Rating: 5 OWLS
It is no secret to those who know me that John Green is one of my favorite authors ever. I've re-read Paper Towns a couple of times and I must say that this book gets better each time.
If you are familiar with John Green, you know that his books are full of symbolism, deep understanding of human perception, literary references, very important life lessons, and lots of humor. While Paper Towns is considered to be a YA novel, I think that people of all ages can learn a lot from the story.
The book is divided into three sections. In the first section we meet Quentin, who goes by Q, a nerdy high school senior, his friends: Ben and Radar, and his life-long crush Margo Roth Spielgelman. Margo is one of the most popular girls in school, she is very adventurous and unconventional. She also happens to live next door to Q. One night she sneaks into his room and convinces him to accompany her on a revenge exploit against some of her friends who have wronged her. The night is filled with adventure and some illegal acts, making this section extremely fast paced and exciting. In this part we also get a glimpse of the depth of the feelings Q has for Margo and we get to see the parts of the real Margo underneath the persona she portrays. This night leaves Q feeling that maybe a new page was turned and that he and Margo really do have something special. But the next day he discovers that Margo has vanished. This is not the first time she has run away, so at first he thinks nothing of it; until he discovers new clues that Margo left for him.
In the second section, Q is following all the clues that Margo left for him and we get a better understanding of both of them, but particularly Margo. This section also develops Ben and Radar who are mentioned in the first part but not explored. I absolutely adored both of them. The bond of friendship between the three seniors is developed and tested over and over as the clues become harder and Q becomes more and more obsessed with finding Margo. Radar and Ben offer a very much needed comedic relief in the most intense situations; I often found myself laughing out loud when Radar and Ben were around. One of my favorite things about this section was the exploration of “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman. There were so many angles of this poem discussed that I finally feel like I fully grasped the message of the poem. I tend to struggle when reading poetry, but John Green managed to offer a lot of insight into Whitman’s message. This section is slower paced than the first, but still offers a lot of intense moments as Q not only learns more about Margo, but also about himself.
The third section I won’t discuss much because it is very short and it offers the resolution to the book. I will just say that I thought it has a very satisfying ending without being predictable or conventional.
To sum it all up: I loved this book; the story was very well written and unique. I believe this book will leave readers pondering different ideas that were presented and that there are many valuable lessons to be learned from this book. I am super excited about the movie adaptation that will be released this summer. So go forth and read this amazing book before hitting the theater!