Friday, 8 August 2014

BOOKS: Paper Towns - John Green

If you tend to follow my little book series on this blog, you’ll know by now that I quite the fan of John Green’s work. Up until recently, I’d read every one of his books, bar Paper Towns, which came into my possession after a little trip to Eason’s last weekend.

One thing that really stood out to me whilst reading Paper Towns was how similar it is to Green’s debut, Looking For Alaska. The protagonist is a teenage boy, bit of an ‘outcast’, who is completely and irrevocably in love with an enigmatic and eccentric girl, who it seems, he doesn’t have a chance of being with. The thing about Green’s books is that they’re often incredibly romanticized – sometimes it feels like you’re reading passages on Tumblr – and like Looking for Alaska, the protagonist of Paper Towns is completely infatuated with this girl, and sees her in a glorified, and not always truthful, light.

But anyway. On to the story: Paper Towns is told through the perspective of Quentin Jacobsen, a high school senior. Margo Roth Spiegelman is his next door neighbour, with whom he’s so infatuated, and has been since they were little kids. Margo is very much an enigma, perhaps intentionally so: “Margo always loved mysteries. And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.”

I found the story to be quite fast paced, as Green’s stories sometimes are, in that for the first few chapters everything seems to be happening far too quickly, and then slows dramatically. But what I do love about it is how often moods can change: there are times that are serious and dark and sometimes a little creepy, then there are others that are laugh-out-loud worthy moments, and sometimes totally ridiculous. Most of the humour is supplied by Quentin’s two best friends, Ben and ‘Radar’ – I like how they often punctuate Q’s serious thoughts with their own slightly bizarre lives and ideas. It makes the atmosphere a little less heavy.

Out of five, I’d probably give this one a three and a half. I liked it for the most part: the characters are great, the story is really interesting, although sometimes a little fast, and has quite a few ‘edge of the seat’ moments (I almost cried at one startling point. Almost). However, the ending left me feeling completely and surprisingly underwhelmed. You know when you read something, and become so emotionally invested in the story and characters and have an idea of how you want it to turn out, but it just… doesn’t? That’s how I felt about this one.

Regardless, it’s a good read, I do love the mysterious aura surrounding Margo’s disappearance (not a spoiler: read the blurb!). It’s a really well thought out novel too, with so many different links and ideas. A worthwhile read overall, especially if you love a bit of mystery.
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