Paper Towns Book Review
★★★★★ (out of 5)
April 9, 2015
John Green’s next film adaptation set to be released this summer is his fast-paced, mystery-romance novel, Paper Towns. The storyline follows the remaining days of Quentin Jacobsen’s senior year and his relationship with the girl next door, Margo Roth Spiegelman. Quentin grew up admiring the wild and eccentric Margo, but they have grown apart since their younger years. One night, Margo sneaks into Quentin’s room, demanding his assistance in an all-nighter plan of revenge. It is this revenge night where Margo explains how the city of Orlando is a “paper town”, referencing to people’s superficiality in that town. After a whole night of avenging Margo’s “friends”, sneaking into SeaWorld, and driving around Orlando, Margo disappears the next day. Using hints from Walt Whitman and Woody Guthrie left by Margo, Quentin and his friends track down Margo through an adventurous road trip as they come to realize that Margo is not who she seems to be.
This John Green novel is nothing like his others, but contains the philosophical ideas Green has had through many of his characters, making this novel untypical. Green expresses his philosophies into Margo, who is portrayed to be adventurous, bold and unique. Margo does not only express these deep messages, but also influences the other characters throughout the story. As Quentin continues his search for her, he begins to empathize with her and think like her. Even without her presence, the characters begin to see her perspective as they learn more about Margo from her clues. However, the characters of Radar and Ben are still quite unique to provide comedy in the mystery.
The mystery-genre style in this young adult novel made the book even more enjoyable as it deviates from typical teenage books. This mystery aspect creates a fast-paced plot, where there are very few moments in the storyline with shallow conversation – something exciting happens immediately after the last one. The ambiguous Margo drives the plot as the reader yearns to discover the truth about her. The plot runs everywhere and moves as Margo and Quentin decide what to do next.
The message of the book is philosophical but tangible to teenagers; it creates a setting where it is dangerous to imagine someone as more than human and to create a fake image of ourselves. Green wants us to be ourselves and to not think of anyone more perfect. This novel not only provides us with a character-driven, intriguing plot with unique characters, but also a relatable message that I am excited to see conveyed in theatres this summer.