Review: Paper Towns by John Green


Paper Towns by John Green
Contemporary, Road Trip, Mystery
Published by: Bloomsbury
Pages: 305
Format: Paperback: (I own two!)
Rating: ★★★★

I’ve been looking at my shelf of favourite books lately and thought, wait a second, some of these books I’ve only read once! This was the case with Paper Towns. But, an important factor of defining a favourite book is whether it will stand the test of time. Would you want to read it, again and again? Well, I found out…P  L  O  T
Q loves Margo. Margo is a manic pixie dream girl who thinks she’s doing Q a favour by hanging out with him and will change him into some kind of brave warrior prince. Q is a nerd, with geeky friends who gets all too involved in trying to find Margo that he willingly skips his high school prom and graduation in search of her. If it sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is.

C  H  A  R  A  C  T  E  R  S
There are a lot of things to love about Paper Towns. Namely, Lacey Pemberton. I think Lacey is a brilliant character. She’s popular, but no one’s bothered to get to know her beyond her surface level beauty. Her relationship with Ben helps everyone to realise she’s not just a pretty girl. She’s smart and responsible and an all-around great person.

Radar is probably my favourite of Q’s buddies. He’s witty and dedicated, and I think he really controls the situation, not letting Q’s obsession with Margo get too out of hand.

As for Q, he’s pretty much a stock John Green character. Would I notice if he was swapped with Myles from Looking for Alaska? Not really. I mean, he’s funny. But, so is everyone in this novel, in a way you can’t imagine being true to life. The way these teenagers deliver metaphors and punch lines is so immediate and well crafted, it would take at least two hours of scripting before I could be half as funny on the spot. I guess that’s another trope of John Green’s characters: they’re all astonishingly intelligent. Unrealistically so.

Margo isn’t in the book a lot. Unsurprisingly. But, I have to agree with Lacey’s reaction at the end of the book.

R  O  M  A  N  C  E
Toxic and unhealthy.

M  E  T  A  P  H  O  R  S
The book is split into three parts. My favourite is the final section: The Vessel, when four friends get in a minivan and drive for 21 hours to New York. The sense of camaraderie was at it’s height and the build up of events was the best thing ever. I felt as infinite as Q when reading it.

But, the parts are all significant because they signify a different way of viewing other people. I think Paper Towns, though the characters may be slightly two-dimensional, raises a lot of interesting questions about how we perceive ourselves compared to how other people perceive us. There’s depth behind the wit and intent behind the writing. I think that’s what makes this book so successful. You come away from it reevaluating your perspective on people.

And, here we see the root of John Green’s obsession with the metaphor.

V  E  R  D  I  C  T
Although I gave Paper Towns 5 stars when I first read it, on the re-read, it gets 4 stars. Not a huge jump down, but it took me a while to get into the speech style and realise that it might be hyperbolised and unnatural, but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable to read. The friendship is strong, the mystery is intriguing and overall, Paper Towns is tons better than The Fault in Our Stars. That’s right, I said it.


5 thoughts on “Review: Paper Towns by John Green

  1. Ah I agree with you a lot that Paper Towns is better than The Fault in Our Stars! Paper Towns is my favourite John Green novel- it’s also the very first Green novel I read, and nothing has compared to it. There is just something about this book that is really well done, and makes me fall in love with it. I also agree his characters are uncharacteristically to intelligent and sophisticated, but I think that’s just what you get with John Green. I would really love Green to write a novel with a character who doesn’t talk/act perfect!

    1. We can only hope for his next book! But, you’re right, it’s just become a defining feature of his writing, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing but something that does stand out compared to other YA novels. I’m pleased we feel the same way 🙂

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