Book Review: Paper Towns


ashley | The Fault In Our Stars made John Green a household name, but he’s been around for far longer than a lot of people are aware, with at least five other novels under his belt. Sadly, I am one of those people who just discovered him recently and in trying to redeem that fact, I’ve been desperately trying to get through his catalog before the next movie, based on his book Paper Towns, comes out.

I know all too well what it’s like living in a paper town and I felt an immediate kinship with Margo. She seems a little mysterious and misunderstood and definitely a little dramatic in her eleven step vengeance plan against her cheating boyfriend and best friend, but she really spoke to me. Her underlying sadness and longing for something more, for some kind of meaning, it reminded me very much of myself at that age.

Green usually seems to talk about dark subjects in a light hearted manner, but Paper Towns is pretty dark. There is humour and it’s all made into a game, but it’s definitely not as lighthearted as I’ve come to expect. There’s a lot of talk about emptiness and loneliness, escaping to somewhere better, some death. It’s heavy topics, but again, it lends well to the age and their point in life, when things start to become real and you realize that bubble you’ve been comfortably lounging in is about to burst.

I love the relationships between everyone in this book. The friendships are really strong and loyal, but admittedly, many of the characters don’t truly know their friends. Not on any deeper level than the superficial friendships formed in high school. And I liked the concept of each different friend having their own version of Margo (and each other for that matter), their own perspective of who she is, or who she was when she was with them. It’s just really realistic.

The ridiculous conversations between them all seems over the top, but they, too, are realistic. It was all kind of nostalgic for me. Watching these characters realize all this and start to grow into their own, to grow apart and discover their life-long friends for the first time is interesting to watch from the outside. It’s done quite well, a great example of coming of age.

And what coming of age story is complete without an epic road trip? Things end with an increasingly chaotic road trip crammed into the last little bit of the book, described hour by hour, a suspenseful climax filled with anticipation and anxiety. I actually really loved the ending of this. It was a perfect way to kind of sum up those last blow-out days of high school before leaving it all behind and taking that next, scary step towards growing up.


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September 22, 2009