While Paper Towns is certainly not a new book, it is a new book to me. I’ve read other John Green novels enough to know that I enjoy his work and can read through one of his books in one otherwise boring afternoon. This matched that expectation, it was extremely difficult to put down once the story had wrapped its way around my brain and was both romance and mystery in one novel. This novel was without the sappy bullshit that many teen romances use as a filler to increase the page count without giving any actual integrity to the story. If you’re on the hunt for some light reading with a good storyline and you enjoy young adult fiction then this is the perfect book to add to your library and one that won’t take up weeks of your life.
John Green is also a master at bringing his story to life with his use of imagery and metaphors, painting a vivid picture of the places and people that fill his beloved tales.
Goodreads rating as of this post: 3.85/5 based on more than 45,000 reviews.
WARNING: Spoilers beyond this point.
The plot of Paper Towns is that of an ordinary girl, Margo Roth Spiegelman, with a wandering heart who is seen as truly extraordinary by her next-door neighbor and once friend, Quentin. When Margo goes missing Quentin is determined to solve the mystery of where she has disappeared to this time and join her fantastic, mysterious adventure.
Near the beginning of the novel, Margo’s life falls apart because of the discovery that her boyfriend has been cheating on her with one of her best friends for weeks now and she exacts a marvelous revenge plot in a single night. It is after this that she apparently vanishes into thin air, leaving everyone to wonder, ‘what adventure is Margo carving out for herself this time?’
For the first half of the book you find yourself, and Quentin, questioning whether you will find her dead in some abandoned place. As if she chose him to leave her twisted suicide note to.
Through following the clues left behind, both purposeful and accidental, Quinn discovers where Margo will be until midday the day after graduation and races to find her with his friends piled into his questionably safe minivan for a spontaneous and ill-advised road trip. When they come upon her Margo has been living in a paper town, a made-up place that became real when someone built a general store that had since been abandoned. And she isn’t pleased to see him.
The book ends with Margo and Quentin each taking the path that they have chosen, and whether they are paper people, or simply aren’t being imagined as they are, they will find their own way.
Favorite quotes from the novel:
“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.”
“It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.”
“I'm not saying that everything is survivable. Just that everything except the last thing is.”
“The town was paper, but the memories were not.”
“When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.”
“It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined.”
“Here's what's not beautiful about it: from here, you can't see the rust or the cracked paint or whatever, but you can tell what the place really is. You can see how fake it all is. It's not even hard enough to be made out of plastic. It's a paper town. I mean, look at it, Q: look at all those culs-de-sac, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses that were built to fall apart. All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm. All the paper kids drinking beer some bum bought for them at the paper convenience store. Everyone demented with the mania of owning things. All the things paper-thin and paper-frail. And all the people, too.”
“Margo always loved mysteries. And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.”
“I'm starting to realize that people lack good mirrors. It's so hard for anyone to show us how we look, & so hard for us to show anyone how we feel.”
“Isn't it also that on some fundamental level we find it difficult to understand that other people are human beings in the same way that we are? We idealize them as gods or dismiss them as animals.”