Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Review: Paper Towns

Paper Towns of John Green
4.25 stars

Reasons for reading: Really enjoyed his Looking for Alaska; last book for the YA Challenge

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."

First line: "The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle."

My thoughts: The way John Green writes is just so cool. I love his dialogue, his characters, and his humour. Q's interactions with his buddies Radar (who edits the "Omnictionary" website compulsively) and Ben (who tends to speak in capital letters and whose conviction that he is God's gifts to the "honeybunnies" of the world has yet to be proven) are hilarious. The discussions of Radar's parents' "world's largest collection of black Santas" alone is worth the price of admission.

The all-nighter at the beginning of the book is a great look at Margo's bold outlook on life and Q's timid (but trying to be braver) one. It's quite light-hearted, but there are some really dark times after she goes missing (and, I have to say, Q's search took a bit longer than I'd have liked). At one point I thought it was going to be like Looking for Alaska - boy in unrequited love with a charismatic but suicidal girl. But I should've trusted Green, he doesn't write the same book twice.

After the dark middle, the book ends with another light-hearted all-nighter, this time a road trip with Q, his buddies, and their girlfriends to find Margo. The peeing in bottles, the road-trip food, the camaraderie - it's excellent.

There's even a cool educational, well-researched element - did you know there's actually such a thing as a paper town? You'll find out all about them in this book.

At the heart of the book are questions of how well we really know people and ourselves. Are we all connected? Do we only see parts of people? How well do we know, and even really like, our best friends? Do we need to leave what we're familiar with to grow or can we stay where our roots are?

The verdict: Another winner from Green. It's no wonder he's a Printz Award winner.

Also reviewed at Care's Online Book Club.

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