Paper Towns - John Green

Genre: Young Adult/Fiction 
Synopsis: 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...


Review: This has long been one of my favourite books, and I haven't previously reviewed it because I felt distilling the enormity of it into a three-paragraph critique was far beyond the scope of my ability. I just finished re-reading it, in mental preparation for the upcoming movie adaptation, and I decided to finally give this review a bash. So here goes!

The thing about John Green is his people and plots are secondary. His teenage characters are unlike any of the teenagers or most of the adults I have ever known, but that's okay; because his books play a far more important role in the world of literature than just telling a credible or enjoyable story - that of a mouthpiece for the ridiculous, flawed, tragic and beautiful experience of life. For all that is unlikely and unlifelike in his stories, I've never read anything else that articulates so well the imperfect reality of human nature. And to boot, he has a hell of a way with words.

While The Fault In Our Stars is probably the most conceptually accessible of his novels and therefore, unsurprisingly, often the favourite of his body of work, I think the singular nature of Paper Towns makes it by far his most accomplished work. I am biased, for how we think and how we perceive has always been one of the most fascinating things in the world to me - how we see ourselves versus how others see us, the dual nature of the authentic person we are and the constructed person we try to be, how we idolize and elevate the worth of those around us because we need something to aspire to and believe in, and how all of it is subject to our own fundamentally flawed and often idealized perception. These concepts, boiled down to the simple idea that how we imagine people is never how people are, is the basis for Paper Towns, and all of the contemplation that follows in its pages.

Saturated with profound quotes, razor-sharp wit and tear-inducing hilarity, you could almost overlook the philosophical overtones and simply get lost in the coming-of-age adventure; though to do so would be to do a criminal disservice to this novel. John Green possesses joint gifts in his comprehension of the human condition and his ability to communicate it, and I believe there are lessons to be learned from this novel in how to think about ourselves and the people around us. I think everyone's favourite John Green novel is the one that speaks clearest to them, and for me that is, and will always be, Paper Towns.

Rating: 5/5

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