I have a feeling that I am not the World’s Greatest John Green Fan. I liked The Fault in Our Stars, but I didn’t *love* it. I enjoyed Will Grayson, Will Grayson immensely, but that’s a co-creation with David Levithan. I almost didn’t finish Paper Towns, because I found it really, really hard to connect with as a novel. I am glad I stuck with it and finished, though I am definitely not going to line up in theaters to see the movie.
Paper Towns features the intricate and elusive relationship between Quentin Jacobsen and the girl he worships from afar, Margo Roth Spiegelman. Q is winding down the final weeks of his senior year in high school, with college plans looming ahead. Then one night, Margo Roth Spiegelman bursts through his window and demands a car and driver so she can enact big revenge plans on the people who have wronged her. Q, like the lovesick Hufflepuff that he is, agrees. It’s a quirky, crazy night, but then Margo vanishes as abruptly as she appears, and Q is left to try and unpack the mystery that is Margo.
At first, I genuinely hated everything about this book. Like, EVERYTHING. Especially all the characters (except for Radar; I liked Radar). 18-year-old me would have loved this story, but I was in a very idealistic place back then. 30-year-old me is not impressed by this unrequited love business, especially Q’s sort of bending over backwards for Margo. I wanted to shout, “Buddy, what has she done for you? STOP OBSESSING OVER HER!” Ahem. I am, apparently, not easily impressed. I will say that for me, the ending redeemed the story. It’s not neat or idealistic, but it is realistic, and it encapsulates a very genuine, real, poignant episode in the quest to growing up. I think this book is great for young adults, but I am not the target audience for it.