Day 11: Paper Towns by John Green
Summary From Goodreads:
Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life – dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge – he follows.
After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues – and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer Q gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew.
Another John Green book, another emotional journey that can only be created by the awesomeness that is his royal puffness (nerdfighter reference). I knew I would love this as I have loved every John Green book so far, but I didn’t know that it would leave me an emotional wreck at the end which is exactly what it did. Even worse? I had to go to work right after, so I had no time to relax and get back to normal, oh well. Enough rambling, onto the review!
What shocked me the most about Paper Towns was that, in a stunning turn of events, it was the plot that was more vital to how awesome the story was then the characters. Where as in The Fault in Our Stars and arguably An Abundance of Katherines as well the characters dominate, in this case the crazy lengths Q goes to in order to find Margo are what makes this so compelling. While reading I did notice that the story drags a bit in the middle and while reading it almost seems to be going nowhere. However, what you realize is that the build up in trying to find Margo isn’t the point, and that even Margo herself isn’t the most important part, it is the journey, the trip the friends take, and the bonding and changing of all the people involved, even if it is only to some small degree, that makes it worthwhile.
Q is a fantastic character not because he is himself fascinating in really any way, but because he is just the opposite. You can relate to Q, or at least I could. He is just fine with the way things are in his life, saying at one point something akin to the boredom not really being that boring, or if it is that he doesn’t mind it. The sameness is alright with Q, and I think that is something most people can identify with. Your routine may be extremely repetitious, but it is yours so it doesn’t matter, but most people don’t have what Q does, a Margo to break that pattern to smithereens.
Margo is a force, whether you end up liking her in the end or not she wills herself into Q’s life and makes him realize all that he is capable of should he simply want enough. She gives him options, in fact she makes him have them, she lets him know what there is out in the world and then releases him to do what he will with it. She’s got more baggage then most people put together, much of which is truly her own doing, though her parents are just loathsome to behold and certainly don’t help matters, but that doesn’t stop her from being likable, and doesn’t force you to pity her either. Green makes both of the main characters and their friends as real as the ones you have, but unless you are quite lucky they all somehow have better senses of humor.
This is something I have noticed as a trend in Green’s books, his characters share his brand of intelligent humor, the quirkiness and the nerdiness that make him so compelling is a part of almost all of them. They each have their own version or take on it, focusing on one area of it or another depending on what is needed. Maybe this is due to the fact that Green has been surrounded by so many intelligent and quirky people, whether it is his brother Hank, Maureen Johnson, or countless others, these characters are realistic in his actual world, even if, at least to me, they seem ideal, a bit incredible. It doesn’t detract from his books, but in many circles it wouldn’t be realistic to assume most, if any of the group would have people capable of these kind of jokes and references.
To get back on track, Green does an excellent job at effortlessly creating his world, the literal places he uses it is no surprise that he has so much knowledge of since he lived there and so the details of it fit in perfectly. I really don’t have any flaws to point out in Paper Towns other then that slight slowness in the middle. When you get down to it though, that journey is worth the wait, that adventure worth all of the mundane the characters have gone through to get there, and the outcome is impactful regardless about if you enjoy it. Paper Towns delivered a sucker punch to my gut, and it hurt, but I was alright with it. We don’t all have our own Margo, but I’m glad I got to experience Green’s. As always, thanks for reading.