Review

Review | Paper Towns by John Green

This is my favourite John Green book.

Okay, the review’s over now.15. Paper Towns

Well, not really. It is my favourite, so I’ve got quite a bit to say.

Summary

Life changes for Quentin “Q” Jacobsen when Margo Roth Speigelman enters his life. She would become the love of his life, his personal miracle, his mystery to uncover. Or rather, love from afar, since despite his crush on her, he hasn’t talked to her since they were children.

He just didn’t know his life would change again when she disappeared.

Plot

The search for Margo, both physically and mentally, is what drives the story. The set up is admittedly awkward, the book beginning and ending with road trips that sandwich the hunt for Margo. I’ve always liked the parallels between the two road trips, though, which really showed how much the characters have changed. It makes the transition period worth it. Plus, when it’s full of lines like this,

sometimes, he’s so retarded, he’s brilliant

it’s just a fun read.

In the end though, this story isn’t plot driven, it’s character driven. The plot is about how these characters change. And with that, let’s move onto those characters, shall we?

Characters

I love all of these characters. A lot. And that’s saying something.

Q is probably one of my favourite protagonists. I identify with him a lot, and his progression throughout the story is great. His obsession with Margo is justifiable and believable, and his comfort in routine is relatable.

Ben and Radar are the best. Mostly because they aren’t just foils for one another. They are both sources of comedy, both sources of deep thought (though one more than the other in both cases), and both really good friends.

I can’t bring myself to hate Margo despite all the grief she causes. Mostly because, to certain extent, it isn’t her fault. Or rather, it’s not just her fault. The funny thing is we don’t really learn anything about Margo, except what she’s not. And that’s a powerful thing.

Writing

Paper Towns is slice of life done right. It takes all of my problems with Looking for Alaska and fixes them. Q’s search for Margo reveals more about himself and the other people who join him on the search than about Margo herself. There’s the right amount of distress, the right amount of fear, the right amount of comedy.

Plus, John just knows how to speak from a teenager’s perspective. He captures that feeling of being lost and unsure. And when the characters learn something, it feels genuine, not forced. It’s what I love about Paper Towns.

Themes

Paper Towns is about empathy. And how it’s practically impossible. Instead of discovering other people as the characters try to understand them, they find out more about themselves. Now that I think about it, Paper Towns is a lot like Tristram Shandy. 

But I also find that Paper Towns is about the danger of us attributing meaning to things. It’s about the danger of symbols, of metaphors. I’m never fully convinced of Margo’s strings, Whitman’s grass, or Q’s cracked vessel, and yet I’m okay that I don’t fully agree with any of these metaphors. After all,

We don’t suffer from a shortage of metaphors

Final Verdict

Recommendation: Bookmarked for life. Paper Towns has and always will be my favourite John Green book.

Wow. I’ve been giving this rating a lot recently. Well hey, these books deserve it.

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2 thoughts on “Review | Paper Towns by John Green

  1. In Plot, you’ve written is “But what I really like is that ”
    What? What is it that you really like? Tell us!
    And yes! I loved your review. It’s my favourite John Green book as well so I know exactly what you mean in the first three sentences of this review.

    Like

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