Paper Towns: A Review


Not many people my age prefer reading John Green’s books terming them childish and clichéd. While I agree that the storyline of all his books is more or less the same—a geeky boy has a crush on an unattainable girl, whose best friends seem more interesting than our geeky boy—but there is something about his writing style that makes the readers fall in love with him. As for calling his books childish, when you sit back to relax after a tiring day at work, Green’s books offer you nothing but pure solace.

Coming back to my recent read Paper Towns is a story about Quentin Jacobson and his next door neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman. Once best friends, they soon grow up and realize how different they are from each other, and go on living their independent lives. Until one night, Margo knocks at his bedroom window and asks him to accompany her on a trip of revenge.

That night they reconnect, and Quentin begins to think from the next day things might be different between him and Margo.

“And I wanted to tell her that the pleasure for me wasn’t planning or doing or leaving; the pleasure was in seeing our strings cross and separate and then come back together.” 

But Margo never shows up at school. Her family doesn’t seem too concerned because this isn’t the first time Margo has pulled an invisibility act. Once she even left bread crumbs as clues. How Quentin goes about looking for her is where the plot proceeds.

One thing that I like about Paper Towns is that it not focuses on each and every character but also on how different people have different opinion about one specific thing. Nobody has any idea about Margo’s real personality. But the book isn’t about her, who like every teenager has her issues, nor is it about Quentin and his love for Margo. Filled with many interesting anecdotes, this book is a sort of a quest.

There is an incident in a book where the literature teacher asks students to write an essay on Captain Ahab from Moby Dick. The question is—is Captain Ahab a tragic hero for fighting a battle knowing that he will never win or a fool who is obsessed with the whale.

When Quentin in his report defines Captain Ahab as heroic, you realize that it is an exact reflection of his actions. On his quest to find Margo, what he finds is himself even without realizing it. And it is this that makes this novel more interesting.

Without delving into too many technical details and ruining the whole mood, I am leaving you some quotes from the book:

“When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.” 

“I’m starting to realize that people lack good mirrors. It’s so hard for anyone to show us how we look, & so hard for us to show anyone how we feel.” 

“Isn’t it also that on some fundamental level we find it difficult to understand that other people are human beings in the same way that we are? We idealize them as gods or dismiss them as animals.”

Now its for you to decide, you want to give this books a read a not. I would suggest you definitely should.

Shraddha Jandial 

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