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Paper Towns by John Green

Review by Selin

paper towns book cover

Paper Towns by John Green, is a classic enigmatic John Green coming of age novel that readers are sure to enjoy. If you loved Looking for Alaska or The Fault In Our Stars try out Paper Towns! The novel is about the coming-of-age of protagonist Quentin "Q" Jacobsen and his search for Margo Roth Spiegelman, his neighbor and childhood crush. Quentin and Margo have been living next to each other since childhood, despite slowly drifting apart during adolescence and high school. The two suburban Orlando seniors are polar opposites- Margo is popular, ambitious, and bright whereas Quentin is reserved and quiet, choosing to stay in the background. However, Quentin frequently reminisces and idolizes about Margo, never being able to forget the moments that they bonded over during childhood. Paper Towns kicks off when one night, Margo enters Quentin’s room through his window and asks for help on a special mission- she wants to enact her eleven part personal form of revenge on her friends who have wronged her. With Quentin as chauffeur, they break into friends’ houses and cars, wreak havoc, and end their night with breaking into SeaWorld. The following day, Quentin discovers that Margo has gone missing, much to the shock of him and the reader, who has been hoping for a possible reconciliation. Quentin quickly learns that Margo has left behind clues for him, and he sets out to follow the twisted path she has laid for him.  


I would recommend this novel to those over the age of 14, as there are some instances of typical teen language and some innuendos, however nothing is graphic. Plot aside, Paper Towns is an easy read and the figurative language in it is just enough to enrich the story and create an enjoyable reading experience.  


Throughout the story, there were many heartfelt moments that I found myself smiling at. The banter between Quentin and his friends as well as Quentin and Margo is funny, quirky, and is sure to make readers laugh or smile to themselves. Quentin’s endearing character draws readers in, and his adventure and never ending drive to find Margo quickly immerses the reader in the story. Readers will find themselves rapidly flipping pages in order to keep getting closer to unraveling the mystery behind the mysterious Margo. Paper Towns demonstrates some complex lessons about love, friendship, and how we view others. Through Quentin’s obsession with Margo, John Green shows readers that sometimes, it may be impossible to truly empathize with another person’s reality. All we can do is try our best to put ourselves in their shoes and understand how they see the world, while still making sure to retain our own perspective and stay true to ourselves. This message about the dangers of idealization is, in my opinion, very valuable and readers should keep it in mind if they choose to read Paper Towns. Readers can even draw connections of themselves in the characters of Quentin and Margo, who are simply teenagers trying to figure out their lives and who they want to be.  

Checkout Paper Towns from the Newport Beach Public Library.

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