Sunday, May 3, 2015

Paper Towns // Book Review

Even though I started reading this book over a month ago, I read 2/3 of it within the last 24 hours. Once you get going, it's a bit hard to stop, even when finals are approaching and your free time in sparse. I really wanted to get this finished before the movie comes out this summer, so yay! Accomplished goals!

So, I actually bought my copy of Paper Towns before I knew who John Green was (I think I had read Looking for Alaska, but didn't realize it was by the same author) or anything about the plot, the hype, etc. I picked it up at a book fair during high school, thought it looked interesting, and paid $9.99 for it. That seems ages ago now. It's been sitting on my book shelf for at least five years, untouched and unread. 

Things I liked about Paper Towns:

1) cover. 
Just look at it! It's gorgeous. Seriously one of my favorite covers ever.

2) characters
I'm thinking about changing my name to Margo. Or, just having people start calling me Margo (my middle name is Margaret...it's not too far of a stretch). I loved the way she was portrayed through most of the book, as this mysterious, super smart and troubled girl. I loved the way that peopled called her by her full name, Margo Roth Spiegelman. But I didn't really like her so much as I liked the idea of her.

The other characters were okay, too--I didn't feel too strongly about Q or Ben, but I really liked Radar and Lacey was fine. I liked how they were just regular people, and how they pretty much spoke and acted just like high school teenagers would.

3) road trip
(Okay, since this doesn't occur until Part Three of the book, some might think it is a spoiler, but it's all over the trailer so I don't feel too bad about talking about it.)
I usually don't like road trips (in real life and in fiction), and I especially didn't care for the one in An Abundance of Katherines, but this one was great. It was exciting and joyful and made you feel in the moment, like you were in the backseat riding along with the rest of them. To me, it was one of the best parts of the book. Made me want to be spontaneous and go on one. =)

4) literary references
Problem solved...live in the NOW...      John Green, Paper Towns www.facebook.com/loveswish
There was a lot of Walt Whitman, which I know is something that John Green talks about in his vlogbrothers videos a lot...is there too much Whitman? No, I don't think so. I think it added more depth to the story. It gave it more meaning. Even though I don't really like Whitman, I thought "Song of Myself" went great with this story. And it's a great way to introduce young readers to the literary world.

Also quoted: T. S. Eliot, Sylvia Plath, and Emily Dickinson.
[Currently fangirling.]

5) theme
There are actually several themes in Paper Towns, but the main thing I took away from it is this: You cannot fully imagine or understand everything that makes up a person. You can listen to them. You can try to get inside their heads, but ultimately human beings are so complex and there are so many things that make them up that it is impossibly to ever truly comprehend someone. This is an interesting concept, especially in the context of characters in novels. When I read this book, I image Margo and Q and Radar and Ben and everyone else a certain way, and my version of them is wholly unique. No one else knows the same Margo as I do. But my Margo isn't the Margo--I don't create who she is, I simply have my own idea about who she is. And even though she's a fictional character, this theme is still applicable. That fascinates me.

6) writing

Like all John Green books, this one was highly quotable. Some of the ones I underlined:

It was nice--in the dark and the quiet, with no possibility of me saying anything to screw it up, and her eyes looking back, like there was something in me worth seeing.

"I didn't need you, you idiot. I picked you. And then you picked me back." Now she looked at me. "And that's like a promise."

When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours.

It is saying these things that keeps us from falling apart. And maybe by imagining these futures we can make them real, and maybe not, but either way we must imagine them.

Things that I did not like about Paper Towns:

1) action (or lack thereof)

Part One had a lot of action. Part Three had a fair amount. But Part Two? I felt like nothing happened. Except instant messaging and boys playing video games. I pretty much lost interest until Part Three came along.

2) ending
It was disappointing! Things didn't happen like I wanted or expected them to. That said, the last few paragraphs were okay, and I really liked the last line. 

3) cliche teenage life

*rolls eyes* Alcohol! Sex! Lying to parents! Sneaking out!
Why do all YA books portray teenage life this way? And why do they celebrate it?

4) obsession

I like Q for the most part, but his character was a bit too obsessed with Margo. He never thinks about anything else! He gets to the point where he starts fighting with his friends about it. And the worst part is that this is never addressed. He must be obsessed because he truly loves Margo--that makes everything okay, right? *sigh*

5) similarity


This book seemed a lot like John Green's first novel, Looking for Alaska. I don't think the characters were quite the same, but the premise was nearly identical. And even though I liked that it wasn't as dark as Looking for Alaska, the problem is that it also did not have the emotion that Looking for Alaska does. I wasn't really invested in the story. I didn't feel what the characters felt. It didn't puncture my heart or anything; it was simply a good story.

Overall, I'd settle on 3.5 stars. It was good, but didn't blow me away. I liked it more than An Abundance of Katherines, but not more than Looking for Alaska or The Fault in Our Stars.

~~~
Next up on the reading list:
18631568
I borrowed this weeks ago and now I'm finally going to get the time to read it. Yay!!

Afterwards...I'm not sure. Here's what I'm thinking about:
18007564I Never Promised You a Rose Garden  Alice and the Fly

Which ones do you think I should read next? Or do you have any other suggestions?
~~~

P.S. If you haven't seen the Paper Towns trailer, here you go:

--Emily