I loved reading The Fault in Our Stars and Looking For Alaska. This book has been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years now, and finally, I read it. Paper Towns by John Green is a coming of age story set in the senior year of high school. It follows the story of Quentin, nicknamed Q, as he follows clues to try and find his childhood friend and crush Margo Roth Spiegelman.
The story starts with a bit of flashback in a way. Q and Margo are neighbors. They were close as kids, always off on adventures when one day they come across a dead body while cycling. The story moves to the present day, where Q and Margo are in their senior year of high school. Q is fascinated by Margo, and romantically interested in her, but they have drifted apart over the years. One night, Q is awoken by a knock on his window, and it is Margo. The rest of the night is filled with shenanigans and adventures; it’s the most amount of time the two have spent together in years.
The next morning Q wakes up to find Margo gone. She has run away from home. It is not the first time she has done this, and she always leaves behind clues. This time the clues are for Q, and he is determined to find Margo. The rest of the story follows his search for Margo, trying to understand the clues she left for him. The plot then follows Q’s efforts to figure out where Margo went with the help of his friends. Quentin’s two best friends are Ben and Radar. Q tells them about Margo, and they immediately decide to help him. Lacey is Margo’s friend who, Margo thinks betrayed her, but she also joins the guys to find Margo.
Margo is such an enigmatic character. She seems to have everything, and be anything she wants to be, but as the story progresses the layers are peeled off. Q realizes that he had an idea in his head about who Margo was, but he didn’t really know her. The friendship between Q, Radar, and Ben is so realistic and funny. Ben and Radar are supportive of Q understanding why the driving forces behind his quest. Ben can be a bit dramatic but it didn’t bother me much. They try to get him to enjoy the present, their last year in high school together instead of always worrying about Margo. This story is Q’s journey. He discovers himself. Like any other John Green works, the metaphors in this book are beautiful.
The story is a combination of comedy, heartfelt moments, and mystery. The way the story is written kept me hooked. I wanted to know the mystery that was Margo. The sense of identity is a constant theme that plays throughout the story. Each character has a different interpretation of who and what Margo is while no one knows her. It feels like Margo is an idea than an actual character. Q is worried about her and at one point is seriously concerned for her well-being. Her clues at times seem vague, and even the gang has trouble figuring them out.
This is a YA novel, but it is cleverly written. Q is such a relatable character. He is a little lost, especially in the beginning and everyone can relate to feeling lost at some point or the other. This story is more about the journey than the destination. We find out what happens to Margo in the end, and I thought it was worth it. Margo and Q have a conversation when he finds her that helps change his perspective; making his journey seem worthwhile. This book is thoughtful, philosophical, emotional, and funny. I loved reading this book.
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