Review: Paper Towns by John Green

Thursday, February 19, 2015
Why I chose this book:
Honestly, this book has been on my TBR pile for a long while. Obviously, because it's John Green. But what really made me knuckle down and read it was the fact that it was required reading for a YA Lit course I'm taking. In the end, I'm glad I read it, but I have a few opinions I would like to hash out about this interesting book.

Paper Towns by John Green
Publisher: Speak
Publish Date: October 1st, 2008
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Who is the real Margo?

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs 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 day 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. (Goodreads)

My Bookish Likes:
I didn't know what to expect from paper Towns. Would it live up to the hype? Would John Green live up to the hype? Would the world come tumbling down in killing massive-sized remnants of existential teenage thoughts and angst? I didn't know. I even decided to forego reading the synopsis before I read it, just so I would go in with no expectations.

That was probably the best decision I made, concerning this book. Putting the hype for anything related to John Green out of the way, Paper Towns as a book was pretty good. I liked the plot, and the different turns each character took, and the growth all of them made as they navigated the murky waters of their final year in high school.

My Bookish Mehs:
I have one problem with John Green's books. The characters always seem at least slightly, if not majorly, unrealistic to me. Green writes highly intelligent teenagers. I'm not about to say that there aren't teens out there with the same kind of intelligence that Green is writing his characters with, but seriously what teenager reads Walt Whitman, and listens to old records, and sets up crazy, drastic, insane pranks and clues for people to find? I think that may include 5% of the teenage population. Most of us don't do through this kind of existential crises in high school. Yeah, we contemplate similar things, but not in this highly intelligent fashion. Most of the time, it's riddled with angst, alternative music, and badly written poetry. We generally don't liken our situation to a Walt Whitman poem, or rather paper towns and paper people.

My main problem here I guess is that the actions of Quentin and Margo were a bit stretching the normal teenage life. Let's face it, most of us were just trying to survive figh school and move on to bigger and better things. Others loved high school and wanted it to last forever, but this book, I felt stretched their teenage characters into something implausible and less realistic than what you would find in reality.

Final Thoughts:
I'm glad I read this book. It was an overall pretty good book. I found myself laughing out loud as I listened to it on audio. But my complain with John in general is that he shouldn't forget the immature parts of teenager too. There are still intelligent teenage characters that act their age in the world, and we must not forget that.

*Don't get me wron. I'm a huge John Green fan. I think he writes, overall, good books, and I think he has done a tremendous job in his online community and brining positivity to the teenage realm, so don't mistake my opinions above with the idea of who John Green is.

I gave this book 3.5-4 stars (I can't make up my mind) on my Goodreads.


  1. Hey, glad you liked this one - I had a few more problems with it and thought it was an average read. The Green hype is dying down slightly now and I'm beginning to see more people who don't think all of his stuff is that hot. I want to read more of his books but I've heard mixed reviews for all of them, and I hear a lot of his characters are samey - all super intelligent, quirky, odd-ones-out etc. In this book, my big problem was that I didn't like Margo, at all, and I thought the ending was a major let down. Here's my review:

    1. I have noticed that A LOT of the characters are the same, especially since Paper Towns was a response to his manic pixie dream girl that he wrote in Looking for Alaska. All his characters are super intelligent, quirky, and just a little too adult in my opinion.

  2. This is the last Green book I have to read, and I'm honestly not sure when I'll get to it. After An Abundance of Katherines, I've kind of backed off his writing! I really enjoyed Alaska and TFiOS, so I might just hold on to those and let the rest pass me by ;)

    I think the issue with Green and his intelligent characters is that YES there are teens like that, but then he takes it one step to far so they're no longer relatable but kind of unattainable.

    1. In my opinion, I think this was the best John Green book. I wasn't a HUGE fan of Alaska and TFiOS and I haven't read Katherines, but so far, Paper Towns was really good read for an adult about teenagers in my opinion.

      I completely agree with you on the relatability level. I mean, I love English. I'm even getting my Masters in English, but did I randomly liken my life and experiences to Walt Whitman? Absolutely not. I think he forgets that though her writes for a teen audience and about teen characters, he doesn't make then super extremely relatable which I think can be an off-putting side effect to his writing. Now, some people might say, oh that's because it's a male protagonist and a male author or that it deals with really big existential questions... but then I would say that I really LOVE John Corey Whaley's books that deal with the same kind of stuff but in a more teenage realistic way (also see Noggin). :)

  3. My first favourite John Green book is TFIOS, but Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska tie for 2nd place. XD I LOVE THEM ALL, OKAY?! I'm one of those weird fans who loves everything. I'm not logical when it comes to his books. ;-) Although I always feel his characters feel vaguely...the same...hmm.


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