*Warning: Contains Spoilers*
John Green’s Paper Towns is easily a classic and officially one of my favorite books. His style of making the characters painfully realistic and relatable just makes the book better. John Green brings to life characters and plot lines that no other author could do so well. He never stops to try to make his characters perfect and pleasing to the reader but instead brings out their flaws clearly, not hiding any details. The first John Green book I have ever read was An Abundance Of Katherines and since then I have admired his writing skills. His books bring out emotions no one even knew existed. Green doesn’t have to look far for his ideas and inspiration, he just has to find ordinary situations and write an extraordinary book about them. As a teenager especially, his books seem so relatable because we can understand the struggles of dating and prom and love and stereotypes.
Paper Towns starts off with a young Quentin Jacobson and who is already in love with Margo Roth Spiegelman. They discover the dead body of a man who has killed himself and they both react very differently. He steps away from the body whereas she steps closer to it. This already shows us the difference in their personalities which eventually leads to them drifting apart as they grow up. Margo looks for adventure and thrill while Q is quite fine with a cliché and mellow existence. Margo is popular and beautiful but morbidly unhappy with her life. Quentin on the other hand has an average life with average friends and seems quite satisfied (except being hopelessly in love with Margo who he is no longer close to).
One random night Margo convinces Q to go on an adventure with her to punish her boyfriend and best friend who were secretly sleeping together behind her back. They also punish a few other wrong doers in the process. Eventually they go home and Q is excited about what the night will lead to only to find out that Margo has completely vanished. At first he thinks she’ll eventually turn up as she had the tendency to run away sometimes but after being gone for a long time Q finally realizes she’s not coming back on her own this time and so he begins a Sherlock-like chase.
Quentin feels that since he and Margo spent the night together before she disappeared he has an obligation to look for her. He knows she loves mysteries and thinks she’s hidden some clues that will eventually lead to her location. Deep down he thinks that she wants him to look for her and find her. Meanwhile, a lot seems to be happening at school where Quentin’s not-so-popular friend Ben is now dating Margo’s super popular friend Lacey and everyone (except Q) seems to be obsessed with prom. This adds an element of humor and fun to an otherwise serious book which is always welcomed.
Finding the clues that Margo left leads to Quentin’s quiet and uneventful life becoming a whole lot more fun and adventurous. He visits places he never otherwise would have visited, he stands up against the bullies, he even misses his own graduation in order to go look for her. Ironically, his parents who are both psychologists seem to be missing this change of personality (or as he points out as long as he isn’t turning into a juvenile delinquent they’re okay with the changes).
Eventually, Quentin and his friends (which now includes Lacey) locate Margo and go on a road trip to New York to find her. However, when they do finally find her she barely acknowledges their existence and tells Q she didn’t want him to look for her. She confesses she never wants to come back and prefers instead to go her own way unlike Q who wants to go to college and lead a normal life. After a passionate kiss they decide sadly to go their own way but promise to keep in touch.
The book ends with them kissing but knowing they will no longer be together as they have both chosen different paths in life. The ending is quite sad and depressing but yet very honest and realistic. I actually liked that John Green decided not to bring them together but rather let them go their own way because that makes the most sense.
In conclusion, even though this book made me super sad and I didn’t get out of my pjs for almost two days after reading it I would still recommend that this is one book you absolutely should read (and keep some ice cream or chocolate nearby for when you finish it). As always John Green has done it again, giving us a book that has taught us more about life than schools ever will.
“What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable”