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Paper Towns by John Green

PT2

I read this novel for the TUTH challenge: Millennial Problems – read a YA or Junior book, although you could also select Paper Towns for the challenge: Read a book that’s been made into a TV series or film. Either way, I was glad to at last check in with John Green, the author of the hugely famous novel, The Fault in Our Stars (also a film).

Paper Towns struck me as a more light-hearted read – not always an easy thing to find in YA fiction. And yes, it mostly is. It follows the character of Q, who is about to graduate from his high school in the town of Orlando, Florida. Q stands for Quentin, and he’s a fairly nerdy, intelligent boy with a couple of mates, but none of them are in the sporty elite set of popular kids.

He also lives next door to childhood friend, Margo Roth Spiegelman - unlike Q, she always gets her full name whenever mentioned. However their teen years have seen her drift among the in-crowd to become unobtainable. But one night, Margo hauls Q out into the night to perform a bunch of revenge pranks before her planned disappearance. The rest of the book follows Q working his way through a trail of clues as he attempts to discover Margo’s whereabouts. Is she even still alive?

The shadow that hangs over Margo’s state of mind keeps you turning the pages to find out whether she’s OK. Q’s good company, being that wonderful thing for an adult reader, a bookish teenager who’s particular about good English. While Q’s bestie, hyper Ben, can be a bit annoying in his quest for a prom date, overall they bounce off each other in a fun way. The road trip Q and friends embark on is also full of slapstick comedy as the story builds to a climax.

My main beef with the book is the weirdly intense philosophising the main characters indulge in at the end, which didn’t ring quite true for me and the tone of the majority of the story. I just wanted to tell them to get over themselves and get on with their lives. I wonder if they’ll look back on their young selves and cringe. Fortunately overall, I enjoyed Green’s lively writing and humour so the pages whizzed by.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: Paper Towns

5 August 2021

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