Paper Towns

By John Green

Published in 2008 by Brilliance Audio

Format read: audio

Length: 8 hours

Genre: YA realistic/romance

Rating: Five Stars (and added to favorites shelf on goodreads)

Acquired: bought through audible.com


“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.” 

Quentin “Q” Jacobsen has loved his childhood neighbor, the wild Margot Roth Spiegelman ever since they discovered a dead body in Jefferson Park when they were nine; with Margot sneaking in through his window to update him on her investigation. Nine years later, and loving her from afar, Margot reenters Q’s life the same way she entered it nine years prior-through his window dressed up like a ninja with black face paint, a list of eleven things that need to be accomplished that night, and cash. What she needs-him and his car. Quentin doesn’t know what to do, but soon finds himself discovering who Margot Roth Spiegelman has become. As Margot Roth Spiegelman runs away, she left more clues, this time for Q. As Q and his gang of misfits, Ben and Radar, search for the missing Margot Roth Spiegelman  (she is one of those girls that are only called by their full name apparently)   Q starts to see who she really is-not the girl he thought she was. She is like a paper town, like one she sets the boys on an adventure to find.

This novel, on the surface, is another Young Adult novel to add to your shelf. It has a good plot, well developed characters, and quirkiness that is always a plus. The characters are about to graduate from High School, meaning another lifetime achievement to be earned. There is love, and unrequited love. Funny sidekicks, house parties, prom, and a missing girl. When you read beneath the surface, delve deep into the theories of how much can you know a person, truly; and is everything relative? You got this novel on the top spot (or close to) on your bookshelf.

John Green first wowed me with The Fault in Our Stars; now, he wooed me with Paper Towns. I loved the idea of paper towns: a town put on a map to prevent piracy. To turn that concept into a novel, and to do it successfully is a feat. But, then use paper towns for a metaphor about knowing, truly knowing a person and how some can just be paper towns is brilliant. The concept of paper towns existing is presented throughout the novel. The question of why, how  exist is a good question. Green takes it further by making the reader guess how much they really know people in their lives. Not just the mysterious Margot Roth Spiegelman.

“When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.” 

This isn’t the only passage where identity comes up, it is one of my favorites though. I can say I know my best friend. Or I know my neighbor very well. Or this person, and that person. Yet how well? And how well do they see me? We all have cracks, windows, and curtains. You don’t see this much depth in Young Adult novels anymore. Sure, there are the ones that talk about “real” issues because books just about first love, growing up, and high school are fake issues; but, there aren’t many novels like these that are light on the surface, and heavy below. That makes us completely wonder, even after the last period is reached.

“It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined.” 

Yes, Mr. Green, well-said.  I could go on and on and quote this book. But, I won’t. Because I think you, all of you, should read this. Or, just read all the quotes on goodreads. It’ll take some of your breath away by how articulate he is; and how so much meaning and truth is jammed packed in his novels.

I loved listening to this book. I might have to buy a copy, actually. I bookmarked many quotes. including the one you see up top and through. It was a great that I think should be required reading in high school. Going too far with my love of this novel, no, I think not. I think this should be even just considered for required school reading because of how much it touches on individuality, knowing, truly knowing the people around you, and knowing yourself. Also, it involves a character running away, which is a topic I also think should be looked at sand discussed. Green’s depictions of Margot Roth Spiegelman’s parents alone and their reactions to their run away daughter is a great topic to dissect.

Now, one more quote before I leave you to run to the nearest bookstore.

“Imagining isn’t perfect. You can’t get all the way inside someone else…But imagining being someone else, or the world being something else, is the only way in. It is the machine that kills fascists.”