Book: Paper Towns, John Green
Release Date: September 22nd, 2009
Rating: 3 stars
Before I begin my review, I must point out that, with the exception of The Fault In Our Stars, many of John Green’s characters are the same. Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska and the Abundance of Katherine’s all have main protagonists who are skinny, nerdy boys who are looking for a great adventure before it’s too late; who want to grab life by the balls whatever way he can. His love interest then seems to be a girl who seems quirky, confident, and popular and does whatever she wants because she can; she also seems to be a girl who seems totally unattainable to our protagonist.
It worked for Looking for Alaska; I adored that book. However, when I noticed the same pattern for the Abundance of Katherines I got a little put off. And when I found it here again, I just said that’s enough. Sorry John Green, I think you’re a great author and I love TFIOS, but I can't read the same strategy three books in a row. No. It gets too repetitive and turns people off reading your books in the future.
Quentin Jacobsen is our protagonist, and he possesses all of the qualities I mentioned above. His love interest is Margo Roth Spiegelman, and she too possesses all the qualities I mentioned above. Quentin had a crush on Margo ever since they were kids, but as they grew up they formed different cliques in school and never really interacted often, although Quentin always loved her from afar.
One seemingly random night, Margo show up at Q’s window and asks him to drive her around to all her friend’s houses so she could prank them in revenge for betraying her. And like a love-struck teenage boy, Q agrees. And so follows an unforgettable night of putting smelly fish in cars, shaving off eyebrows and contemplating life. While you automatically want to say no to these activities, you know deep inside that those are the memories you will look back on fondly when you’re older.
After their memorable night, Margo disappears, leaving abstract and seemingly unrelated clues to give a hint to her whereabouts. So Q becomes obsessed with deciphering the clues and discovering where she is, learning a lot about himself and Margo on the way.
While I feel that John Green recycled the basis for some of his characters in this book, I can’t deny that the message and moral of the story is something different and definitely well-written. We all automatically assign people personalities and assume they are one thing when they could be another. Q assumed Margo was this popular, unpredictable girl when she was quite insecure about herself and hid her interests from her friends. Another character Lacey, was first portrayed as your typical popular, cheerleader I’m-better-than-you girl, but once Q and his two friends befriended her over their mutual loss of Margo; we quickly discovered that Lacey was totally different than what was assumed.
While I was disappointed that some of the characters seemed similar in this book, I still some parts of it. I thought Quentin got too obsessed with looking for Margo when he wasn’t even extremely close with her to begin with, but I liked how he grew up and became a man through uncovering the clues she left behind.
John Green is still a great author, and I enjoyed the banter between Q and his two friends. I just think that the recycled character is getting too outdated. We need something new, John Green! Maybe go from a girl’s point of view next time; that worked really well for Hazel!