Author: John Green
Buy this book: Amazon (UK) / Amazon (US) / Book Depository
Who is the real Margo? Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificent, adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she opens his bedroom window late one night and summons him to join her on an ingenious campaign of revenge - he follows. After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to find that Margo has not. Always an enigma, she now becomes a mystery and Q soon learns that there are clues to be following in his search for Margo.
This is my second John Green book and I wish I could say that I absolutely loved it. But I didn't. I read The Fault in Our Stars and I really enjoyed that one, although it wasn't an amazing 5/5 read for me. I hear so much praise and love for John Green, so I really wanted to try more from him to see if those books blew me away and impressed me as much as they seemed to impress everyone else. I didn't find that to be the case with Paper Towns, in fact, I ended up enjoying it less than The Fault in Our Stars.
The story follows Q, a boy who is in love with Margo Roth Spiegelman and has been since they were children. They spend one crazy night together, and the next day Margo disappears. She leaves little clues behind that Q follows in order to track her down. The story IS Margo Roth Spiegelman, which I wouldn't mind if I found her to be an interesting and likeable character. She isn't. Q is actually obsessed with her and in all honesty...
She is a frustrating and annoying character. Q builds her up to Manic Pixie Dream Girl status, and whilst the book seems to be trying to break apart that notion, it sticks to her. She's perfect to everyone. If I had to hear Q idolise that girl one more time I swear I was going to lose my mind. And whilst she goes on and on about how she isn't that girl, she isn't who they have made her up to be, she is still frustrating, annoying and completely unlikeable. She uses Q, knowing that he won't say no to her. She runs away, but leaves clues for Q, but doesn't want him to find her... apparently. And she doesn't consider anybody else's feelings or emotions. I hated her. I hated Q for liking her. And I wanted to throttle Q for being unable to shut up about her. And then I wanted to throttle him again for thinking that everyone else needed to be as obsessed by the Margo 'mystery' as he was,
Me every time Q starts talking about Margo:
My other reason that I struggled so much with this book is the fact I just couldn't seem to connect to the characters or the story. None of it felt real. Yes, I know this is a work of fiction, but the author should bring his world and characters to life. This doesn't, it feels like the life is taken out of them more and more as the book goes on. The characters never felt real to me. It's hard for them to feel real when they all sound like motivational posters. When all the characters are speaking in deep and meaningful metaphors, it starts to feel like nothing they are saying is actually deep and meaningful. It's ridiculous how every single character is always spewing these deep, meaningful, thought-provoking, quotable sentences. It's not realistic. People don't always talk like that. And not every single person you come into contact with will. Q talks like it, Margo does, their friends do, Q's parents and not to mention the police officer who loves balloon metaphors. I think The Incredibles sums this up best:
This is how I felt about John Green's characters. When they're all so extra special and incredible, none of them actually feel it. They don't feel real, they never feel real to me. They feel like they are how John Green wishes people were, but don't read like real people to me and that stops me from enjoying the book.
The saving grace for me is when they went on the road trip. It was the first time that Q stops constantly obsessing over Margo and talking about her non-stop. He actually spends time with his friends and they act like actual teenagers for once. I found the road trip section absolutely hilarious and thoroughly enjoyed it, it saved this book for me.
I don't hate the book, but I didn't really enjoy it either. It's a very quick read and you can breeze through it in no time, I just wish I'd loved it as much as everyone else seems to. Is there anybody else who struggles with John Green's characters? Sometimes it just feels real pretentious and I'm not sure why. I just wish his characters felt more real to me. Would you recommend trying Looking for Alaska?