Quentin, known affectionately as Q, and Margo “always called by her full name” Roth Spiegelman have been next-door neighbors since they were two. As pals at nine they both shared a mystery: they found a dead guy at their local park. But by their senior year in high school, they seem to be connected only by street address. Margo has become an enigmatic, beyond-cool popular girl who transcends even the smallest high school stereotypes, whereas Quentin is the average, slightly geeky boy who loves words and has 100% school attendance. When Quentin, much to his surprise, finds love-of-his-life Margo at his bedroom window late one night, little does he realize this is only the beginning of Margo’s mysterious behavior. After a mischievous night pulling pranks until the break of dawn, Q wakes up to discover that Margo has disappeared, but not without leaving cryptic clues pointing to her whereabouts. Deciphering and following them will turn everything he thought he knew about his childhood friend upside-down and unknowingly put him on a course to self-discovery.
I’ve been wanting to read one of John Green’s books for awhile now, and though I couldn’t decide which book to start with (it seems that everyone I’ve talked to has a different favorite), I eventually chose his latest, Paper Towns – if only to see for myself what everyone was talking about. Afterall, I don’t know if anyone reading YA can escape hearing about Green. Having finished I find myself torn, wondering why I seemed to like it 4 stars worth (more than most of those around me), but why I’m giving it 3 stars. On one hand, I was continually impressed and dazzled by Green’s ability to write a YA novel with both incisive teenspeak writing, quirky characters, contemporary wit, and wacky trivia as well as classic literature references, deep themes and metaphors, and philosophizing. It seems to me (having only read Paper Towns) that his books deserve all the hype they receive. I loved learning about paper towns (which really exist) and analyzing excerpts of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”. I was surprised at how well-paced the plot was. And did anyone else notice the genius of Spiegelman for Margo’s last name? (“Spiegel” means mirror in German).
That said, I think I may have liked it more than others simply because it was my first John Green read, thus his style was totally new and novel to me. *Sigh* I really have spent too much time wondering if I would’ve felt the same way if it was my second or third Green book, especially since all of his books share similar characters and plot-lines. But in the end it came down to the undecided feeling I had towards one of the main characters. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t so much that I didn’t like said character (which is a common complaint), but that I still didn’t completely understand her/him by the end of the book – that’s what bothered me. But maybe this is what Green intended. So in the end this will remain a three-star book unless A) I read either or both of his first novels and feel differently, or B) I decide I want to be more or less objective in my review.