Buckle up for another In My Opinion Review, where I talk about how much I liked Paper Towns by John Greene.
Paper Towns is a YA novel from the point of view of a semi-nerdy, questionably popular High School senior, Quentin Jacobson, who lives in Orlando, Fl. The story is first person and told in a quick writing style that lets readers fly through the pages. It follows Q’s last days in High School as a senior, but most of those days he spends desperately trying to find Margo Roth Speigleman, his next door neighbor and long time crush, who’s left clues for him to follow when she mysteriously disappears after they go on a nightly adventure of debauchery together. I’ve heard good things about John Greene since I was teaching middle schoolers, and the past week I’ve been branching out in my readings to material I don’t usually read. Hence, Paper Towns. Though I tend to stay away from YA lit, this was a great read. John Greene did nothing short of a fantastic job with all aspects of the story.
PLOT: The story starts off with Q and his friends discussing normal High School priorities during their last few weeks as seniors. Q hangs out with band members, though he doesn’t play anything, and is considered to be an enemy to the cool crowd of High School monarchy. But one night, Margo Roth Speigleman; his neighbor, crush, and one of the hottest, most popular girls in school, knocks on his window and invites him to enjoy the best night of his life. After committing no small amount of crimes that night, Margo and Q head home to resume their last few days of school together. But the next day, Margo is missing, not just from school but from home. Her parents are distressed, her friends on edge, and no one has any clue where she’s gone. Except Q. And Q starts to realize that Margo left clues and hints specifically for him to decipher if he ever wants to find her and see her again. The story branches off into a great tale of friendship and understanding who we are by first understanding others. Also has a big nod to Walt Whitman.The themes John uses are easy to grasp, for the YA crowd, and the book even had discussion questions at the end for further analysis. How cool is that?
CHARACTERS: Awesome. Top notch. I felt I was reading about people that may actually exist. It honestly just made me miss the times I hung out with my friends in High School and the banter we had. The humor is constant and authentic, the people are inspired and real. The dialogue, though so so so not grammatically or punctually correct, was more real than any other book I’ve gone through recently. Q, the main character, is also a fantastic representation of what goes through High Schooler’s minds these days. Spot on. The issues he deals with, his friends, his parents, and school drama all accumulate into something very truthful.
SETTING: John has this way of describing something perfectly with both humor and precision. He doesn’t need long descriptive paragraphs to detail a falling apart structure. He uses one well-worded sentence dripping with a High Schooler’s sense of humor and brashness. Most of the story takes place in Florida, which I found sort of cool, in the sprawling metropolis known as Orlando, and they way John writes about the humidity, the people, and the landscape is accurate as heck.
VERDICT: In My Opinion, you should totally read this book. I mean, sure, people have tried to ban it from schools and public libraries since it was published, and sure, it was made into a movie that did pretty bad and messed up the story quite a bit. But the book is worth reading. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll remember all the fun, crazy stuff you did in High School with powerful pangs of nostalgia. Head to your library and check out this book ASAP. In My Opinion.