Paper Towns by John Green

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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…


Let’s begin with Quentin. Quentin is the very definition of a one-dimensional character. After finishing this novel I still have no idea who he is, but not in a complex way that makes him this wonderful character full of animation and vitality, the exact opposite is true for Quentin.

What are his likes, dislikes, favorite color, favorite food, what kind of music does he like, what movies do he enjoy, etc. Yes, these are trivial questions but those are the things that make-up a person.

Little things + big things + actions = YOU

All Quentin talked about during the novel was Margo. In the beginning it was how beautiful she was. I kid you not, every page mentioned her hair, eyes, skin, smell, and just overall perfection. It’s weird and kinda creepy for him to be this obsessed with a girl that he didn’t seem to care much about until this book started. But I was able to move past this after awhile and focus on the future of the novel – I wasn’t impressed.

FYI (if you care): For people who haven’t been to Orlando Margo describes downtown quite well actually. After living in Orlando for a year I know that it’s terrible, and her representation of Orlando’s homes is also accurate, certain sections are paper towns. S0, that’s a score for Margo.

The second part of the novel is really boring. Quentin figures out Margo is missing and soon gathers clues to find her. In this time he reflects on how cool she is, how eccentric and misunderstood (I call bullshit) she is compared to everyone else in the world. Hanging out at abandoned buildings and reading poems by Walt Whitman because she’s so down-to-earth. Soon enough Quentin learns that maybe the Margo he thought he knew wasn’t her, but someone else.

Q: Who is the real Margo?
A: Who gives a shit!

I realize that that answer is harsh, but the proverbial question of “who is Margo?” got old quickly. The real question I repeatedly asked myself was WHO GIVES A SHIT! Seriously, Margo isn’t interesting. She’s not too cool for school or some overly complex mind troubled by her past. She’s just an upper-middle class girl who reads Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, hangs out in abandoned buildings, and runs away a lot for attention.  Could she be more cliche? I’m sorry, her extensive collection of records that include Johnny Cash is what really makes her unique.

Are you understanding my issue here? Now, I’m not trying to bash Emily Dickinson, Johnny Cash, or Walt Whitman – who I happen to love – because they’re not the problem, it’s how Green utilized these things as evidence that she’s so different. Until, of course, the end where she’s the same as everyone else. In the end I couldn’t buy what he was trying to sell, nor could I buy the ending and how neatly wrapped everything became. She was a spoiled brat – end of story.

The road trip portion of the novel was one of the reasons I relinquished and gave two stars. It was enjoyable and believable, especially to someone like me who’s been on MANY road trips.

Philadelphia –> Oklahoma, Philadelphia –> Florida, Philadelphia –> North Carolina, Florida –> Georgia, Florida –> Philadelphia, Philadelphia –> Washington D.C., etc.

The major problem Paper Towns suffered was making it about Margo and Quentin when he should have chosen one. Either Margo and her outer facade -the way she’s described is as if she’s this higher being with beauty, charm and majestic qualities, but there aren’t facts to back-up this claim – and the real her, or Quentin.

The end was supposed to be all philosophical and profound, a serious thinker, but it was just pretentious. Plus, where she ends up being is completely preposterous. I don’t really know what else to say. I can give a list of characters dimensions…

Margo – One-Dimensional

Quentin – One-Dimensional

Ben – One-Dimensional

Lacey – One-dimensional

Radar – Three-Dimensional (they didn’t mention him enough in the book)

Parents – One – dimensional

Entire high school – One-Dimensional

I’m sorry if this review wasn’t more in-depth but it took me forever to finish this book because it was soooo boring and self-centered. There were good moments but the bad outweighed the good by a large margin.

23 thoughts on “Paper Towns by John Green

  1. happyalexx says:

    Sometimes I love John Green other times I kind of find it pretentious trash. I liked the film version of this book but I haven’t actually read it myself because SO many people say it’s boring, Green’s idea was good first time round but now it’s the same typical characteristics but in slightly different settings. But the girl is always beautiful and mysterious and the boy is always nerdy, sweet but has some major problem or is socially awkward etc. Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska seem almos parallel in plot.

    • Codie says:

      I’ve actually never read any other John Green novels, but I’m not looking forward to it. Which ones have you read and enjoyed? The book was very slow and boring, however, since you saw the movie you might be interested in reading the book. I’d love to read your review if you decide to read it. Wow! I didn’t know that was a common theme for him. Thanks for telling me, now I don’t have to read Looking for Alaska 😀

      • happyalexx says:

        I did enjoy looking for Alaska, but every book since then seems to follow a similar plot. I read The Fault in our Stars and thought it was predictable and there’s also some really deep reasons why I don’t like the book but I won’t go into that. I also read An Abundance of Katherines which it’s pretty boring and the characters weren’t that interesting

      • Codie says:

        Oh okay, so basically he’s writing the same book over and over again. If you’ve read one you’ve read them all, so I’m not really interested in the other novels. I’m sorry The Fault in Our Stars was so disturbing (I don’t know if that’s the word you’d use) for you; good thing is you can avoid can avoid Green’s novels.

  2. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Great review! I have no intention of reading any more John Green books after TFIOS and Looking for Alaska :/ – and this book doesn’t sound like an improvement. The fact that Quentin is a one dimensional character is totally symptomatic of what Green’s characters are all like :/ Plus Green’s pretentiousness is often really boring!
    haha loved the bit when you said:
    Q: Who is the real Margo?
    A: Who gives a shit!
    And nice pic of House!
    Yeah- this book sounds like typical John Green to me- not worth bothering with as far as I’m concerned :/

    • Codie says:

      Thank you 🙂 Isn’t it just soooo boring?! It seemed like he was trying to make more of his stories then there actually is, plus I can’t relate to his characters at all. I wouldn’t recommend it, especially since most people who read Looking for Alaska and this said it was the exact same. Haha, I was literally thinking that answer the entire book. And House is the best 😀

      • theorangutanlibrarian says:

        It really is!! Yeah definitely. Have you ever watched his videos? Cos he has this video where he basically tells stories about his time at school and, apart from the girl dying, it’s basically the whole plot for Looking for Alaska (sorry if that was spoilery- except it’s kind of obvious cos people die in his books and it’s not a surprise anymore. I swear he writes like an angsty teenage girl) Yeah I’m not gonna bother- I am so done with John Green. haha- that’s the answer I think of any time Green poses any question in any of his books. House is the best!! 😀

      • Codie says:

        OMG I didn’t see these comments until now! I’m so sorry my replies are so late! No, I’ve never seen his videos but I’ve heard he really goes by his life experiences – which aren’t that exciting. And they do keep dying. It’s kind of like The Walking Dead or GoT, at this point anyone can die and I wouldn’t be surprised. Haha, an angsty teenage girl :’D that’s so funny and true. Lol, that’s because it’s the most honest – who cares about Margo, Alaska, Hazel, etc. It sounds harsh but it’s really true. House is the best! haha

      • theorangutanlibrarian says:

        haha no worries- I’m replying super late too (busy weekend, plus I’m exhausted- so don’t be surprised if my replies make no sense lol :p ) Yeah he does- and when you know about his life experiences, his books are even more boring cos he literally regurgitates them verbatim :/ hahahaa that’s amazing- sadly it’s not as exciting as GOT though :p Exactly!! It really is- it’s one of the best things I’ve ever been recommended, cos I might not have watched it otherwise (I didn’t use to like hospital dramas- but house cured me of that- cos who couldn’t love sherlock holmes in a hospital?)

      • Codie says:

        I recently watched one of his videos and just, wow. That guy is a lot of unsavory adjectives haha, but you’re soo right. It’s definitely not on the same level as GoT, at all 🙂 It really is an amazing show. I can’t watch it all the time because I became super paranoid that I had every disease that exist, but House is the only good Hospital Drama. Haha, House cured you, that’s funny.

      • Codie says:

        Haha, I ditto that, doctors are the worst…except when they’re like curing you and stuff…but even then they’re awful.

      • theorangutanlibrarian says:

        Haha yeah even then- I don’t know if it’s just me but they always seem really sinister (maybe it’s the fact that they smile when they say “my my my you’ve been through the wars” *shudders*)

      • Codie says:

        Haha, no worse than dentist, though. They seem to go out of their way to make jokes about accidentally cutting off your tongue or something while in your mouth…or maybe it’s just m dentist…

      • theorangutanlibrarian says:

        Hahaha that’s true- I’m also afraid the dentist will tell me all my teeth are falling out tbh :/ and I’ve had done bad dentists (one managed to make my while mouth numb except for the bit where the tooth that they were pulling it out was… They didn’t notice that I was writhing in pain either!

      • Codie says:

        I think that experience is enough to deter anyone from the dentist…that’s scary. I’ve had the same dentist for about 15 years, so no bad experiences from multiple dentist, but I’d never go to the dentist if I were you because that’s like a nightmare…

      • Codie says:

        I commend you for going at all, haha, I would just let my teeth rot…I don’t know why the’d be rotting, though :/

  3. jessreadingnook says:

    Haha I’m sorry you didn’t like it, but I enjoyed reading your review. I liked Paper Towns, but I also hadn’t read a lot of John Green/new-ishYA lit when I read it. I’m sure I wouldn’t enjoy it as much if I read it today. But Q is such a selfish character, and Margo wasn’t that great either, so I understand why you didn’t like it.

    • Codie says:

      It really was disappointing, but I’m glad you enjoyed the review! I’m glad you liked it the first time, but I don’t recommend reading it again because I think you’re right. Wasn’t Q sooooo selfish! Like who cares where Margo is, it’s graduation and prom and life beyond Margo. Ugh. How many John Green novels have you read, Jess?

      • jessreadingnook says:

        Haha yes. He’s a bit of an obsessive brat. I’ve read 3, but they were all so similar so I’m kind of over it.

      • Codie says:

        Very obsessive and brat is a very nice word to use haha. I’ve heard that from a lot of people. Same plot, same characters, different names.

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