Monday, August 1, 2011

Read This: Paper Towns

Paper Towns
by John Green

The Short Story  
Growing up, Quentin spent a lot of time with his eccentric, go-getting next door neighbor Margo. But as they got older they grew apart. Now Margo is the uber-cool, mythic, living legend of their high school, and Quentin is just a regular guy. One night Margo shows up at his room and asks him to help with a night of pranks. And then she disappears. Quentin has to decide if he should go looking for the girl he knew and loved, and if she's actually there to be found. Good book that would have been amazing with cleaner content.

Come for the...
truly authentic teenage boy. I started the 10 (book) boy summer hoping to read something different from what I normally read. (Which would be contemporary or dystopian books written by women with female main characters.) The boys in those books are certainly interesting and swoony, but not wholly realistic. Not surprisingly, men write teenage boys more like the teenage boys I knew in high school. And Quentin is no exception. He and his friends make crude comments. They aren't the coolest kids. They're interested in college and video games and not being completely embarrassed by their parents. They pee in bottles and throw them out of windows on a road trip. Basically, they're boys.

But the thing that set Paper Towns apart for me was the portrayal of girls in the book. If Sarah Dessen and others write about the boys we wish we knew, men write about the girls they hope exist. Girls who are as smart as they are hot as they are affectionate. This was one of my big problems with Green's Looking for Alaska. I never knew any girls like Alaska, and I don't think Miles ever really knew her, either. She was always more of a thing or idea, never really a person. I was afraid Margo would be Alaska 2.0, but, without giving anything away, I will say I was very pleasantly surprised. Paper Towns has a great message about the way we look at people, and what it means to know someone.

Stay for the
road trip, the world's largest collection of black Santas, the paper towns, and the mystery.

Don't think about this too hard
  • Remember how I said this book had authentic teenage boys? That also means it has authentic teenage boy crudeness and swearing. One of the reasons I disliked Looking for Alaska so much was the content. This book wasn't as objectionable content-wise, but it's still crude and profane.

The Big Three
Language: heavy profanity, including several f-words
Sex and Stuff: crude jokes and conversations
Violence: two kids find a man who killed himself


  1. Looking for Alaska is one of my favorite YA titles, mostly because it is so unique. As you say, "Alaska was more of a thing or an idea" I enjoyed that aspect of it. I haven't read Paper Towns yet, but it is on my TBR list.

    Thanks for always being so honest & detailed in your reviews :)

  2. danielle, thanks! I always feel bad being critical of Looking for Alaska because I know so many people love it. So thanks for sharing a different point of view! If you liked Alaska I think you'll really enjoy Paper Towns. :)

  3. I recently got a very strong recommendation for this book! I think I will def check it out after reading your review- but I'm so glad you mentioned the crudeness.

    Crudeness in books and movies is usually a huge turn-off for me, but as long as I know about it in advance then I can at least be prepared. Oh boys...why must you never really grow up. lol

    Great review!!

  4. Thanks Lisa! It really is a great book. I realize John Green is known for having controversial content, but I could do without all the crudeness, too. I thought it was worst at the beginning, and then almost completely disappears by the end.
    And it's so true about boys. I was telling my husband about the road trip, bottle throwing in the book & he laughed for a long time.. sigh. :)
    Hope you like the book.

  5. I love John Green, but I do agree, there's stuff in here that I could do without. That being said, I CAN'T wait for his next one! :)