Paper Towns, by John Green

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I resisted reading anything by John Green because my sister is moderately obsessed with him. There, I said it. It’s not that I don’t think anything she likes can’t be good, but she is twelve years my junior and re-reads the Harry Potter and Twilight series like they are going to be pulled from shelves the world over and never read again. I guess she does the same thing with John Green books. However, I wanted to give him a shot. I had started An Abundance of Katherines a few weeks ago and got annoyed by the characters in the first few chapters so I put it down, but then I went to the library and picked up a different title, and was promptly, seriously, blown away.

 

From John Green’s website:

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 he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.

First of all, this is unlike pretty much all of the young adult I’ve read in the last couple of years in that it’s not in any way paranormal – it has no supernatural aspects or horror that I generally go for, but in a way it had its own horror, the horror being that it was so true to what high school experiences really are, it threw me back into thoughts of an uncertain time I call the teen years – scary stuff. 

These characters – Quentin especially – are real. I didn’t feel it right off the bat with the two main characters in An Abundance of Katherines, but I am considering giving that book another chance after reading this. I feel like I have discovered something that I didn’t really knew existed and (sorry Kayla, if you are reading) didn’t think I’d find it in a pile of books my sister cherished – and that is honesty. Beautiful, unabashed honesty of what it is to feel when you don’t really know a thing about love or feelings or relationships because you are just too damn young to have a clue what forever means. 

So Quentin is essentially in love with Margo Roth Spiegelman, but the thing is, he has no idea who she is. He is in love with the idea of her, with the idea that everyone had made in their own heads for the person she was – the paper girl living in the paper towns. She disappears after a wild adventure he never expected and Quentin makes it his mission to find her, along with his two best friends and one of Margo’s, and really you learn that sometimes looking for something is better than what you actually find, such as in this case. 

This is true, this story. We never know anyone completely and we are fools to think we can. Sad, but true.

I’m going to read this book again, and I am going to read – probably – everything else that John Green has written. I am sorry that I had dismissed him for so long and that I’ve been missing such a great writer, because really he writes YA with such maturity, honesty and truth, I think his stories (at least this one) would be great reads no matter how old you are or where you are life. I loved this book. 

And as a bonus? It has one of the best lines I’ve ever read anywhere. Taken out of context:

Chuck Norris’s tears cure cancer, but unfortunately he’s never cried. 

Genius. Truth and genius.

 

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