A Review of Paper Towns by John Green


The man pictured above is John Green. He is a well known Youtuber  and the author of multiple bestselling YA novels. Perhaps most notably he wrote TFIOS or The Fault in Our Stars. He also puts peanut butter on his face. You may or may not be aware but the film Paper Towns (which was adapted from John Green's book of the same name) is coming out soon. If you're at all nerdy or you hang out with nerdy people chances are you're going to be hearing a lot about Paper Towns. It's going to consume your life. Everywhere you look people will be talking about it or their will be advertisements for the film or book. In fact if you're the sort of person who reads this type of blog I would put money on you seeing the Paper Towns movie within the next two years. Now that we've accepted that you are definitely going to see this hopefully awesome movie I would just like to tell you a little about the book that started it all.

   Paper Towns is about a guy named Quentin Jacobsen (Q for short) who is deeply in love with the idea of his next door neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman. Q is pretty much your average guy. He's a bit smarter than most and he's initially somewhat withdrawn but  he doesn't have much of a story of his own. He's in many way very similar to the character of Pudge in Green's first novel Looking for Alaska. In Looking for Alaska Pudge is a teenager who obsesses over the last words of dead people but does not live himself until he goes to a boarding school in Alabama in search of a "great perhaps." The great perhaps represents everything that people wait for and want to happen and also the lack of control and the intensity of the experience of just letting go and allowing life to happen.

    It's an idea that's completely abstract but also core to the lives of Green's protagonists. Margo herself becomes an abstract concept to Q. She keeps him at a distance for years, pops back into his life one night and then vanishes leaving cryptic clues and unanswered questions.  For Pudge the great perhaps is Alaska Young and Culver Creek Preparatory High School. For Q the great perhaps is  Margo Roth Spiegelman or the journey to find her or at least understand understand who she is.

  One of the reasons I love Looking for Alaska is that it allows the reader to draw their own conclusions about the motivations of the characters and the true nature events. It left questions hanging because the point of the book was asking the questions not answering them. To me Paper Towns feels like a thematic sequel to Looking for Alaska. It takes similar characters on the same sort of journey in search of personal connection, meaning and truth but this time it doesn't leave you wondering. We get to see what the pixie manic dream girl really is like when she's alone and it's sad and harsh and not what we want to see but it's also something that needs to be seen. DFTBA!!

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