill me in, because honestly, that last sentence sucked.) I love when authors use subtle things like that to express urgency, excitement, fear, whatever.

For instance: In the first couple pages young Margo and Quentin come across something so terrible it sticks with them forever. (Sorry, readers. Don’t want to spoil too much for people who have never read the book.) Quentin, being a rather normal nine-year-old, is flustered and scared and just wants to get out of there, so he says: “Margowegottagohomeandtell.” Margo is cool, calm, collected… curious and wants to know more, but Quentin is still freaking out. He says again: “Margowegottagorightnow!”

Don’t you love that? It’s such a great contrast between the two, but it’s also fabulous at conveying the level of fear that poor Quentin is feeling in that moment… without coming right out and saying it. The sight intrigues Margo, but Quentin, he just wants to get away… needs to get away and it’s such a desperate need that he doesn’t have the time to keep calm and speak normally.

As whole, (setting weirdness, “honeybunnies”, and peeing in bottles aside; ugh, ugh, ew) I really enjoyed reading this book. John Green is masterful at keeping his stories from getting too heavy or too light and I think that great balance is a huge reason so many people like his work. As far as things go for me: I’m awaiting his next release.

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

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