Review: Paper Towns

As the title of my blog is Shadow People in Paper Towns, I believe it would be remiss of me not to begin the reviewing portion of this blog with a review of John Green’s Paper Towns.  So, here we go!

Paper Towns Cover (USA)

Paper Towns Covers (USA)

Paper Towns, by John Green, is a YA novel that focuses on the life and misadventures of Quentin “Q” Jacobson and his quest to find the mysterious Margo Roth-Spiegleman.  What, however, must be understood when reading this book is that “finding” Margo is more than just a (not-so) simple quest to locate where she is in space-time, but is instead a quest to find out who Margo really is.

From the very get-go Green manages to generate the necessary tension to drive the story forward and engross the reader.  The book will have you constantly asking questions that you must know the answer to: Who’s the man in the park?  Why is Margo showing up and whisking Q away to go on a midnight adventure?  Where’s Margo?  Is she dead?  And, most importantly, why does someone need to own so many black Santas!

Green’s youthful and intelligent tone sets the scene, engages the audience and lets them know exactly the kind of characters that are going to be in this text.  It’s obvious that Green is at home in the first-person perspective, and returning to it for this novel really works to his advantage.  There are a few awkward shifts from past to present tense, but besides these isolated incidents, Green manages to capture the teenage voice exceptionally well, transitioning seamlessly from quirky and witty to contemplative and serious when appropriate.

Green’s ability to create believable teenage characters is also part of the appeal of Paper Towns.  The characters, from the nerdy and awkward Ben to the caring cheerleader Lacey, are complex and multi-layered, and engage in realistic contemporary dialogue.

On top of this, the first-person perspective works well in demonstrating the limitations of human perception.  While Q is not an unreliable narrator, he certainly has his own world-view and this works against him in his search for Margo.  He is only able to see the person he thinks Margo is, instead of the person who she actually is, and before Q can locate her, he must first “find” her.  This ties in to the overall recurring theme of the novel, which is the necessity of imagining the other with greater complexity.  While such an intricate and deep theme might have a tendency to weigh down a text and make it come across as preachy, the way the novel addresses the central theme through the challenges of its characters means that while the book occasionally walks on a delicate line, it certainly isn’t anvilicious.

Overall, Paper Towns is a well-written, entertaining and thought-provoking novel.  On a personal note, I like this book so much that I’ve bought three copies (one for myself and twice for friends).  Its themes are universal, its characters are fun to spend time with, and it is written such a way that it reads very easily.  I highly recommend it.

As the title of my blog is Shadow People in Paper Towns, I believe it would be remiss of me not to begin the reviewing portion of this blog with a review of John Green’s Paper Towns. So, here we go!

Paper Towns, by John Green, is a YA novel that focuses on the life and misadventures of Quentin “Q” Jacobson and his quest to find the mysterious Margo Roth-Spiegleman. What, however, must be understood when reading this book is that “finding” Margo is more than just a (not-so) simple quest to locate where she is in space-time, but is instead a quest to find out who Margo really is.

From the very get-go Green manages to generate the necessary tension to drive the story forward and engross the reader. The book will have you constantly asking questions that you must know the answer to: Who’s the man in the park? Why is Margo showing up and whisking Q away to go on a midnight adventure? Where’s Margo? Is she dead? And, most importantly, why does someone need to own so many black Santas!

Green’s youthful and intelligent tone sets the scene, engages the audience and lets them know exactly the kind of characters that are going to be in this text. It’s obvious that Green is at home in the first-person perspective, and returning to it for this novel really works to his advantage. There are a few awkward shifts from past to present tense, but besides these isolated incidents, Green manages to capture the teenage voice exceptionally well, transitioning seamlessly from quirky and witty to contemplative and serious when appropriate.

Green’s ability to create believable teenage characters is also part of the appeal of Paper Towns. The characters, from the nerdy and awkward Ben to the caring cheerleader Lacey, are complex and multi-layered, and engage in realistic contemporary dialogue.

On top of this, the first-person perspective works well in demonstrating the limitations of human perception. While Q is not an unreliable narrator, he certainly has his own world-view and this works against him in his search for Margo. He is only able to see the person he thinks Margo is, instead of the person who she actually is, and before Q can locate her, he must first “find” her. This ties in to the overall recurring theme of the novel, which is the necessity of imagining the other with greater complexity. While such an intricate and deep theme might have a tendency to weigh down a text and make it come across as preachy, the way the novel addresses the central theme through the challenges of its characters means that while the book occasionally walks on a delicate line, it certainly isn’t anvilicious.

Overall, Paper Towns is a well-written, entertaining and thought-provoking novel. On a personal note, I like this book so much that I’ve bought three copies (one for myself and twice for friends). Its themes are universal, its characters are fun to spend time with, and it is written such a way that it reads very easily. I highly recommend it.

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~ by ahuttoftea on June 8, 2009.

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