Published September 22, 2009 by Speak (first published 2008)
Paperback, 305 pages
Borrowed from the library
Quentin and Margo have been neighbors their entire lives and one night, Margo sneaks into Quentin's room through the window and asks him to accompany her while she plans revenge on several people. Quentin obliges. However the next day at school, Margo is nowhere to be seen. Quentin soon discovers a set of clues that Margo has left behind in her disappearance and follows them in hopes of finding her.
I admit, I had really high hopes for Paper Towns. The last John Green book I read, An Abundance of Katherines, was honestly not very good and I was looking forward to Paper Towns being WAY better. And it was better, but I still don't know if I like John Green. Which makes me feel like a unicorn.
WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
The first thing about this book is that the narrator is a super-smart, whiney, seflish, jerky boy and pretty much sounds like all of the other John Green narrators (even Hazel). The only difference is really his name and his story and frankly, I think we can have some more diversity in a narrator than just that. But let's go back to Quentin's character, which I described as a smart and whiney boy (among other things). I am not a smart and whiney boy and I cannot relate to this Quentin. Meaning that I had a very tough time getting into this book because everything that came out of this kid's mouth was so ridiculous, I can't even begin to comprehend. Quentin would be spewing out penis jokes one minute and then the next, in a very deep moment. It was like this awkward transition between being an actual teenager for a minute to intelligent adult the next. And it did not work for me or for my opinion of Quentin.
As for the other characters (with the exclusion of Margo - she gets her own paragraph), they were either (a) annoying or (b) likeable but not memorable. Let's start with Ben. Ben, my favourite character. Oh, how I loved his disgusting and demeaning term 'hunnybunny'. I would give ANYTHING for a boy to call me that. And his penis jokes were such a delight. I enjoyed seeing them pepper each page like a tiny gem (okay, I'm done with the sarcasm). Then there's Radar who I actually, genuinely liked. Hey Radar, thanks for not being a compete a-hole and actually providing some sensible advice, even though it was usually ignored. (By the way, what was with his parents' Black Santa fetish? Was that just something John Green decided to put in there to be funny? Because it wasn't.) And finally, Lacey - another character I genuinely liked even if I couldn't understand why she was with Ben. But the sad part is that there wasn't enough of Lacey and Radar in this book and TOO MUCH of Ben.
And as I have promised, here is a paragraph dedicated entirely to Margo! Yay! Not. I will say straight out that Margo is a total diva. She is so self-centered and annoying and immature that there will never be another antagonist worst than her. She disappears with NO warning and when people actually get pissed at her for doing a jerk thing, she cries and calls shit AT THEM. When she really has no reason to run away in the first place. Look, Margo, I'm sorry your boyfriend was being a dick and sleeping with your BFF and I'm sorry that you find everything so stifling. Personally, I don't think that's a good reason to move to the middle of nowhere and not tell anyone but at least have the decency to not turn tables on other people when they get worried and try to find you. Ugh. Why is Quentin so obsessed with her? I don't get it. If it were me, I would have just let her rot in that shack. She was just as bad and annoying as everyone around her.
I also did not get the jokes in this book. They bear no meaning and they don't feel like they belong in the story. It's as if John Green just tossed some 'funny' lines in for the sake of it. THEY'RE NOT ACTUALLY FUNNY. THEY MAKE NO SENSE. THEY DON'T BELONG IN THIS STORY. I will now take the time to list you some of the jokes I found in this book to show you my point:
1. Radar's parents' black santas. I think I've already mentioned this but I can't help but restate this because it is so ridiculous that I am having trouble imagining why anyone would want to put this in their book.
2. RHAPAW which stands for Rode Hard And Put Away Wet. What does this even mean? And why is there an acronym for this?
3. Bloody Ben. It's not even worth the time to explain.
4. Ben's giant balls. No, just no.
I mean, I appreciate humor in books but when it's actually funny and not just inside jokes placed here and there.
But the thing that bugged me the most were the 'deep' moments. They weren't deep, I'll tell you that. They were trying hard to be deep but they were not deep. I swear if I had a nickel for every time Quentin or another character went off on a tangent and started talking about the meaning of life, I would have five dollars by now. But seriously, this is something I've seen over and over in John Green's writing - he takes an absolutely RIDICULOUS story and tries to add more substance by comparing life to balloons, or paper, or grass, or vessels. First of all, none of this makes any sense and second of all, it really only emphasizes how weak the story is, if you have to rely on nonsensical, irrelevant metaphors to beef it up, so to speak.
I think I am going to have to come to terms that John Green just doesn't cut it for me. I don't appreciate his profoundness or his characters and I have little patience for his jokes. Quentin was an annoying protagonist and Margo, an annoying antagonist. I disliked Ben but really liked Lacey and Radar though I wished there could have been more of them. Overall, this book was a disappointment. It was nowhere near reaching my high hopes at the beginning!
John Green fans. I honestly can't think of anyone else.