Thursday, April 23, 2009

Book Review: Paper Towns

I have to recommend Paper Towns to you all.

The author, John Green, has had a great deal of critical acclaim for his books--including winning the Michael L. Printz Award, a very big deal. Paper Towns was showing up on all the sites I use to research new books for the YA collection. Since we already had it (and all his others), I decided I'd better read it.

I am not big on the whole teen romance thing. I spent my teens in a corner with a book (go figure) and thought the social spectrum of junior high and high school too strange to delve into. I was worried that Paper Towns would follow the cliques and angst of teen life closely, and I had convinced myself it would be depressing.

It wasn't. Not at all.

In fact, the book had me laughing out loud, the kind of laughing that makes you want to read the funny parts to the people around you, even though you know they don't have any idea what you're talking about.

An example, you ask? Here's one.

Talking about a popular girl, Q (the main character) states, "Those of us who frequent the band room have long suspected that Becca maintains her lovely figure by eating nothing but the souls of kittens and the dreams of impoverished children" (38).

The best part is that you read along not suspecting that the book will make you laugh.

The story follows a young man (Q) about to graduate from high school and in love with the girl next door (Margo). Margo disappears after the two spend a night of petty crime, breaking into the homes of various former friends of Margo's and leaving behind whole dead fish (don't ask--read the book and you'll find out).

Margo leaves clues that Q feels he has to follow in order to find her, because no one else is looking. Even as he does this, the night of crime he and Margo spent together gives him a new found confidence that leads him to truly appreciate his friends, understand himself and his plans for the future, and to finally know Margo as a person instead of just a pretty face.

I expected Q's quest to end either in a horribly predictable, depressing way or an equally predictable, disgustingly romantic way. It did neither.

I finished the book wanting to read it again and determined to read the rest of Green's work.

I recommend this book for guys searching for a good read (I know it's hard) and girls (who will almost certainly identify with Margo's character).

And, just so you all know--John Green is an Indiana writer!

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