“Paper Towns” is John Green’s third novel. It was published on Oct. 16, 2008 by Dutton Books.
By now, you’ve probably heard of John Green from somewhere – his novels, movies, activism, charities and dozen or so youtube channels, most famously Vlogbrothers. He’s getting to be a big deal right now, ever since the immense popularity of his most recent novel and its movie adaptation, “The Fault in Our Stars.” John Green is a prolific young adult writer known for creating funny and wildly adventerous stories about contemporary teenagers dealing with the first hardships of life, love and self-realization.
“Paper Towns” is the story of Quentin, often called Q, who has always loved Margo from afar. One night, Margo shows up at Quentin’s bedroom window and takes him on a crazy escapade through a fictional Floridian sub division and Orlando. They play revenge pranks on schoolmates, watch over the city from atop the SunTrust building and break into SeaWorld. Then Margo completely disappears – she’s not at home, school or anywhere else to be found. From here, the novel becomes the story of Quentin’s quest to find Margo and discover the many secrets she has hidden in her life. He enlists in the help of several friends and together they research, scour the town and eventually go on a cross country road trip to track Margo down.
I am going to admit that I am a huge fan of John Green and this is probably my favorite novel by him. I read “Paper Towns” a little bit late into my adolescence, I was about eighteen, and it made me feel like I had completely lost out on the freedom and potential that comes with being a teenager. Quentin is extremely real to me, more so than most of the YA protagonists today that are over dramatized and cliche. He is in way over his head, struggling for life to make sense again. He has a strong line up of spontaneous and individually gifted friends who remind me constantly of some of the friends I had back in high school.
But don’t get me wrong, “Paper Towns” is not ultra-realistic. It is a kind of fantasy story, taking to the concievable limit what a group of high school students are capable of to achieve a goal. The novel is often hilarious in it’s strangeness and yet all too relatable to the reader. The prose is wonderful and every character’s dialogue is totally unique and well placed.
My feelings about the end are a bit mixed. I do not want to spoil anything, but, to me, Margo’s fate was left too undecided. Like it could have benefited from some sort of short epilogue. When I finished the novel, I was worried for Margo’s future and I couldn’t tell if Quentin’s dreams would end up as a reality or not. Instead, the novel ends with a sign of hope on a big stretch that could easily and is likely to fall apart at that age. I don’t think this style of ending would have been an issue if they were older, but it kind of finishes an otherwise great, comedic novel on sad note of harsh reality that the protagonist isn’t even aware of yet. To the age appropriate reader, maybe it feels differently. And that’s why I said the novel is more of a fantasy. A plausible fantasy, which is why I love it.
Anyway, it really is an amazing novel. if you haven’t read it, do it. “Paper Towns” is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository and most other major booksellers.
You can also check out the “Paper Towns” film adaptation which comes out Friday, July 24 2015.
4.75 / 5