Book Review — Paper Towns by John Green

Thank you Bloomsbury India for sending me a copy of this book for review 🙂 

Paper Towns starts off as your typical high school story, complete with parties and prom, dating troubles and unrequited love. Quentin Jacobsen has always loved Margo Roth Spiegelman, his childhood friend who grew distant after high school politics got in the way. And so when she appears out of nowhere at Quentin’s window, demanding that he help her carry out an all night revenge plan, he complies. Unfortunately for Quentin, he gets his hopes up, beginning to wonder if they will finally become the friends they were meant to be. However, the next day presents a varied truth. Margo has not only gone missing, but she’s left behind clues with which to be found. As Quentin and his friends embark on a speedy road trip, they begin to wonder if they had ever really known Margo at all.

Image courtesy – Goodreads.

Having read a book by John Green before, I was certain I would enjoy this one. But I hadn’t expected to absolutely love it. Not even three-fourth into it, did I think it would be a book worth reading again. But here’s where John Green’s writing bolsters the story. The last few chapters become so much more than a high school story. The philosophy behind it all is sure to reach out to anyone, as we are all merely trying to find our place in this world. Interspersed with several Whitman quotes and references to other literary figures’ works (which I loved reading), Paper Towns shows us that paper (two dimensional) people and paper places have a life of their own. The moment something is put down on paper it is infused with some of the creator’s soul. The idea behind the paper towns reminded me of Wislawa Szymborska’s poem, The Joy of Writing – “Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?” In keeping with this idea, Margo becomes one with her writing. Her escapades enact her, rather than the other way around.

For a majority of time, I disliked the character of Margo Spiegelman. She appeared to be insensitive to Quentin’s feelings, was rather self centered and attention seeking. And throughout their road trip, I kept wondering why they didn’t turn around. Why were all these people incessantly looking for a person who didn’t want to be found? But you come to understand, as did Quentin, Margo’s perspective towards the end. While it isn’t ideal, it is understandable. While road trips are all fun and games, it does test your strengths. This scavenger hunt of sorts definitely increased the appeal of road trips for me. Quentin, Ben and Radar’s friendship was one of the highlights of the book. They are the kind of friends who would set aside even the most important of matters when the other needs them. I wished Margo could have better understood Lacey. They could have been fast friends too, after everything Lacey did for her. There’s enough humor in the book to crack you up occasionally. It was a splendid story, one that I will read again. I recommend it to all those who haven’t read it yet.

Ratings – 5 stars on 5.

Meera

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