** This review will contain slight spoilers for the end of the novel **
I will start off by admitting that originally I didn’t want to read any of John Green’s novels because he is so loved, almost over-hyped by all the “nerd-fighters” and I was afraid that I wouldn’t like his novels, wouldn’t see why his books were so great. However, I ended up loving The Fault in Our Stars once I finally read it. But I can’t say the same thing about Paper Towns.
Paper Towns is about a teen named Quentin Jacobsen who is in love with his neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman. They have barely spoken to each other in a decade when Margo climbs into Q’s bedroom at night to take him on an all-night revenge-exacting adventure. The next day, she disappears. Q believes he’s meant to find her and that she’s leaving him clues telling him where she is. Add in some sarcastic guy friends, and your typical popular kid tropes, and well you’ve got all the characters.
The more I think about this book, the more I end up disliking it. The first half of the book is great and I did enjoy this half. But you continue reading, and every time Quentin was speaking, I kept thinking why is he so annoying? why does he think he’s better than everyone? He is probably one of the most self-involved characters that I’ve read about and I usually try to defend characters, but I just cannot with this one. Quentin is one of those typical “geeky-but-cute-but-hates-everything-related-to-high-school-characters” and you just get more annoyed with him as a whole. He hates prom, and the idea of prom, and that his friends who have girlfriends even want to go to prom. UGH, he’s just so self-righteous the entire book.
A lot of the second half of the book is him being alone and trying to analyze clues that he believes Margo left for him, and I would just crave for another part where there was more conversation involved because he seemed less annoying than. He’s actually a horrible best friend to his friends, Ben and Radar. He doesn’t even really know Radar has a girlfriend and never asks questions to them and just expects them to drop everything to help him look for Margo who probably never spoke to Ben or Radar ever.
And Ben does not even really start off as a likeable character to me. He refers to the freshman girls as “honeybunnies” and is quite douchey it seems for that first half of the book, but then his character as some development when he does start to develop real feelings for a girl.
And this is kind of my whole issue with Quentin; is that there is no character development for him at all. The entire novel all he cares about is this girl that is A) reckless in her life and others and; B) has not physically spoken to him in a decade but he still thinks that somehow finding her will make her fall in love with him like that’s what he deserves for doing so. The thought of that like he deserves something for maybe finding her is a really big reason why I can’t stand him.
John Green tries to cover up this misogynistic idea with Quentin trying to realize that Margo is supposed to be more than this pretty face that he’s been in love with, but the idea of this always seems to falter in each chapter. It’s like he knows he’s supposed to like Margo as more than this neighbor girl that he fell in love with when he was eight, but he never actually reaches that point where he sees her as a human being with feelings that don’t revolve around him.
Margo Roth Speigelman is not as bad as Quentin, but still kind of a crappy character. She conducts these revenge-plots on her boyfriend who is cheating on her with one of her best friends, and decides to use that whole night to rip apart people who actually care for her, and not just Quentin’s obsession with her.
For example, she thinks her friend Lacey, who has been friends with her since kindergarten is actually horrible because she says passive aggressive things about her body. And yes, while that is horrible, she completely writes her off as a friend because of this and exacts some revenge on her for this. But Lacey isn’t horrible. I mean, she ends up going on a 24 hour road trip with Ben, Radar and Quentin (people she barely knows) to find her.
In the end, when they do locate Margo, Margo is actually surprised and horrified that they found her. Like why would they ever go looking for her? And treats Lacey horribly for having feelings for Ben. She actually laughs in her face.
I don’t want to spoil too much of the ending, so I’ll just leave it at that.
But, I really enjoyed TFioS so I was hoping that Paper Towns would kind of have that same young love feeling to it, but both the characters were pathetic in their own ways and annoying as hell.
2.5/5 Only because there were some funny parts with the minor characters.