20 April 2014

Paper Towns

Author: John Green
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

Quentin has been in love with Margo Roth Spiegelman since as long as he can remember.  She has been his next door neighbor since they were two, and while she might not have the classic girl next door looks, charm, or innocence, that never stopped Q from falling clichely in love.  The fact that, now in high school, they hardly hang out does not stop Q either.

While one part high school romance, Paper Towns runs through deeper levels.  After Quentin and Margo spend an... interesting (to say the least) night together, Margo ups and disappears.  As someone who has run away several times before and as a legal adult now, neither her parents nor the cops seem too concerned, but Quentin makes it his life mission to follow the bizarre clues that Margo left behind to find her - alive or dead.

While the suspense isn't frightening or fast faced, it definitely exists as we follow Quentin through the poor excuses of clues that Margo leaves behind, wondering if she really has just run away and left clues because she wants to be found, or if she has killed herself and left clues to where one might find her body.  The ending isn't completely satisfying, and it felt selfish and rather unrealistic, but again - we are dealing with a 18 year old who still leaves clues when she runs away from home.  Repeatedly.

Unlike Quentin, I do not love Margo Roth Spiegelman.  I find her immature and childish, and wish she would grow up and face the realty of the real world that she is so desperately trying to escape to.  The one part I did like about the ending was the reactions on Lacey's and Radar's parts.  I do not find Q's obsession with this girl interesting, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the book.  After all, Paper Towns for me was more of the road taken instead of the destination reached.  And sure, the clues were rather ludicrious, as was Q's road trip, but still.  The novel introduced me to the fascinating concepts of paper towns, and it has some wonderfully remarkable quotes it in that I found compelling and insightful and impacting.

It is a moving story, but not for Margo Roth Spiegelman's adventures, but for Quentin.  Everyone has goals in life, and his goal is to love this girl who he has loved forever but who has never really loved him back, and his goal is to find her, and save her, and bring her back so that perhaps one day he can be with her.  And her goal is to escape from the paper people in the paper towns where she has lived her entire life.  Even Quentin's friends are interesting and add to the story, even if for the most part all they are concerned about are prom and getting laid before graduation.

While not a classic in the making, Paper Towns is classic John Green and is a story about two teenagers getting ready to graduate from high school into the real world and how these two very different teenagers deal with that pending doom and uncertainty.  And it's a story about one of them growing up and letting go, which is what every teenager secretly hopes for and fears at the same time.  Margo Roth Spiegelman never impressed me (if anything, her childish vandalism and revenge annoyed and slightly stared me), but Quentin did, because he refused to give up, and he stood by what he believed and what we wanted.  How many of us can truly say we've done that?

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