Jul 8, 2010

Paper Towns by John Green

Margo Roth Spiegelman has always been an unknown quantity ever since she was a child. Her quirky behavior and reclusive, yet outlandish, actions have always made her quite a character to behold. Quentin Jacobsen has lived next door to her all their lives and as children they were quite close. As they grew up though, they grew apart with Quentin focusing on his studies and Margo doing whatever she wanted to do.

One night, a few days before graduation, Margo shows up at Quentin's window and begs him to come on a night of revengeful adventure with her. Reluctantly he agrees, mostly because he's intrigued. They spend all night pulling pranks and getting back at people who made Margo's "hit list." In the morning, Quentin realizes the feelings he had for her at a younger child have now matured and he is enamored. To his dismay, and worry, it turns out the next morning that Margo has disappeared.

Quentin sets out on a journey to find the girl he loves with a rag tag team of geeks and clues that she seems to have left specifically for him.

After the first read, I despised this book. There is such a focus on the poem "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman, which Margo used as a clue, that I felt like I was back in college dissecting works of literature for every minute detail.

Then I went back and read it again and then one more time. And the more I read it the more I like it. I think I was so focused the first time on figuring out what happened to Margo, that I ignored the more nuanced action. There was so much more going on with the characters that I overlooked while analyzing the poem and other clues. I realized I was acting almost exactly like Quentin in the book. He was so obsessed with piecing the puzzle together, that he missed the whole point of the exercise. Talk about ingenious!

I really enjoyed watching the characters grow and learn to appreciate everything around them. Margo was definitely a "carpe diem" kind of gal and I found that both refreshing and frustrating. She was very "in your face" about her actions, while sometimes I questioned her motives. Eventually her reasoning was revealed and that made it much easier to handle on a re-read. Quentin on the other hand went the other way. He went from being the geeky, quiet guy to a parent-ignoring, blowing-off-of-graduation kind of guy. Margo really managed to shake his core.

Truly, I am on-board now with those who says this is a great book. If you haven't already, give this book a chance. I would consider myself proof that it's worth it.


Mary Brebner said...

I LOVED this book. It was my first John Green book and now I've read all his books (okay, so the guy main characters are all kind of the same but still...great writer).

Cute blog--I'm a new follower! If you feel like it, come and visit me:

Looking forward to future posts :)

Elizabeth Briggs said...

I love this book!