Thursday, 26 June 2014

Paper Towns

When they were little, Quentin and Margo Roth Spiegelman discovered a dead body on their street. Now they’re approaching the end of their high school lives, they are no longer friends; Q keeps to his small group of nerdy friends and Margo is renowned for her adventures. But one night, Margo rings asking Q for a favour and one last night of adventure. The next day she is gone. Missing. Knowing she always left clues when she ran away, Q sets out to find what happened to the girl next door.

If I had a nervous breakdown every time something awful happened in the world, I'd be crazier than a shithouse rat.

I’m yet to fall head over heels in love with John Green’s writing like the rest of you and Paper Towns hasn’t really swayed me. The characters felt very young in their behaviour and tone, silly little things like their perception of girls. They’re all approaching senior prom, so I’m guessing they would be 18, 17 at least? They didn’t seem old enough at all. But then we’re also used to very mature YA characters, so maybe that’s what American teen boys are like.

I did like the themes of growing out of fantasies and coming to see people who they really are. Q has always idolised Margo. She was in the cool kids crowd but it took a major event to realise she didn’t necessarily like her friends. The paper towns of the title can be read in different ways. I like to think they represented the fa├žade that people put on; that those people might not really exist except in perceptions.

That's always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people would want to be around someone because they're pretty. It's like picking your breakfast cereals based on color instead of taste.

The Omnictionary strand annoyed me a bit. It was clearly Wikipedia, but we are supposed to believe that this boy has invented it and actually nothing else like it exists. Was it written before Wikipedia was widely used? It makes it feel like it’s set in an alternate universe.

It is one of those books where I found it hard to believe in the parents. I know the adult characters are never top priority but they felt a bit 2 dimensional, especially Margo’s parents’ reaction to her disappearance. Surely they would have some sort of mixed feelings about their parting ways? Parents who don’t care that their children are missing usually have much more complex issues going on. And Q’s parents were stereotypes of psychologists, bringing their work into everything and analysing every action.

There are some wonderful, insightful lines peppered throughout and it was an easy read, but for the main part, it was nothing special. I’ll probably give Will Grayson, Will Grayson a go next, as it’s co-written with David Levithan, who has made more of an impact on me with The Lover’s Dictionary.

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Book Source: Purchased

4 comments:

  1. I think out of the few John Green books I have read, this one was the least favourite.

    I do agree that it was a tad unrealistic in terms of characters and tone. I was not a fan of any of the characters which did not help.

    The parents were a bit dull for me as well. I would like to think any child running away would cause more of a reaction!

    Anyway! great review! :) I have yet to read Will Grayson, Will Grayson as I have yet to read that one!

    Have a great week! :) xxx

    Alex @ The Shelf Diaries

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  2. thanks for the wonderful review! This is the first I've come across this book or author and I'm definitely intrigued :)

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  3. I still haven't read any of John Green's books, and the gentle backlash against the megahype (especially the TFioS-worship that's everywhere right now) is definitely starting to penetrate more deeply into my mindset now. I really want to like them - I think I have them all, so I must have some hope that I'll enjoy them - and I'm sure that the little moments of perfect description and quirky characters will resonate on some level, but I'm not sure I'll fall head over heels in love with them. I'm getting too cynical, which is never a good way to go into a book really!

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  4. This review makes me feel a little better! I really didn't like TFiOS but I received ... I can't remember what it's called... something about Katherine as a present in Spring and I keep looking at it dubiously.

    His writing style is fine but I have an issue with the characters, like you said. They just seem so flat and stereotypical. The Omnictionary thing sounds a bit odd too.

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