BookMark: "Paper Towns" by John Green

Jul 16, 2015

Reviewer Kristine Allen and the cover of "Paper Towns"

  Full disclosure first - I am a devout John Green fan. I’ve read all his books. I follow him on Twitter just to see when the next one is coming out (hurry up, John!). I even follow his books on Twitter (yep, “The Fault in Our Stars” does have its own Twitter account).

And “Paper Towns” is my favorite of the John Green novels.  I truly loved this book!  Yes, it’s about teenagers, but adults will enjoy this book as well.  Green gives us lots of laughs, but always within an important and moving story.

“Paper Towns” is full of endearing characters, a page-turner plot and some important life lessons learned along the way.  It may bring tears to your eyes in a few places and it will make you laugh out loud - a lot!  Best of all, Green has a way of letting you in on the inside jokes between the main character, Quentin "Q" Jacobsen, and his best friends.

His friends are a quirky, endearing bunch, and their relationships give rise to many of the big laughs, including some hilarious angst over a…. well, let’s just say a certain unusual Christmas decoration.  

The novel is about young love, from a boy’s point of view. Q falls hard for his mysterious neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman. She’s strong-willed, daring and maybe a bit dangerous.  He tags along with her on some crazy (and hilarious) late-night pranks, admiring her daring and her legs.  But when she disappears, he learns the extent of his own inner strength as he moves heaven, earth and his high school graduation to look for her.  Best of all, his quirky circle of friends joins him for an epically funny road trip that you won’t soon forget.

And along the way, we learn what a “paper town” really is – and that they do, in a manner of speaking, actually exist.

Green’s writing is absorbing. You simply have to turn the page to see what happens next to his characters. They are often kind of quirky or crazy, but real and human enough to jump off the page at you.  And you’ll remember them long after you close the book.

Green is also brilliantly funny as a writer, so much that I wonder how some of the scenes that made me laugh out loud will be translated for the film version.  Will those scenes still work as on-screen comedy, without Green’s narration? 

It’s unusual to have equal appreciation for a book and a movie based on it.  But for me, the first film adaptation of a John Green novel, “The Fault in Our Stars,” came pretty close to hitting the mark.  If the “Paper Towns” movie is even two-thirds as well done, it will be well worth seeing. 

But heed this advice, read the book before you go.  John Green’s writing is not to be missed!

That book is "Paper Towns" by John Green. It’s published by Dutton Books.

Reviewer Kristine Allen is the program director at WPSU. Have you read a good book lately? Tell us about it at wpsu.org/bookmark.