by John Green
Genre: Young Adult
Published: 9/22/09 by Penguin Young Readers
4 out of 5 Stars
It's been at least five years since I first read Paper Towns, and I decided to re-read it before the movie is released this weekend. Paper Towns was the first John Green novel that I ever read, and I immediately became a fan of John Green's writing. Green has a distinct formula and writing style, and I've found that people seem to either love it or hate it. I love it. I enjoyed Paper Towns quite a bit (both times I read it), although it still falls third on my list of favorite John Green novels (after The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska).
Paper Towns tells the story of Q, a teen boy who has long been infatuated with his neighbor, the infamous Margo Roth Spiegelman. One night, Margo enlists Q's help in conducting an adventurous night of pranks and payback. The next day, Margo disappears, leaving a trail of clues for Q to follow to find her, that is, if she wants to be found.
Even though John Green's teen characters talk with more wit and sophistication than any teen that I know, I still find his characters to be refreshing and believable. While they are teens who make mistakes and bad choices at times, and teen boys who are full of dirty trash talk, they are also thinkers who seek answers to life's biggest questions. I think John Green writes these teenagers better than most young adult authors. His characters are authentic and thoughtful, fun and good natured, like teens I would have wanted to hang out with in high school, or like teens I will want my kids to hang out with when they get older. Green has a great talent for combining witty writing with thoughtful insight, and that formula works great throughout Paper Towns. It will make you smile and laugh, but it will also make you think.
Paper Towns is definitely not an original novel; it shares many striking similarities in both plot and style with Green's first two novels: Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines. But who cares? It is fun to read. The road trip at the end of Paper Towns was probably one of my favorite parts. While reading it the second time, I kept thinking, how fun and crazy would that have been to go on a sporadic 20 hour road trip with my high school friends? (I never would have done it, but still it's a fun thought!)