A Paper Book With Concrete Messages

Carley Berlin ’14
EE Staff Writer

“Paper Towns is about what we do and do not see when we imagine each other,” said John Green in a videoblog about his book.
John Green is an American author and hilarious video blogger. In 2006, he won the Printz Award for his first novel, Looking for Alaska. Six years later, his The Fault in Our Stars made the New York Times best seller list and is now being turned into a movie.Other works by Green include: An Abundance of Katherines, Let it Snow, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson.
Paper Towns, written by John Green, is one of those books that a reader will not be able to put it down.
It is Green’s third novel. Published on October 16, 2008 by Dutton Books, it was number five on the NY Times Bestsellers list and won the 2009 Edgar best Young Adult novel.
Paper Towns takes place in Orlando, Florida. Quentin “Q” Jacobsen has been harboring feelings of unrequited love for his neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, a girl so amazing that her entire name must be said. Childhood friends, they grew apart in high school, as many teenagers do.
That’s why Q is surprised when Margo shows up at his window, in the middle of the night, asking for help. As any hopelessly- in love teenager would, Q agrees. They drive around town seeking the kind of vengeance that we readers love to live vicariously through.
The next day, Margo is gone. Although not the first time she runs away, Q is worried. So, partly hoping that she wants him to and partly believing that it is his duty to, Q tries to follow the clues that Margo left for him.In searching for Margo, Q ultimately finds himself. I’ll admit, a much deeper message than I anticipated.
“When did we see each other face-to-face?” said Q. “Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.”
The book is written in three parts, named by the metaphor that it is about: Part One: The Strings, Part Two: The Grass, and Part Three: The Vessel. The Vessel is further divided into sections marked by the hour, a technique that builds suspense and anticipation.
Paper Towns is not what I expected. I read every other book by Green in what some may call an ‘obsessive’ manner, and this one left me thinking the most. It ties together romance, adventure, and mystery with hilarious dialogue and memorable characters. The main criticism I have with this book is the ending. The book builds up to this exciting moment only to disappoint the reader. The character of Margo seems to have no character development or change throughout the book, something that I feel is a vital element to the realistic quality to the book. I rate this book 4.5 out of 5 Eagles.
Sadly, you will not be able to see Margo and Q grace the ‘big screen.’ After selling his screenplay to Mandate Pictures and Mr. Mudd, Green announced that it was unlikely that it would be a film due to contrasting views on “what makes a good movie.”
In a way that only John Green can, humor is perfectly intertwined with truths.
“And all at once I knew how Margo Roth Spiegelman felt when she wasn’t being Margo Roth Spiegelman: she felt empty… Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl,” says Q.

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