Summary: “Paper Towns” by John Green was an enjoyable book about a boy named Quentin and his crush, Margo. They grew up together only to later drift apart in high school. Quentin, however, has never forgotten the strong, independent Margo. One night, she makes a visit to his house, asking for help as she takes revenge on her ex-friends. Quentin, a quiet boy, goes alone for an adventure filled night. Just when things are starting to look up for him, Margo goes missing. Most of the family accepts this, but Quentin can’t. Deciding to ditch prom, Quentin and his friends go and search for her, following small clues she left behind. SPOILERS from here on: Turns out that Margo used a paper town, a place on a map that didn’t really exist, to writings in a dark abandoned building to leave clues about her whereabouts. I’m not sure why she left these. In the end, after a long and hilarious ride in a mini-van (because even though they agreed to ditch prom, some of them, like Ben, really, really want to make it to prom) they speed as fast as they can to find Margo, and actually succeed. Only, the thing is, Margo didn’t want to be found. But, Quentin gets a kiss and feels that he has grown in some way after resigned to the fact that he must let her go.
Response: There’s a really funny scene during one of the pitstops; “Radar revs the engine as if to say hustle, and we are running through the parking lot, Ben’s robe flowing in the wind so that he looks vaguely like a dark wizard…” (Green, 254). That really cracked me up. As a teacher certified in English, I really enjoyed the literature expressed in this book; “I grabbed some cold lasagna from the fridge for lunch and went to my room with Walt. It was the Penguin Classics version of the first edition of Leaves of Grass” (Green, 115). I also enjoyed the paper town and the black Santa collection from Radar’s parents. I suppose this was supposed to be a coming of age story, but it didn’t really feel that way. Only on the very last page did Green suggest any growth, and I didn’t fully buy it; Quentin was just forced to let her go. At least he got a kiss.
Themes: Heavy themes include: The ingenuity of literature, as well as being lost and not wanting to be found.
Audience: I think high schoolers would really enjoy this book the most, but that it is readable by middle-graders as well as adults, as most books really are. I’d like to see this in a 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th graders hands.
Cons: I hated the cursing and use of the God’s name in vain. Teens might talk like that, but I feel that there are other ways to express reality as it is without using God’s name that way. It only encourages it. I’m a Christian; it makes since I feel this way.
Lookout: Again, I really enjoyed the use of literature; it inspires kids to check it out for themselves without the pressure of a English teacher. Green also used diversity in this book and I’ll be on the lookout for that, as well, in my future YA readings.
Teen Book Review:
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