© Credits to paper-margo@tumblr for the image.
This is not my first John Green novel, and this isn’t the first time I’m reading Paper Towns. I’m a huge fan of this author, for his stories, and what he does besides them (the nerdfighter community, all of his projects…) and I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you my craziness for now. Even if my favorite John Green novel will always be Looking for Alaska, I absolutely love Paper Towns. I know any review I could write will never make justice for this book, but I can try, and hopefully you’ll want to read it yourself… and maybe even you’ll end up putting it your favorite’s shelf, too.
“As long as we don’t die, this is gonna be one hell of a story.”
Even if it’s been a while, I surely remember like the first day what first attracted to me in this book : having already read Looking for Alaska, I wanted to check out more by this author, seeing if all of his work was, this good. And I wasn’t disappointed. The synopsis intrigued me firsthand : boy in love with a mysterious girl he can’t have. That seems like a Looking for Alaska remake, and I hear you, all of you reviewers saying that. But, even thought we can see some common points between the two stories, I really see them on different levels. It’s not the same story, at all. Sure, there’s maybe a pattern that repeats itself, with the characters : Quentin, not a particular boy, and Margo, the popular, yet elusive girl. But this is not what it seems to be. And that’s what I loved about this story : nothing is as it seems. The story ? Quentin has been forever in love with Margo, the girl-next-door and queen of his high school. She knocks on his window one night, taking him away for the few hours ’til dawn on an unforgettable adventure. In the morning, she’s not just the elusive girl next door anymore : the fog around her is thicker than ever, as she disappears.
“Just remember that sometimes, the way you think about a person isn’t the way they actually are.”
Intrigued? I know, I was, too! I love a mystery, and John Green certainly brought us a good one between those pages. I absolutely love stories where people disappear, I don’t know why, and I was immediately caught up in this story. Here’s something I love, about John Green : I always find his characters believable. Some people may think that Margo is annoying, a brat, bothering during the whole story, and not a realistic character. Personally, even though she has her moments when you tend to hate her, I think she’s a good character, because she has all of these layers. You think you know her, she’s kind of a stereotype, at first. Let me tell you, she’s really, really, not. In this novel, John Green brings us a great deal of diverse characters, with their own personalities and little quirks. Ben is hilarious, Radar is smart, Lacey is beautiful. But they’re not only that. They’re full of layers we slowly peel off. Lacey is a great example of that, and she became my favorite thorough reading this book. You think you know the typical popular girl, but she’s so, so much more.
Okay, so, about the ending. I have to warn you : not everyone will love it. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but even though I liked it, i’m not sure it’ll be the case for everyone. The ending stays true to the rest of the book, and to the final discovery around the character of Margo. If it ended any other way, it wouldn’t have been realistic, and that’s what I absolutely loved. This book is as life is : not always with happy endings we expect, around every corner. It still brings a sense of ending, a good one, a realistic one. I talked earlier about this book being not what it seems. Why ? You must expect a book with romance. With Quentin’s obsession for Margo being the full plotline, and what makes the book go round. I’m not going to lie, it plays a big, big part in the story, and sometimes it could get annoying to some people. But this is not the whole story. It’s a book about friendship, adventure, about going on a journey, figuratively as much as really. All the characters are on this boat. To discover themselves, and others. Because people are not what they seem. This is a book about teenagehood, really.
“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.”
John Green’s writing has been often described as simple, with sometimes over-quotable passages. I don’t find this preconceived idea to be true : sure, writing isn’t really complicated, full of metaphors… it’s quite simple. But it’s fast-paced, and Green knows how teenagers feel, and how to capture their feelings perfectly in his writing. It’s funny as hell, I always find myself laughing out loud at some passages. Moreover, it makes you think. I’m not saying some other books don’t, but sometimes, simple is a great recipe, too : it’s easier to get inside your head. Paper Towns doesn’t fail in this mission, just like Looking for Alaska did for me earlier in my life, and still now when I get back to it. Behind the characters of Margo and Quentin, we get to ask ourselves important questions, that don’t only reflect to teenagers, even though they’re more enclined to think this way. What is, really, a person ? How do you get an idea of her, when you don’t really know her ? How can you built up such an image in your head of someone, with totally preconceived ideas, fantasms, and else ? These are the important questions, and I could say more, and more, but this is the main topic of this book. Honestly, it made me think the first time I read it, and it still does today. Isn’t that what a book should do ?
Paper Towns is hitting theaters in July in the US, in June in the UK, if i remember correctly. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed by this news : ever since I heard they were making a movie, I got nervous. I did already, when it happened for The Fault in Our Stars. I saw the movie, and I can’t say I was too disappointed : the story was well followed, the dialogues even were sometimes taken straight out of the novel. (Blog post to follow on that, if you’d like?) Even though, it breaks me. It breaks something in me to see one of my favorite books taken to the big screen. I can’t even start to explain my feelings towards the actors playing Quentin and Margo. I like Nat Wolff (Quentin), he’s a great actor, I think. But I didn’t imagine Cara Delevingne as Margo. And, hm, check out this movie poster. I can’t get over it. Disappointement is drowning me since I saw this. It’s bad to judge a book on its cover, and I won’t. I’ll wait and see. John Green said the movie was great, and I trust him. Paper Towns is an amazing, unforgettable book. Let’s hope the movie will at least fulfill one of these goals.
John Green, Paper towns, published by Speak, september 22nd, 2009.
Who is the real Margo?
Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew…