It seems like book reviews have taken over my blog lately, with several more on the way, including the two I said would take over my blog, once I get either the inspiration or the wherewithal to write them.
But until then, please enjoy this…book review, yet another selection from Rebekah Koontz‘s Blog Book Club: Paper Towns by John Green.
In a similar vein to An Abundance of Katherines, the last novel I read by Green, Paper Towns features an angsty teenage protagonist and his quirky friends withering away, or attempting not to, in suburbia – Orlando, in this case, rather than Chicago. The protagonist himself is pretty forgettable in comparison to his friends – I actually had to sit and think for a moment to remember that his first name was Quentin – Ben, the hopeless romantic; Radar, the token black character who happens to be a supergenius; and Margo Roth Spiegelman, who might just be my favorite John Green kick-ass, way-too-smart high-schooler yet. The adult characters are kind of there; the only ones that get much development are the Spiegelman parents, who are way uptight, and Quentin’s parents, who seem way too chilled out. Also of note: a character actually has a sibling ::gasp:: for the first time I’ve seen so far in the John Green-iverse, Margo’s sister Ruthie, who probably could have contributed more to the plot than she actually did.
Basically, the book can be broken up into three sections: Margo and Quentin’s Night of Shenanigans, Margo Disappears and Apparently This Is Not a Huge Issue, and The Arbitrary But Fun Odyssey.
In Margo and Quentin’s Night of Shenanigans, we meet most of the characters when Margo commandeers Quentin into doing a bunch of shit for her to get back at people. I enjoyed this part, even though, like Quentin, I had no idea what was going on. A little more backstory would have been beneficial, but we learn enough later that it’s not too much of an issue. Then, Margo Disappears and Apparently This Is Not a Huge Issue, well, except to Quentin. Seriously, after a few chapters, even Margo’s parents seem to accept the fact that their daughter, despite being 18 years old, has skipped town before her high school graduation. No one but Quentin is even looking for her. Eventually, he ropes in a crew consisting of Ben, Radar, and this girl Lacey who Margo “got back at” but must be a better person than Margo gives her credit for, because they all ditch their high school graduation on the morning before it happens to take Quentin’s new car on The Arbitrary But Fun Odyssey to track down Margo based on a few clues that may or may not lead them to her. Despite the cringe-worthy second section, this section is actually quite well-written and exciting; the trip merits an hour-by-hour breakdown, in a completely different, travelogue-like style as the quartet make their way up the East Coast in search of their friend. The ending is a bit anti-climactic, but kind of sweet, and ends with enough room for a sequel, should Green ever want to pick it up.
The verdict: much better than An Abundance of Katherines, in every way. More interesting characters, better-thought-out situations, and some of the Mental Floss quirkiness that I would expect from John Green. I’d definitely recommend this as a beach read, or an any day read. Not much else. Thumbs up.
“It’s a penis,” Margo said, “in the same sense that Rhode Island is a state: it may have an illustrious history, but it sure isn’t big.”
This book review has been brought to you by Northwestern University Library, and Rebekah Koontz, of course. I already have next month’s book on the way.