I’m not really a huge fan of YA but my daughter keeps pushing John Green on me so I figured I better start reading his work or she’s going to stop speaking to me. I did (mostly) enjoy The Fault in Our Stars last month so decided to grab Paper Towns when I found it unabridged at my library. This book is not a retread of that grueling material (thankfully) but more of a follow the really vague clues type of mystery. I’ll state up front that I’m not good at clues or puzzles so I had trouble figuring out how they got from point A to point B. I know, that’s completely my issue.
Quentin and Margo have lived across from each other since they were little kids. They grew up as friends and drifted apart somewhere in middle school as kids do. Now they’re high school seniors. Margo is beautiful, adventurous and hangs with the popular crowd. Quentin is just an average boy. He has friends and is liked well enough but he’s not exactly Margo material. So when she comes knocking on his bedroom window late one night dressed up like a ninja and basically demanding that he drive her around to exact some revenge on her current group of friends, well, how can he possibly resist? Margo needs him and he secretly lusts/loves/longs for her though he’ll never admit it out loud. After this night is over, he hopes she’ll acknowledge his existence in school and his senior year will be unforgettable. They have an action packed night, she wreaks her vengeance and Quentin finds himself going along with all of her crazy ideas because his heart hasn’t pumped like this in probably forever.
I adored the opening series of events that starts this book. Quentin and Margo have a good dynamic going and their thoughts and dialogue came across as real (which is the only problem I had with Green’s beloved “The Fault In Our Stars”) and it was relatively and refreshingly pretty much angst free.
After their adventure filled night Quentin looks forward to a closer friendship with Margo but soon realizes it is not going to happen. Margo is long gone and has left behind a few very vague clues for Quentin to piece together which is how he spends most of the rest of the book. Looking for Margo, thinking about Margo and enlisting a few of his friends (one who I found super annoying) in the search for Margo. Le sigh. Most of the magic was gone then, along with Margo and it was here that the book lost most of my interest too.
Still I soldiered on and I finished. Oh the things I do for my kid.
I’m giving this one a 3 and ½ mostly for its fantastic start and some fun dialogue. Though the ending felt real and I can appreciate that, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it left me a bit unsatisfied after all of the pages leading up to it . . . and that’s all I’m saying about that.
Narration Notes: Dan John Miller does very well with Quentin’s dialogue as well as Margo’s. But why, oh god why, does he have to scream out every line Q’s best friend utters with super over done enthusiasm? Why, why, why? I swear “honey bunnies” the next town over could probably hear his voice leaking out of my headphones. I cringed whenever that too excitable kid popped up on the scene because I knew my ears were about to hate me. He does however have one of my favorite lines from the book:
“Dude, I don’t want to talk about Lacey’s prom shoes. And I’ll tell you why: I have this thing that makes me really uninterested in prom shoes. It’s called a penis.”