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 façade 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