Book Review: Paper Towns by John Green (3/5)

29 Dec

So this is my third John Green book and with each one, I’m giving a lower rating. 5 for TFiOS, 4 for ‘Alaska,’ and now 3 for this title. This is nothing against Green as a writer. I think he develops very rich characters and I think they capture the essence of being a teenager. But I disagree with his message on this one. I don’t think it sent a positive message to kids and I felt like the heroine didn’t deserve to be worshiped. She really bugged me.

Cover image via

Cover image via

Paper Towns by John Green

Summary from Goodreads:

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 never liked Margo, throughout this whole book and I think that ruined it for me. She frustrated me and seemed very self-centered and I didn’t want Q to like her. She wasn’t worth his time in my view. So I was frustrated during the whole book while these awesome characters spent their time and effort looking for a not-very-awesome character.

John Green writes an amazing teenage character. In all his books, it’s the characters that always stand out to me, much more than the story. His adult characters still hold merit, which is good in a YA novel, but don’t hold a candle to his teenagers. I wish I knew the secret to holding on to youth enough to write a teenager this well!

Ben in particular was a stand-out character. I’m not sure he had the most favorable growth or went about it in the most healthy way, but he was able to maintain his identity and personality while becoming a person he wanted to be. I didn’t like how he started (heavily) drinking to fit in with Lacey’s friends but I liked that he remained tight with Q and Radar and was still himself after it all. He could have easily ditched Q and the Quest for Margo to be with his new friends, but he stuck with them the whole time. A great character all around.

I related to Ben, Radar, and Q’s struggle to be happy and fit in during high school. I was perfectly happy with my friends, but it sometimes bothered me that we weren’t the popular kids. What was wrong with us that not everyone liked us? We were pretty awesome, if I don’t say so myself. But we didn’t want to change who we were to fit in with the ‘popular’ kids. It’s a weird middle to be stuck in and it was cool to see Q and the guys in the same place.

The banter between the characters was my favorite part of the book. John Green does teenage dialogue better than anyone else, hands down. Hearing Ben and Radar rag on Q or vice verse was great and it helped take me back to when I was 17. Bravo, Mr. Green.

Image via mental_floss

Image via mental_floss

I hated the ending. I thought it was a terrible message of ‘You can run away from your problems if you want to’ and I think that’s a terrible thing to say, especially to teenagers. I think Margo was idolized and ended up being incredibly self-centered, making me really hate her. I wish Q had been more upset with her in the end because I felt as if she betrayed him. He deserved better.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Dan John Miller. I think he did a wonderful job. His inflections helped me understand who was speaking in a conversation and his inflection when the characters spoke was spot on with a teenager speaker. I liked how he did the IM conversations by using the screen names of the characters as it was in the book. it reminded me of high school.

Wow, a theme for this book? The things you’re looking for are not always worth being found? Sometimes it’s best to leave someone alone? I’m not really sure where to go with this one but I didn’t like the themes. Margo was (legally) an adult. She was allowed to mess up and ruin things for herself and no one let her go along with that. It’s her call if she wants to leave everyone and go away and I wish Q was able to go along with his life without having to know where she was. I felt bad for him.

Writer’s Takeaway: It can’t be said enough: dialogue and teen characters are superb in this novel. No one can do it better than John Green. I think this is a great study of how complex a character can be and how much back story you can put into them without bogging down a story. Because if I say ‘World’s Largest Collection of Black Santas’ and  you’ve read this novel, I’m going to bet you smile. But if not, you’ll be lost because it has nothing to do with the plot. It’s all back story and  you love the characters more because of it without feeling dragged down with their minutiae.

Not that great of a plot, but well written. Three out of Five Stars.

This book fulfills ‘Florida’ for the Where Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

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Related Posts:
Review: Paper Towns by John Green | Bookish at Heart
Book Review: Paper Towns (John Green) | Architect of Fate
Review: Paper Towns by John Green | She blogs about books


12 Responses to “Book Review: Paper Towns by John Green (3/5)”

  1. Yvo December 29, 2014 at 1:22 PM #

    I haven’t read Paper Towns yet, but I did read TFIOS and Looking For Alaska with the same results as you did. I guess we have similar thoughts on Green’s books… I have Paper Towns waiting for me on my TBR pile, but your review made me wonder if it should be better if I stay away from his books for a while. Nothing worse than an author that produces well written books, but disappointing plots… Maybe if I manage to push my thoughts on the other two books to the background, I will appreciate Paper Towns better. Who knows? 😉


    • Sam December 29, 2014 at 2:11 PM #

      I think you’d like it more if you’re not conparing it to his other books the whole time. As always, the characters make it amazing, but I did fid this the weakest of his plots. I’ll look forward to your review when you do pick it up.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Nisha December 29, 2014 at 3:32 PM #

    Hey Sam thanks linking to my post on Paper Towns! Awesome review above, I definitely agree with you on the points about Margo’s character and think the other characters were much stronger and made the book more so than the (dare I say it?) lacklustre plot. And the dialogue – totally John Green at his best 🙂 Followed and liked!


    • Sam December 29, 2014 at 3:34 PM #

      Thank you for book blogging as well! I only link to posts I think are well written and make good points about the books I read. Have a happy new year!


  3. Cynthia December 29, 2014 at 3:46 PM #

    I really liked this one, but I thought John Green put way too many metaphors in it. Even the cop had a metaphor at one point. Weird. I just downloaded Looking for Alaska. Hopefully I can get to that one soon. And I loved TFIOS.


    • Sam December 29, 2014 at 3:48 PM #

      Looking for Alaska was a really solid read, I hope you like it. As I said, I preferred it over this title. I did think the metaphors were a bit much, but that’s John Green. We just have to live with it, haha. Happy Reading!


  4. Claudia {SparrowHawk} December 29, 2014 at 4:50 PM #

    I have learned to tread very lightly amongst the Green murky waters ha ha! I have only read TFiOS, and I think that may possibly be the only Green I’ll ever read, but did you hear they’ve made Paper Towns into a film!? I think it is scheduled to be released June 2015


    • Sam December 29, 2014 at 5:23 PM #

      Yes, I have heard that! That’s why I wanted to read it, before it showed up on screen. I hope it’s a better mivie than it was a book.


  5. Naomi June 10, 2015 at 8:38 PM #

    I think that the whole thing Green was trying to do was purposely make Margo unworthy of Q’s attention. One of his quotes was, “What a dangerous thing it is to believe a person is more than just a person.” Let me ask you how many times people idolize others that are unworthy of their attention whether it be a hot guy or some mysteriously cool person? It’s in our nature to idolize people of this nature and I think that’s what Green was trying to point out that people consistently choose the wrong people to idolize, like Margo, because they have one outstanding attribute, like their popularity. I completely agree that Margo wasn’t worth all the attention, but even if that character isn’t a good person, or isn’t well liked, it doesn’t mean they are substantially important to the book. The same thing in Looking For Alaska. Alaska and Margo are so alike it might as well be the same girl.


    • Sam June 10, 2015 at 8:59 PM #

      I hadn’t thought to compare the two, wow! I get what you’re saying, that Margo became bigger than any person should with how much she occupied Q’s thoughts. I’m afraid that most people who read the book won’t see what you’re describing. I’m afraid they’ll think Margo is awesome and we should idolize people like her and Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan and other popular people because they’re interesting and have cool lives. I wish she’d led Q down more because she seemed to give him an adventure and a cool life himself which makes her more unbelievable.


      • Mack the Knife July 28, 2015 at 10:59 AM #

        “she seemed to give him an adventure”
        I’d argue that he gave that to himself , as she bitched everyone out about finding her. Apparently she just did those so people knew she was alive or whatever. (although why an email or something of that ilk is insufficient for her purposes is left unexplored) Although this mainly makes me think she is stupid, as leaving clues on where you are is not something someone whom did not want to be found would ever do. Especially considering how much effort these clues would realistically have taken to construct. The clues provided by a person whom didn’t give a crap about being found I’d guarantee would never make any sense if they were as convoluted as in Paper towns. You’d think she’d be delighted or amazed they made it, but no that would require her to think about someone else , or think logically at all.

        Now to give credit to John Green he sort of flirts with the idea that Margo is just normal (I’d argue that she is less valuable then an average girl, given that she shows no positive traits at all), however in the book she says that Q is egotistical. Like in the book and the movie she disparages Q’s own plan for his life in the beginning when her own plans are I’m going to go be a bum/hermit or could more accurately be stated as I have none, and rips on everyone as being paper and fake. But you see it’s really Q who’s being egotistical , despite the fact that she disparages others despite having no plans or direction in her life.

        I could maybe see Q viewing Margo as a valuable life lesson, however I don’t see why he would have any positive opinions on her beyond that. (Maybe we should just imagine him being in withdrawal, and Margo is cocaine or something ?) So I guess I’m agreeing with you that Margo was not good in any way, but the positive stuff that happens to Q if any I see as being self driven.


      • Sam July 28, 2015 at 11:03 AM #

        I think the initial night was something Q wouldn’t have experienced without Margo. It was a sort of impotence for his actions the rest of the novel so I don’t agree that it was self started but would say it was self perpetuated. So to your drug reference, the gateway drug to bigger and more destructive behaviors.


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