Review: Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns by John Green
Published: September 22nd 2009 by Speak
Pages: 305

Who is the real Margo?

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs 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 the girl he thought he knew...

"Margo always loved mysteries. And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one."

Very slight spoilers for Paper Towns, so be warned.

Actual rating: 1.5 stars

Paper Towns has to be the kind of book that I was pressured into by my whole environment. The film is coming out in a year, it has been a hyped book ever since John Green started getting popular among us teenage girls, and everyone I knew had already read it. It was eventually that last reason which made me eventually want to read it. Having finally read the book, I won't say I'm disappointed. I didn't have high standards in the first place. My prejudice and the average rating on Goodreads told me: John Green's other works are nothing compared to the fabulous The Fault in Our Stars. Still, the feeling of having read one of the most overhyped books of all time doesn't exactly feel good.

In other words, I didn't think Paper Towns reached my expectations. I did not know what to expect in the first place. As soon as I progressed with the novel, something became very clear for me. Margo isn't the main character and, after all, didn't appear for the most part of the book, and yet the author would manage just fine to still make the book centered around her. How, you might ask? By using a boy named Quentin Jacobsen. One of the weakest characters I have known. He was so easy for Margo to manipulate and use, it's hardly believable. His crush for this girl was not just a simple crush, it came across to me as an obsession. He would do everything she wanted him to do and believed all her small-talk. I didn't flip a page when I was irritated by Quentin's character. He does so much for her and is during the book constantly trying to understand the messages she left him in order to find her, and in the end it all feels like so much wasted time. It felt like the book itself was wasted time to read, honestly. In my opinion, that's just sad.

When I first started reading the book, I had this feeling I was going to have a love-hate relationship with Margo. Her attitude is full of freedom and craziness, something I really liked at first. After a while the results of her actions became clear and the once love-hate relationship I had with this girl quickly turned into nothing but hate. I'm sorry for any possible cursing, but in my opinion Margo is such a self-centered cruel bitch it makes me want to crawl my eyes out. She is the stereotype of a poplar girl who wants to be unique and strange but wants everyone to like her. She is so selfish and most of all: she doesn't care about anyone but herself. She doesn't even know what effect she and her actions can have on other people. From what I've read she's indeed a mystery, but one I would rather leave alone.

The other characters were in a way very stereotypical, but much more likeable than Margo or Quentin. Ben, Lacey and Radar all were fun to read about, just because their characters felt much more real to me. For instance, Ben's situation of needing to pee all the time near the end of the book, or Radar's wisdom and strength to stand up to Quentin and confront him with his obsession with Margo. Yet even when I did like some of the side characters, it does not mean I had a real connection with any of them, which truly is disappointing.

If I ever had to choose a genre for Paper Towns, it would have to be a wannabe mystery/coming of age, because it was. The clues Margo leaves for Q were supposed to give me feeling of suspense, something which would make me fly through this book, but nothing like that happened. There was so little plot to tell, Green still wrote a book consisting of three hundred pages, and I'm actually astonished. Out of all those pages, there was only five percent or so I actually liked: the prom after-party. Everyone was drunk, and we all know when that happened, good things were about to go down. I cracked up with Ben's attitude combined with alcohol, and Q's deep conversation in the bathroom. After that everything was such a bore. Especially the road trip itself. In a way the author described the most boring things ever, I started wondering if it was to fill up the pages. Green himself also seemed to know very well that the event near the end was very unrealistic, yet he went through with it. I keep myself asking: how was it possible they could survive something like that without any scratches? It definitely seemed like either their guardian angels, or just Ben himself, did a pretty good job.

To summarize this small rent, I wouldn't suggest you read Paper Towns. If you loved Looking for Alaska, The Fault in Our Stars or any other John Green book, that's good for you. I'm not judging. But to avoid possible stereotypical characters, serious-lacking mystery and a plot that headed in no specific direction, skip this one.

Aurélie Cremers is an eighteen-year-old living in Belgium. As an active member on Goodreads, Edelweiss and Amazon, she's always spreading her reviews to express her opinion and influences her followers to read the books she fairly enjoyed. When she's not writing, you can find her at her local bookstore or in a classroom. With her blog, "Exploring Pages", Aurélie hopes to gain a larger public in the near future and to continue that what she'll always love doing: writing.

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