Paper Towns by John Green
Reviewed by K. Cushing
Amazon Rating: 4.2/5
CONTENT WARNINGS: NONE
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…
I. Loved. This. Book. To be fair, I’m a big John Green fan. However, I absolutely loved how he dealt with the ‘manic-pixie-dream-girl’ stereotype in this book. I’ve always hated when books portray characters- usually female- as ideas. It also bothers me that some people tend to take this to the real world and raise others on pedestals and see them as perfect, as someone who can do no wrong. The main character, Quentin, goes through the book, solving the mystery of Margo’s whereabouts as well as learning to see her for what she is: a teenaged girl. He learns that she is not a mystery, a miracle, an adventure, or any other sort of idea, but rather, she is a person. I thought the supporting characters were very interesting as well. Quentin’s friends all bring different things to the group and it’s interesting to see how everyone plays into the narrative. Another intriguing aspect of the book is that there are two original covers. The cover posted is the new one, released with the movie, but originally, there were two covers, both portraying a girl (presumedly Margo). One has her smiling in front of a yellow background and one has her looking somber with a blue filter. I think the two covers kind of symbolize the difference between how people see Margo and how she sees herself.
All in all, I loved this book. I liked that it showed the problems with the ‘manic pixie dream girl’ trope often used in books, especially young adult fiction. It teaches that we need to see others complexly for who they really are, faults and all. It showed that most people really are not who they seem to be. Radar is not just an internet-addicted teenager, he’s a very loyal, dependable friend and boyfriend. Lacey is not just a shallow, happy-go-lucky cheerleader. She really felt bad when Margo left and was worried about her well-being. Ben is not just a player with a spontaneous mindset, he’s a good friend who will help you learn and grow, even if those lessons include trashy parties and beer swords. Margo is not the most perfect girl in the world and meant for Q. She is a person who has her own desires and motives. I like that this book not only teaches Q to view others, and the world, complexly, but also teaches that same lesson to its readers.