Sunday, November 16, 2008

Review: Paper Towns

Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Genre: YA
Published: 2008
Pages: 305
Rating: 9 / 10
Challenges: N/A
Awards: none (yet!) but it made the New York Times Bestseller List and is being optioned for a movie (via bookshelves of doom)

Quentin Jaconsen 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 days 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.

My Review: This was my first John Green book, and I have to say it definitely won't be my last. I actually was familiar with John through his Brotherhood 2.0 project, but I didn't realize it until reading the author blurb at the back of Paper Towns. The project was interesting, but I would totally recommend checking out his blog, which is full of wonderfulness like his "feud" with Maureen Johnson and a discussion of whether or not Margo Roth Spiegelman is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

But back to the novel. If you have been anywhere near a bookblog in the past few months, chances are you've heard of Paper Towns. You've probably read rave reviews, telling you how great it is. They're all true! This book is fantastic. From the synopsis and all the other reviews I'd read, I expected it to be similar to As Simple As Snow (which I also loved), and it is, a little. But it's also very, very different. One of my favorite things about Paper Towns is the relationship between Q and his best friends, Radar and Ben. Margo's an important part of the story, sure, but to me the relationship between these three guys is what makes the book great.

First up, Q. I think this passage helps describe him:
Both my parents are therapists, which means that I am really goddamned well adjusted. So when I woke up [after finding a dead body with Margo], I had a long conversation with my mom about the cycle of life, and how death is a part of life, but not a part of life I needed to be particularly concerned with at the age of nine, and I felt better. Honestly, I never worried about it much. Which is saying something, because I can do some worrying.
Q is neurotic. It's nice when Margo comes along to help break him out of his shell and get him to actually take some risks (hence, the MPDG comparisons). Q's two best friends are Radar (nicknamed for the M*A*S*H character he resembled pre-puberty) and Ben (who is slightly obnoxious, but very awesome). Radar is obsessed with Omnictionary, which is a non-copyrighted version of Wikipedia, and spends his free time editing it. Also, his parents have the world's largest collection of Black Santas. Like Q, that made me smile every time it was mentioned. Ben is obsessed with "honeybunnies" and spends his free time trying to get laid. He referred to girls as "honeybunnies" enough times in the first 20 pages that I really wanted to slap him. Mercifully, Q felt the same way:
I'd tried telling Ben that "honeybunny" sounded more sexist and lame than retro-cool, but he refused to abandon the practice. He called his own mother a honneybunny. There was no fixing him.
After that, it didn't bother me as much. Besides, Ben quickly became one of my favorite characters. Q and Radar are the straight men to his zany comic sidekick.

Ben playing video games:
"Come here you little bastard," Ben said, the controller twisting in his hand. "Daddy's gonna put you on a sailboat across the River Styx."
"Did you just use Greek mythology to trash talk?" I asked.
Radar laughed. Ben started pummeling buttons, shouting, "Eat it, goblin! Eat it like Zeus ate Metis!"
Ben drunk at a party thrown by one of his new girlfriend's "friends":
So Lacey and I followed Ben upstairs, where he opened the door to Becca's room and said, "Your party kicks so much ass! Even though you suck so much! It's like instead of blood, your heart pumps liquid suck! But thanks for the beer!" Becca was alone, lying on top of her covers, staring at the ceiling. She didn't even glance at him. She just mumbled, "Oh, go to hell, shitface. I hope your date gives you her crabs."
Without a hint of irony in his voice, Ben answered, "Great talking to you!" and then closed the door. I don't think he had the faintest idea he'd just been insulted.
Sure, Ben's annoying. But chances are you have a friend just like him. I know I do. These characters and the friendship between them (even with all the insults and trash talking) kept the book going. I enjoyed them so much, to me the whole Margo storyline was secondary. I wouldn't even mind reading a book just about Q, Radar, and Ben; they're that awesome.

In case you couldn't tell, I enjoyed this book immensely, and am looking forward to reading more of John Green's YA.

Other Reviews:
bookshelves of doom
Ali at worducopia

If you have reviewed this book as well, leave me a message in the comments and I'll link to your review.


Ana S. said...

I love his first two books and posts like this make me completely sure I'll love Paper Towns too.

And his blog is indeed full of wonderfulness. That seems to be the case with everything he touches, really.

Fyrefly said...

I completely agree with you that the friendships are a large part of what makes this book so great. The story is so focused on Margo, but at the same time, there were scenes with the three guys that literally had me howling with laughter... particularly the "beer sword" at the party, and most of the road trip.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is like going ga-ga over John Green :D :) and I like that! It helps in choosing the books :) so as i cnat get this one- i went ahead and ordered for an older title :)

Awesome review! and i really like it!

Anonymous said...

I must read this author!

Joanne ♦ The Book Zombie said...

I cannot wait to read this one, I read Green's other two books and loved them. His characters are so amazing, the stories are good also but it really is the personalities he creates that put bang into his books.

Thanks for the terrific review :)