Monday, October 13, 2008

Book Review: Paper Towns by John Green

Quentin has always had a thing for his next door neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman, an adventurous free-spirit who exists on a higher social plain. So when she invites him out for a semi-law breaking all-nighter of getting even with those who have wronged her, Quentin joins in and has high hopes for a future together. But when Margo doesn’t show up for school the next day, Quentin finds out that she’s run away and only a series of clues, left just for him, might lead to her whereabouts. Will Quentin find Margo in time, or is she lost to him forever?

On the surface, this novel in three parts is a lot of fun. Part 1 (the frenzied night of pranks) and Part 3 (a frenzied road trip from Florida to New York) bookend a more mundane Part 2 (search for Margo and the day to day living of a teen approaching high school graduation). There is a cast of characters defined by their quirks – Quentin’s friend Radar is embarrassed by his parents’ large collection of black Santas, prom obsessed Ben tries to live down his “bloody Ben” nickname, and of course there is the magnificent Margo, the queen of quirk, who likes urban exploring and wants to live off the map a la “Alexander Supertramp” (see Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer).

Among all this quirk, Quentin is white bread. He’s well adjusted, has perfect attendance, and lives a normal teen life. In fact, his most defining characteristic is his fascination with Margo. And while this works well on a conceptual level, on a practical level it meant that I although I could connect with his ongoing search for identity, I had a harder time connecting with him as a character.

This was my first foray into John Green territory and I like his combination of humor and deep exploration of what it means to be human. I’ll be back. (Thanks JL!)
Paper Towns comes out on October 16th.

P.S. This counts as my first completed book in the LT Author Challenge.

13 comments:

Fyrefly said...

Lucky girl, able to get your hands on a copy of this before the release date! I've loved John Green's previous two books, and I'm anxiously awaiting this one.

Lenore said...

Yes - I'm very lucky! Looking forward to reading his other two.

Steph said...

What I thought was an improvement from Alaska in this one is that Q eventually realizes his obsession is not good. And although yeah it makes it heard to connect with him, it's nice to read a book where it's the GUY who's obsessed and not the girl who hyperventilates every time the guy so much as, I don't know, comes within 50 kilometers of her.

Ladytink_534 said...

This one sounds interesting. I've been reading a lot of YA fiction lately.

Nymeth said...

"I like his combination of humor and deep exploration of what it means to be human."

He does that well, doesn't he? I loooved his first two books too, and I can't wait to get my hands on this one.

Alea said...

I want to read this. I should have hunted for an ARC but I did not. Probably will get it in paperback! Got Looking For Alaska to hold me over!

keri mikulski :) said...

Can't wait to pick this one up. :)

Book Zombie (Joanne) said...

Great review! I just finished reading Green's other 2 books and I'm in love with this author. I can't wait to read Paper Towns.

Steve said...

Hmmm, sounds like a good one!!!

Lenore said...

Steph - good point :)

ladytink - me too. There really are so many exciting YA books these days!

nymeth - I'm sure you won't be disapointed!

alea, keri, joanne, steve - Get it :)

Melissa Walker said...

i have to read it. it's a cultural phenomenon!

Icedream said...

I would love to be entered for this. I love YA books. Paper Towns is on my wishlist but I really would say the book I would like to read most from Penguin is "Thirteen Reasons Why". The reviews have been great. Thanks for the chance!

Paige said...

(almost) best book ive ever read....

(Nerdfighter salut)

Looking For Alaska still wins though.