Surely fans of young adult literature who do not live under rocks know John Green, and most probably love his books, so expectations for his latest, Paper Towns, will certainly be high. I adored Looking For Alaska and loved An Abundance of Katherines almost as much. So I was a little uncertain about reading this book, because I’d be seriously disappointed with anything less than totally brilliant with John Green’s name on it.
But Paper Towns does not disappoint! It reminded me of both of John Green’s previous books, and I know there are people who loved one and not the other, so everyone should find this book to be amazing (as it is).
In Paper Towns, Quentin Jacobsen has lived next door to Margo Roth Spiegelman in the same Orlando subdivision since they were two years old. As children, they played together, until one day when they were nine. That day, Margo and Quentin discovered a body in a nearby park. Neither of them knew this man, Robert Joyner, who killed himself in a public park leaving a body for two children to find, but this discovery changed their relationship. That night, Margo came to Quentin’s window, and they stood there for a long time. After that night, though, they took divergent paths in life.
Now Margo and Quentin are high school seniors. They still live next door to each other, and Quentin still thinks Margo is amazing and gorgeous, but they don’t speak. Their lives do not overlap. Margo is beautiful and popular and impulsive and adventurous. Quentin is something of a nerd, too analytical to be spontaneous or adventurous, and he continues to love Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So many crazy stories are told about Margo, too crazy to be true–but with Margo, they all turn out to be real.
One night, a few weeks before their high school graduation, Margo shows up at Quentin’s window again, and before he knows it, they’re off on a crazy night of revenge and adventure that involves dead fish, blue spray paint, blackmail, and breaking into Sea World, among other things. (Fun fact: I was actually reading this book (rather obsessively) on the night that these events supposedly happened!) It’s certainly a night to remember, and Quentin is certain that things between him and Margo will be different now–but when he gets to school the next day, Margo is gone. Nobody knows where she is. But all hope is not lost–Margo has left clues for Quentin, and he hopes they’ll lead him to her. In the process of searching for Margo, though, Quentin realizes that she wasn’t who he always though she was–and maybe he’s not who he thought he was, either.
It’s kind of hard to summarize this book, because, really, there’s little else like it and it doesn’t follow a prescribed formula for plot or anything, but Paper Towns is nothing short of brilliant. The only thing I didn’t like were the covers, but that’s hardly John Green’s fault, is it? There are two covers for this book, and they do reflect both sides of Margo’s personality, I guess, but I just don’t love them. I also don’t think they really reflect the whole story. But, other than that, I completely adored this book. It’s an intelligent, interesting novel that I literally could not put down. Oh, I forgot to mention–there is also a road trip! A crazy, intense road trip! I love books with road trips.
I couldn’t get enough of these fantastic, often quirky characters. They were real and three dimensional and diverse and fascinating, from Radar, an obsessive editor of Omnictionary whose parents own the world’s largest collection of black Santas, to Lacey, who turns out to be far more than she first appears to be. I wanted to spend more time with all of them than these 300 or so pages.
Paper Towns is a smart, thoughtful, funny, and hopeful novel that really epitomizes John Green’s brilliance. It has razor-sharp wit, fantastic writing, originality in spades, truth, and, well, everything that makes for a truly unbelievably wonderful novel. It will be out in October, at which point you must do everything in your power to get a copy immediately.