You know what, John Green? I’m glad this is the last book of yours I’ll read for a while. However, that is only because you just had one published and now I’ve read all the rest. In fact, I’ve read them all in the past 363 days, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, I guess I should go ahead and review this one.
Paper Towns is a story about Margo Roth Spiegelman — all 6 syllables. Except it’s not. It’s a story about Quentin Jacobsen — just Q. Except it’s not. It’s a story about the vapidity of our lives and the 2-dimensional paperness we all seem to have, and shucking that attitude and finding the 3-dimensional qualities we’re looking for.
Except it’s not.
It’s all these things, and somehow more. It’s about choosing the correct metaphor for our lives and the meaning that has for us. It’s about how stories are both mirrors and windows (I can’t help but quote Shakespeare here: “No, Cassius; for the eye sees not itself, But by reflection, by some other things.” — Brutus, from Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2). It’s about so much. Yet with what the world might deem so little: the drama of some seniors in high school. So much importance in the less than a month timespan of this novel.
Speaking of which, I should address the plot! Q is kind of your typical John Green male protagonist: smart, sort of nerdy, and not really sure of himself. Actually, no, that’s Ben in this book. Q is sure of himself: he’s sure that he’s nothing special. Margo Roth Spiegelman is, quite literally, the girl next door. Q is convinced she’s perfect and too good for him, when in reality, she’s not. She’s convinced that she needs to get out of town (Orlando) and find herself.
The Big Event: Margo’s boyfriend, Jason (Jase) cheats on her, so she decides to get even. She wakes Q up in the middle of the night (even though they haven’t really spoken in years) to tear about town, seeking — and finding — revenge. They reconnect. They have a good time. Then, the next day, Margo’s gone.
This isn’t anything new; she’s left before. She’s also left clues before. This time, she leaves clues for Q. So he and his 2 best friends set out to follow the clues, and find — perhaps save — Margo Roth Spiegelman. We’re not sure if Margo’s alive or dead for most of the novel, and neither is Q.
I find it really interesting that we hear so much about Margo Roth Spiegelman, yet she’s not in most of the book. We hear about her through Q. And what we learn about her, we really learn about him. And what we learn about him, perhaps we learn about ourselves.
Paper Towns is not without the standard John Green wit and sarcasm. That’s sort of his trademark. And it’s wonderful.