Book Review: Paper Towns by John Green

papertownsTitle: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Genre: YA fiction
Publisher: Dutton Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library.
First line: The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle.

Quentin, the protagonist of Paper Towns, is a high school senior, all set to graduate high school in a few weeks. His life consists of hanging out with his band geek friends, playing video games, studying, and worshiping Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. Q and Margo were friends as children, but their social circles no longer intertwine in the world of high school. So Q is more than a little surprised when Margo shows up at his window one night, dressed in black, and asks him to go on a revenge spree with her. Margo and Q have one amazing night full of daring exploits, and then Margo disappears.

It’s not the first time – Margo has run away before, and this time her parents aren’t going to look for her. Q is worried, though, and starts to look for the clues Margo always leaves behind when she runs. As he looks, he begins to realize that the Margo he is looking for may not be Margo at all.

This is my first experience with author John Green, but it certainly won’t be my last. I loved so many things about this book: Quentin is a fantastic character. In some ways, he’s a typical teenage boy, but he’s also thoughtful and intelligent and responsible. His friends Radar and Ben are hysterical (though I found the adolescent sexual humor a bit over the top – do teenage boys really talk like that?). I liked the fact that Quentin has a healthy relationship with his parents – an unusual thing in YA fiction.

But the best thing about this book is the writing. While plot and character still drive the book, the writing is brilliant. Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself” plays a big part in the plot, and the scenes in which Q is reading it, thinking about it, and discussing it could be a manual on how to read and experience a poem.

Green deals deftly with the feelings and issues that graduating seniors all deal with: the future – including college and marriage; independence and the process of breaking away from your parents and home; nostalgia for the high school years that are coming to an end. As Q and his friends track Margo and her bread crumbs, these topics are all handled with depth of emotion and understanding. I would have loved to read this book when I was in high school.

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19 Responses to Book Review: Paper Towns by John Green

  1. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    You’ ve made this book seem very attractive. A little nostalgia, a little mystery. I think I would have loved it in high school as well!
    .-= Sandy´s last blog ..Sunday Salon: Food and Water =-.

  2. Kathy says:

    Boy, does that sound good. I can’t imagine parents not looking for their children, though.
    .-= Kathy´s last blog ..Our Life in France – the train =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kathy – I can’t either, but in their defense she was 18 years old, about to graduate from high school, and the police wouldn’t even consider her a runaway. Plus it was like the 5th time she’d done it. 🙂

  3. Heather @ Book Addiction
    Twitter: BookAddictHeath
    says:

    I’m so happy you loved it so much! You MUST read Looking for Alaska next. While I loved both books, Looking for Alaska packed more of a punch for me, personally. But you are right about the writing – John Green writes brilliantly for teens. I also love the characters in his books – they are the type of people I would have loved to be friends with in high school, would even want to be friends with now, almost 10 years later. Great review of a great book!
    .-= Heather @ Book Addiction´s last blog ..This is Not How I Thought it Would Be by Kristin Maschka =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Heather – thanks – I as happy to discover my public library has both Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines. Will definitely be reading them!

  4. Ash says:

    This sounds like a really good book. It’s difficult to find YA I wish I would have read in high school so your last comment really makes me want to read it.
    .-= Ash´s last blog ..Sunday Salon: I’m Twenty! =-.

  5. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads
    says:

    I have owned Green’s books for years. Really I must read one, huh?
    .-= Beth F´s last blog ..Bloggiesta: Wrap-Up =-.

  6. softdrink says:

    I’m with Heather…you should read Looking for Alaska next! And don’t read anything about it before you read it. 😀

  7. Michelle says:

    I was just going to reiterate that you must read Looking for Alaska next. It is a fantastic book, especially if no one has ruined the twist for you. I’ve had Paper Towns on my TBR list since I finished my first experience with Green. He’s just an amazing author.

  8. Jen
    Twitter: jen_rose
    says:

    Agreed. I just read this one a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t put it down! It’s the first book in a long while that I was able to plow through in a weekend.

    It was my first John Green book too. Lots of people on the NaNoWriMo forums recommended him. Big factor in picking this one first was the Orlando setting… it was so much fun seeing streets and places I recognize in the story! 😀
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..Tonight. =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Jen – I loved Geography of Love for the same reason – recognized Spokane places and weather.

  9. Fyrefly says:

    That was my reaction to Paper Towns as well: Where was John Green and his books when I was in high school? I hope you enjoy his other two books – they’re both brilliant.
    .-= Fyrefly´s last blog ..Elizabeth Knox – The Vintner’s Luck =-.

  10. Alita says:

    I waited to read your review of Paper Towns until after I had read it, and I have to agree with you – the best think about it is the writing. Many times I would go back and reread passages because they were so well-written. I want everyone I know to read this book 🙂
    .-= Alita´s last blog ..Paper Towns by John Green (final thoughts with a Special Guest!) =-.