Friday, September 11, 2015

[Review + Movie] Paper Towns by John Green

Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 01/10/2008
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 305
Source: Gift (Box Set)
Genre: YA - Contemporary (14+)

Violence | Sexual ContentProfanity
My Rating: 

Solid read

My thoughts

The Book

I go in writing this book review with anxiety, because it is another case where I didn't actually write any notes so I'm just going to write off the top of my head, which also means I'll be pulling things out of my ass. But. Luckily I did discuss this book out loud and over text message so I've at least got my feelings sorted out. It's just a matter of getting it all out in a fairly comprehensible way...

I have to preface this by saying that I'm a fan of John Green. I appreciate, support and am constantly inspired by his vision and all that he's doing, and all that he's done, with Nerdfighteria. I adored The Fault In Our Stars, and would religiously praise its genius--even if locked up in a guillotine and the only way to be freed would be to sell this book out, all I would say is, "Chop my head off, good sir!" Heh. Anyway. So, there is obviously risk of bias here, which I have tried to keep to a minimum. I gave this book a 3.5 stars because while it was full of some really good and meaningful messages, it could have been more; and the characters generally came across as flat and irritating at times. Despite that, I sped through this book fairly quickly (just over a week-- a feat in my reading slump days). It was an absorbing read, because I wanted to know WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO MARGO ROTH SPIEGELMAN! Also, the fact that I have marked over 10 different quotes with post-its during my reading of Paper Towns speaks volumes...

Smart and awkward Quentin 'Q' Jacobsen has lived out his high school years watching his childhood friend, neighbour and crush, Margo Roth Spiegelman, from afar. Ever an enigma and the hottest topic of discussion, she would be reported to have done the next crazy thing or other. Until one night, she sneaks into his bedroom inviting him to join her in a revenge plot, aka. "The Best Night Of Your Life". After one magical night, so crazy and glorious, Margo disappears. This is not the first time, so no one is all that concerned... except Q, and neither Prom nor Graduation will stand in the way of his finding her.

I admit to being a hopeless romantic, so the story of Q and Margo really drew me in. True to form, Q lets his obsession and practically lifelong love and longing for Margo utterly consume him, such that he becomes quite single-minded and selfish to the needs of his closest friends Radar and Ben. Sound familiar? It's not all that uncommon, but in a novel it became quite grating and frustrating when Q would not listen to reason and would instead berate his friends for Not. Supporting. Him. His best friends Radar and Ben, as well as the other characters (whose names evade me now) didn't speak out to me loudly or genuinely enough for me to really care for them, but they had their moments. One such scene that I can recall is the bathtub scene (which they ruined in the movie imo).

This is a funny book. I liked the many quirks, quips and moments exchanged between characters. And it is a relatively light read that highlights some iconic and important moments teenagers undergo as they near the end of high school life. Despite my gripes with this book I look toward it with sincere fondness; while it could have been more, for me it still served as a nice portrayal of teenagers doing things. The shenanigans and adventures they go through together have proven to be quite memorable, as I can still recall many-- the exploration of the abandoned warehouse, and the night Q spends there while his friends go to a high school party; the road trip (of course); the night with Margo (duh)... Paper Towns is quite a bittersweet story, but it is, I guess, true to life. I'm not going to go into the selfish nature of Margo, because I'm not the sort of person to do so. Maybe it's because on some level I can understand. I may not agree with her methods, but I understand. For me that's enough.

The Movie

I knew going in that I would say something about the movie. I mean, I read Paper Towns in anticipation of the film adaptation. But. I'm not a movie buff by ANY stretch of the imagination (a mark of a good movie for me is if I DID NOT FALL ASLEEP THROUGH IT...), so I'll keep this sweet and simple.

I liked it. It drew most of the greatest moments from the book and brought it to the big screen in a generally satisfying way. One thing I missed sorely was Sea World. That One Night is so special to me, and I wanted it to be done with justice. (It plays out a million times better in my imagination.)

They also brought along Angela to the road trip, an amendment that shocked me. When she came along with them, I shout-whispered to my bf, "THAT WASN'T IN THE BOOK!!!" I thought it was unnecessary, but I don't care enough to discuss this point further. (My failure as a movie reviewer is showing!)

All of the important things are still there. I think the casting was just fine. I rarely if ever fuss over casting as long as the acting is decent. I would give the movie 4 stars. It stands on its own and is entertaining. The shallowness of the characters certainly doesn't show as obviously. It is highly likely I will even watch it again in the future!


"'That's always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people would want to be around someone because they're pretty. It's like picking your breakfast cereals based on color instead of taste. (37)

"'How was making out with my leg?'
'Pretty good,' I said, which was true. [...]
'I shaved this morning for precisely this reason. I was like, 'Well, you never know when someone is going to clamp down on your calf and try to suck out the snake poison.' (75)

"'...You know your problem, Quentin? You keep expecting people not to be themselves. I mean, I could hate you for being massively unpunctual and for never being interested in anything other than Margo Orth Spiegelman, and for, like, never asking me about how it's going with my girlfriend--but I don't give a shit, man, because you're you. My parents have a shit ton of black Santas, but that's okay. They're them. I'm too obsessed with a reference Wet site to answer my phone sometimes when my friends call, or my girlfriend. That's okay, too. That's me. You like me anyway. And I like you. You're funny, and you're smart, and you may show up late, but you always show up eventually.' (194)

"There are so many people. It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined. (257)

"...this girl who was an idea that I loved.
And it is only now, when she closes her notebook and places it inside a backpack next to her and then stands up and walks toward us, that I realise that the idea is not only wrong but dangerous. What a treacherous thing it is to believe that a person is more than a person. (282)

I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

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