Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Paper Towns - John Green

After reading Looking for Alaska, I entered the world of John Green's writing. The only pieces of writing that have had me laughing continuously out loud, page after page. You get those times when you think 'Oh that's funny' but don't laugh, or times when you chuckle at a line and then put back on 'Serious Reading Face' but I never really laugh so much, I have to stop reading. Until now.

Not even Looking for Alaska did that to me...this one did however.

Synopsis: 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.

Review: This book is the first time any book has made me laugh out loud continuously - it is that funny. John Green's debut novel, Looking for Alaska made me laugh a couple of times but more of a chuckle. This one had me full blown laughing to myself in my room. This also makes me sound quite sad, but I liked this book. 
It was the character's unique, one-lined expressions that did this to me and it didn't just happen at one specific point, oh no, multiple points. This was my favourite line of the book, I must admit:

' "Just call me if you have any questions but with the Vaseline, you want the one that's bigger than your fist. There's like a Baby Vaseline, and then there's a Mommy Vaseline, and then there's a big fat Daddy of a Vaseline and that's the one you want. But if they don't have that, then get, like, three of the Mommy Vaselines"'

Okay, so not the most hilarious literature you've ever seen probably, but this line had me in stitches. I really liked this book. 

After having my second experience of John Green, I can justify to say that he does what Sarah Dessen does, and what makes people like her. Sarah Dessen uses the same kind of outline plot and the same kind of characters eg. the girl has a problem of some sort. John Green does this but more.
Quentin, the main character, is Miles in Looking for Alaska. Margo is Alaska. There is a main concept to the book that runs throughout. The Great Perhaps and Paper Towns. They are the same kind of book but John Green has made them seem so different. Only if you read others of his do you realise the similarities. This might annoy, frustrate some people. I, however, like this. I like the familiarities and the fact you can guess what is going to happen, yet it still surprises you. 

The characters are what make the book, I think. Quentin is a nerd, a social outcast in the hierarchy of American high school, yet he is popular among his own kind (the nerds) and has a secret crush on Margo, his childhood friend who is at the top of the hierarchy - everyone wants to be her friend. Despite him being the 'weird one' that every school has many of, I would like to be his friend if he were real. 
Then, there is Ben. Oh...Ben. Ben is Q's best friend who wants to climb the social ladder and is a typical, girls-obsessed guy. He is also the funniest of the bunch, behaving like both a teenager with a sense of humour and a little five-year-old handful for Q and Radar to look after like parents.
Radar is Q's other best friend who is obsessed with Omnictionary, a parody of Wikipedia which he updates regularly on the pages to make sure they are up to date. Although, he is occasionally funny due to his sarcasm, he seems the guy with all the answers to me. However, about 80% of the way through the book, I suddenly realised, and I don't mean this in a bad way, he was black. I seriously did not realise this throughout and the book and although it wouldn't worry me if he was black, it surprised me of it not being mentioned before hand, unless done on purpose (or possibly it had said and it hadn't computed in my mind he was). And even when they do mention it, it's as a joke:

'"Oh no, you didn't," Radar says when I show him why we're laughing, "Ben Starling, you better not have bought your token black friend a racist shirt"'

This reminded me of Boys Don't Cry by Malorie Blackman which apparently similar. 

The writing isn't what you call amazing, fluent or poetic but it's simple and understandable, how I like it. It also really does feel like Quentin is talking to you about the whole experience which is nice.
The story is mostly upbeat and nicely paced. There was a lull moment in the middle where it seemed to drag slightly but once they got on the road trip, it quickened up and became as funny as it always had again. The book is spilt into three parts. The Strings, The Grass, The Vessel which after reading the book, I understand these names mostly apart from The Grass. It's nicely done and spilt out evenly. 
The clues to finding Margo conjoined with the narrative and the feeling Q is a friend make the book quite adventurous and made me care about her and want to know what the clues meant that they found. I was finding out with them, what the evidence meant and where Margo was. It was very cleverly put together.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Although, some reviews have said that the ending is bad compared to the rest of the book (which I can see why), it's nice and ends quite ambiguously, a lot like Margo is herself. You can, however, guess what happens afterwards, which I think is always nice as it can be different for everyone. This book is incredibly entertaining and is a great summer read for anyone that has a sense of humour and enjoys these kind of books. I would definitely recommend this one over Looking for Alaska, although both are good in the own right. I am definitely going to look for more John Green books. 

I give a 4.5 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 305
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Challenges: None

My Review of Looking for Alaska


  1. Wow. Fantastic review. I really want to read this book now. I love the characters names in this book. Always a draw card for me :)

  2. Great review! I NEED to read some of his books!

  3. Oh thank you both of you!
    Yeah this is the best John Green book out of the ones I have read so far and after reading some reviews about this one, others would agree it seems.
    Definitely read this book. It's not perfect but then what is?


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