Sunday, October 21, 2012

Paper Towns by John Green - Book Review

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

Let me start by saying I am a huge John Green fan.  He is a wonderful author, and a hilariously nerdy person.  He has a permanent place in my list of favorite authors.

Q has lived next door to Margo Roth Spiegelmen since they were childhood friends.  Though their friendship faded, his love for the girl he sees when he looks at her never has.  When she leaves town after one unexpected, adrenaline-fueled night of pranks involving him, he becomes completely obsessed with finding her and bringing her back.  A series of clues seemingly left for him to be able to find her certainly doesn't help.  He enlists his friends, Ben and Radar, and later one of Margo's friends, and embarks on a couple hundred pages' worth of working out the clues to find the girl he beigns to realize he never really knew at all.

This is the third novel I've read from this YA literary genius.  It features his trademarks of fantastic dialogue and unabashed nerd-ism (my awesome new word).  There are some awesomely hilarious scenes, most especially one featuring a beer-sword and the misuse of superglue, and there are some very real characters in this novel.

Just not any new ones.

While reading, I was simply unable to ignore the similarities between Paper Towns' main characters and Looking For Akaska's.  Margo could be Alaska thrown into a different setting.  Q and Pudge could trade skin and, aside from a few minor personality quirks, none would be the wiser.  Even their group of friends are similar.  Both books also feature the unattainable rebel girl distorted through the eyes of a teenage boy who sees her how he wants her to be, not how she is.

That doesn't make Paper Towns bad.  If you haven't read Looking For Alaska and thus can't compare the two, you'll probably love this YA contemporary.  It is such a different reading experience in the genre, seeing the love and idolization through a teenage boy's eyes, and not a girl's.  The characters are fun, realistically flawed and lovable.  If the story begins to lag a bit toward the middle, well, it picks up at the end and makes up for it.

But the thing is, I have read Looking For Alaska.  And I was simply unable to enjoy Paper Towns as much because of it.

I wanted to love this book, but ended up merely liking it.

Paper Towns by John Green - 3 out of 5 stars.

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