Author: John Green
Publication Date: 16 October 2008 (published by Penguin)
Reminds me of: LOOKING FOR ALASKA. OH MY GOD.
Yes this is my second John Green review in only a couple of weeks. When I heard there was a John Green book that didn’t involve someone dying on me I was like YEP GIMME. Just because death wasn’t an occurrence, however, it doesn’t mean feelings of the frustration and heartbreak variety weren’t experienced.
Our main character Quentin Jacobsen is in his final year of high school and his graduation is impending. His unrequited love for the girl next door, Margo Roth Spiegelman, only fuels his pessimism about his last days at school – she has a boyfriend you see. The book opens with Margo appearing at Quentin’s window late one night and urges him to be her partner in crime in what will be a rather elaborate vendetta against her now cheating boyfriend and backstabbing friends. Margo gets Quentin’s adrenaline rushing – the night is full of risks and danger, yet he tags along in hope of impressing the unattainable Margo.
When school comes round the next day Margo is absent. She’s apparently run away and left speculative clues lying around that only Quentin believes he can decipher. He does… eventually. And then he tracks her down with the aid of his friends and…
The blurb begins: Who is the real Margo? About 60 pages into the book you know exactly who she is (if you’re familiar with John Green). ALASKA YOUNG!!! She’s the same spontaneous, quirky, energetic, free spirited teenager who is just so different to every other female out there. I loved that about Alaska’s personality. With Margo, however, it was just like reading Looking for Alaska the Sequel. Margo makes me whinge. Never have I read of a character I hated so passionately and wished nothing good for. She’s selfish, stubborn as she betrays a lot of people. She reacts before she asks questions and sacrifices the love her loved ones have for her. Normally this is something I’d love because this sort of character drives our plot. But Margo… she just spins the plot round in circles stagnating any resolution. Irrespective Quentin is still whipped.
Green tries to impose a really brilliant philosophy under all the havoc that is Margo. It’s okay to question the status quo. Why do we all follow the same route in life? We go to school, we graduate, we get a job, we get married, we have kids… but what if we did something different? It’s great to have a glimpse at the life of someone who is so against normality. However, it makes you realise the significance of following the status quo. Margo is surrounded by people who love her dearly, and she repels that to live out her life as a free spirit. She acknowledges expectations are different to reality, and finds the best part of any scheme is always the planning. Living out the plan is never as thrilling as the idea of the plan. You’re expectations are so high that reality just disappoints.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I read the book in one sitting and forwent much needed (and valued) sleep in exchange. If I’m digging deep it was addictive and overall I liked it. You may be frustrated with what’s happening but something convinces you to keep on going. Paper Towns is getting three stars out of me. Green’s writing is wonderful as per usual, and the concept of reality versus expectations is brilliant. Margo Roth Speigelman… nuh-uh. He’s talented at what he does although for me Paper Towns is not his finest piece of work. No one did die though… so he gets props for that.
Fun fact: In the past year John Green ranked as the 12th top-earning author making a cool $9 million according to Forbes. Veronica Roth came in 6th and J.K. Rowling came in 8th!