“I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.”
I haven’t read a whole lot of John Green, but I like the way he turns the boy-meets-girl YA trope into something you don’t feel embarrassed to have read. He has a way of pouring a bit of edge and cool onto what could be sappy and pastel-clouded in the hands of someone else, while still retaining that all important sentimentality that makes you long for stolen glances in school hallways past. You only need to skim the blurb on the back cover to know that Paper Towns has this recipe down pat.
Quentin Jacobsen, who also goes by the ever so funky (do the kids still say that?) abbreviated nickname, Q, has been in love with the same unattainable girl since childhood. One Margo Roth Spiegelman. Of course, she of the most impressively unsuburban of suburban names, hardly shows and interest in him. Then one night she climbs through his window in a very Dawson’s Creek fashion and declares him her partner in pursuit of revenge on several classmates who have wronged her. But the next morning, Margo is missing. She’s run away before, but this time is different. This time it feels final. And Q – his fluttering heart beating with young love and gallant endeavours – sets out to find her, following a set of cryptic clues Margo left behind. As he unravels the clues, Q learns a thing or two about putting unattainable girls on pedestals and getting one’s heart broken in the process.
I liked this book. The characters are nerdy-cool, the dialogue witty, and even though the plot is a bit of an eye-roller, I rather fancy the idea of a love-struck boy setting out to save his first love from whatever peril he pictures her to be in. But… as is my glass-half-empty way, I also smirked shrewdly at the touch of conceit to both Margo’s knack for drama, as well as Q’s rose coloured glasses brand of heroism. Still, I enjoyed having my inner teenaged heart ripped to shreds along with Q’s. His journey to find Margo turns into quite an adventure complete with abandoned buildings and a near-death experience, and there’s a grand lesson there about people and situations not being what they seem. I also have to add that those clues mentioned before, are really quite clever.
No one writes this type of YA quite like John Green does. It will definitely make you laugh, maybe shed a tear, and it has that slivering shadow of darker adult emotion and actions to it if you read just deep enough. You might just finish this one in a single sitting. A word of caution: please avoid the train wreck movie adaptation. Margo and Q’s story needs to be read to be appreciated.