Paper towns by John Green is a realistic, young adult, mystery novel. The book’s well-thought-out and relatable characters make this book one of my all-time favorites. John Green uses humor, imagery, foreshadowing, and symbolism to clasp the reader. The book is centralized around Quentin Jacobsen, who is a senior at a high school in Orlando, Florida. John incorporates humor into the personalities of Quentin and his friends to entertain the reader. John also uses key events at the beginning of the book to foreshadow what is to happen later in the book. He uses discrete details and advanced word choice to help the reader create a mental image of what they are reading. Overall, I found this book very entertaining and I was able to make connections with the protagonist and other leading characters.
Quentin, a somewhat nerdy high school senior has had a crush on his neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, for some time. Margo and Quentin have known each other since childhood, but haven’t spoken since. Quentin had fallen in love with whom he thought was a stereotypical cool girl, up until the midnight she climbed through his bedroom window. Margo needed Quentin as her chauffeur as she got revenge on her ex-boyfriend. As the night came to an end, Quentin felt that he and Margo had formed what would soon become a special bond. He could only wonder what was to come about the next day. A few days passed, and Margo was nowhere to be seen. Margo had disappeared, but this was not unusual. This happened so often that Margo’s parents stopped trying to find her. But, Quentin felt that she had left clues for him, so he began investigating. This book consists of many conflicts(man vs. self, man vs. society, and man vs. man), the main conflict being Quentin’s search for Margo(external). Quentin struggles with his feelings for Margo(internal), but also with finding her whereabouts. Margo did leave clues, but they were difficult to decipher. While reading the book, I myself had similar questions to that of Quentin. Why did Margo run away? Who is the real Margo Roth Spiegelman?
The protagonist in Paper Towns is Quentin, aka Q. Q is an average kid who lives an average life. His friend group consists of band enthusiasts. Unlike his friends, Q doesn’t have many hobbies, neither does he have much of a life outside of school. On the other hand, Margo was a very popular girl known for her unpredictable stories and rebellious behavior. Quentin had always loved Margo, but he knew that the idea of her feeling the same way towards him was impracticable. Yet, the night Margo asked Q to help her avenge her ex-boyfriend, Q began to doubt his doubts. The motivation to find Margo is Quentin’s love for her. But finding her was not that simple. Q had to keep this investigation a secret from his protective parents. With little help, Q and his friends were left to find hidden clues supposedly left behind by Margo. The search for Margo seemed neverending. The first set of clues she left led to an abandoned minimall where she had once camped out, but she had already left, this kind of situation happens on multiple occasions throughout the book. The clues eventually led Q and his friends on an epic road trip to Agloe, New York.
At the start of the book, Quentin is in love with Margo who he sees as just another popular girl. But once Quentin finds her after she went missing, he realizes that he has been in love with a complete stranger. The Margo he had known was merely a “paper girl.” Rather than knowing the real Margo, Q had only known her for what others wanted to see her as. His false perception is shattered at the climax of the book. When Margo’s clues lead to an abandoned and unfinished town in New York, Q and his friends drive there from Florida. Once they find her, she acts bitter towards Q’s friends. Q’s friends were the catalysts of Quentin’s realization that Margo was not who he thought she was. The book expressed the idea that people can seem so predictable from afar, but once you get closer, everything gets so much more complex.
By the end of the book, just like Q, I realized that Margo had run away from home due to the pressure of being a “paper girl.” Her persona was formed by those around her, she simply mirrored others. Therefore, there was no real Margo, even Margo herself didn’t know her true identity. I love this unique theme of false perceptions. I think the author did an exceptional job of showing this theme slowly develop throughout the book. John Green’s ability to use techniques such as foreshadowing and symbolism make this book stand out. I will definitely think about rereading Paper Towns.
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