Friday, September 27, 2013

Review: Paper Towns - John Green

Paper Towns
John Green
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Glorious
On Goodreads

After seeing that Marlon reviewed An Abundance of Katherines, I figured I absolutely had to review my favorite John Green book of all time: Paper Towns. There are so many great things about this book, so let's not waste any more time before delving into why you should be reading this book right now.

One of the main reasons I love this book oh so much is the characters. Not because the characters are perfect and smart and good at everything, but because they're not. John Green did a very good job of creating flawed characters, and not only were they more relatable to than many "my-life-is-perfect-except-for-this-one-dilemma-I-have-that-will-be-resolved-by-the-end-of-this-book" characters that are common in YA literature. For example, there is Margo Roth Spiegelman. Oh, Margo, I have so much to say about you. Margo Roth Spiegelman is an enigma. Our protagonist, Quentin, does not quite understand her, with her strange quirks like being "a big believer in random capitalization [because] the rules of capitalization are so unfair to words in the middle" or summoning him in the middle of the night to go on some crazy adventure. Margo is very disenchanted with the world, and specifically the area, she lives in. She craves something more, something that will make her feel whole on the inside. And even though during the course of this novel, she tries to achieve her "something more," I think Margo will always be running. She thinks leaving her "paper town" will change things, but as a person, she'll never be able to stay grounded where she is. She needs the "getting away" part more than she needs a place to go. And I love that about her, as a character, because a lot of people feel trapped where they are in life and Margo exemplifies those feelings very well. Quentin is enamored with Margo and one of his biggest flaws is seeing her as something she isn't. He tries to romanticize her and never realizes how misguided his intentions are. These two characters are very different and I think the best incident illustrating this happens when they are both very little (about 9 years old) and happen upon a man who has killed himself in the park they went to go play at one day.
"I took two small steps backwards. I remember thinking that if I made any sudden movements, he might wake up and attack me. Maybe he was a zombie. I knew zombies weren't real, but he sure looked like a potential zombie.
As I took those two steps back, Margo took two equally small and quiet steps forward. 'His eyes are open,' she said.
'Wegottagohome,' I said.
'I thought you closed your eyes when you died,' she said.
She took another step. She was close enough now to reach out and touch his foot."
I think this scene shows just how different the two are. Quentin wants to leave and forget it happened. Margo is intrigued and wants to know why it happened and who he was and all these details about this man she doesn't know.
Other than these two lovely human beings, I also really loved reading about Quentin's friends, Ben and Radar. They both added so much to this novel. They served to often bring Quentin down to earth, they were very supportive friends but harsh when they needed to be, and they were two hilarious individuals. I loved them so much. One of my favorite parts was when Radar said "The last time I was this scared, I actually had to face a Dark Lord in order to make the world safe for wizards." This made them seem more realistic as characters, because my friends and I make references to things like books and movies all the time, so it really helped set the dynamic between the friends.

Now that I'm done with my tangent about the characters, I just want to mention John Green's writing style, which I love with all my heart. I think the way he phrases things is so eloquent and flows so well that I often have to stop reading just to take in the words themselves. However, he does this in such a way that it doesn't sound odd coming from the mouth (mind?) of a teenage boy, because he mixes in Quentin's voice so well it just seems natural. He has some wonderful gems in his writing, like my personal favorites:
"Maybe all the strings inside of him broke."
"The town was paper, but the memories were not."
Ugh, I just love those lines so much, and everything they represent. They might have more effect on someone who has read the book than someone who hasn't, but you're all smart readers, and it's very easy to understand what is meant just by reading the quotes themselves.

Besides the pretty words and fluid writing, John Green also has some hilarious character quotes. The one that comes to mind first is "IT'S NOT MY FAULT THAT MY PARENTS OWN THE WORLD'S LARGEST COLLECTION OF BLACK SANTAS," spoken by the one and only Radar. If you want context for than one, you're gonna have to read it yourself.

So basically, this book is wonderful, and you should read it, and it will definitely be worth your time, and it's a pretty short read, and you will not be disappointed.

- Noor

Have you ever wanted to run away from where you live?
Let us know in the comments!

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