Thursday, June 18, 2015

Review: Paper Towns by John Green

Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published Date: 1 October 2008
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

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.
(summary from Goodreads)

Paper Towns is an insightful and entertaining enough read, but it just didn't resonate with me. 

This is my third novel John Green novel, and the conclusion I've come to is that while I do like his books and admire his writing, something holds me back from loving them. I simply never feel entirely connected to the story and characters. Part of my problem with Paper Towns is that I do feel it's a lot like Looking For Alaska. That's apparent from very early on. And I simply liked Looking for Alaska better. Green has these moments that always have me going YES. It's either a gorgeous sentence that I just want to quote all the time or have on a poster to read every day, or it's a moment of insight that he gets exactly right. This is what I enjoy about Green's works, and Paper Towns has them. But the thing is, they're few. The rest of the time, while I think his writing is smart, I also feel it's borderline pretentious. The things his characters think and say are clever, sure, but they never feel real to me. Q, Margo, Ben, Radar - they're unlike any teenagers I've ever known, and for that reason, I don't relate to them and there's a disconnect between me and the story. Even the adults of Paper Towns are a little too out there.

I liked Q, for the most part. I'd have probably liked him more if he wasn't ridiculously obsessed with a girl he barely knows. I enjoyed his journey and felt for him, but calling Margo his 'miracle' was seriously pushing it. Probably best not to get me started on Margo! To put it lightly, she's selfish and immature. She almost ruined Paper Towns entirely for me, because that ending. Urgh. It's again a case of feeling that it's insightful and smart, but mostly frustrating because it just seems so unreal. What I did enjoy was the friendship between Q, Ben and Radar. They were funny, and I liked their pettiness and honesty. Friends are the people that get you and get to you the most, and that's something that shines throughout Paper Towns

Paper Towns is a good contemporary read. While I couldn't quite connect with the story, it's an easy one-sitting read and the relationships and wanting to see how it ends keeps it moving.



  1. Great review. I’ve read all of John Green’s books. I liked TFIOS and Looking for Alaska much better than Paper Towns. I am excited for the movie, though.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. Thanks, AJ. I liked TFIOS about the same as Paper Towns. I'm still eager to see the movie too. I like Nat Wolff and so I want to see him as Q. :-)