Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns by John GreenPaper Towns by John Green
Published by Speak on September 22, 2009
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 305
Source: Borrowed: A student brought this book to me and told me to read it!
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Who is the real Margo?
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...

Oh, John Green. I expected a little better from you.

Overall, I did enjoy the Paper Towns storyline, and I had trouble putting the book down. But the dialogue between Quentin and his friends…cringe. They use the word “retarded” more than once (to be fair, Green has said he regrets that), the way they talk about girls (and Quentin’s mom) is sexist and gross, and gender stereotypes/the gender binary are constantly being asserted (for example, Quentin says to his friend Ben: “I have this thing that makes me really uninterested in prom shoes. It’s called a penis.”) Look, I know plenty of teenage boys talk like that to each other, but does YA literature have to reinforce these things? Can an author be authentic if they choose language that elevates? I think the answer is yes: I don’t remember this kind of dialogue in Green’s The Fault in Our Stars

That being said, the story was a great ride. I wasn’t never sure exactly where it was headed, or how it would turn out. And I loved how the book gets you thinking about meaningful, authentic relationships with other people; about trying to understand, love, and accept another person for who he or she is, not what you want them to be.

Thanks to Taylor from Something Blooming for letting me borrow this book (ummm, two years ago, sorry it took me so long!)

  • Bleh, yeah, the use of “retarded” in books published even very recently has made me cringe. I’m glad we’ve made the switch away from using the word, and I wish publishers would go back and take it out of new printings of old books.

    My memory of this book is that I thought it was very Manic Pixie Dream Girly, and then I was delighted to find that actually it was John Green criticizing that trope. So that was a nice surprise! I haven’t revisited it and probably won’t (it wasn’t my favorite overall), but I was glad that Green wrote a whole book critiquing a trope I hate.

    • I had to google that trope because I hadn’t heard of Manic Pixie Dream Girl before (it sounds like a band name haha), but yeah, he really does knock that down, which is nice!