Book Review: Paper Towns

“When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.”

From the author of The Fault In Our Stars, John Green, Paper Towns tells the coming-of-age story of Quentin and his enigmatic neighbour, Margo. After taking him on an all-night adventure through their hometown, Margo suddenly disappears, leaving behind cryptic clues for Quentin to decipher.

The search leads Quentin and his friends on an exhilarating adventure to track her down, where Quentin must find a deeper understanding of true friendship and of true love.

The following post is a review of the book only. You can read my review of the film adaptation in comparison to the book here.

Published in 2008, Paper Towns is two things: a heartfelt story about growing up, and an exhilarating adventure motivated by love, friendship, and the desire to push yourself further in an attempt to find out who you really are.

The story explores a set of characters who are at a point in their lives where everything is changing; a time when a teenager is at their most emotional. The end of high school is the end of an era, everything matters a great deal at this point, but with unwanted ends come new beginnings, and in a few months they will all be starting new lives with new friends as they leave for different colleges anyway.

It’s a story about growing up and the different kind of relationships that you have – with your parents, with your friends, and sooner or later with the opposite sex – but this isn’t the kind of book that would be taught about at school, either.

It’s too real – these characters drink, they smoke, they have sex, they get STD’s, they steal, and they sneak out of the house in the middle of the night: all of the things that your parents are glad you weren’t doing when you were younger (only because you never got caught!).

But these characters aren’t bad role models or over-stereotyped: it’s just the way high school is. Some people get through high school by being the popular girl who dates most of the football team, while others spend their time in the band room and go off to college without even had kissed a girl.

Paper Towns teaches you not to judge somebody because of the role they fit into it, and that even if you do think you know somebody well, you may be surprised at the different layers that one person can have.

These stereotypes are honest, and because of that you can really see yourself in these characters, and that’s what makes this such a lovely novel to read. Every naivety or worry or moment of anger that these characters feel, you’ve been there yourself once, too, and for that, it’s a spot-on coming-of-age story.

The ending is a little disappointing when so much leads up to this point, but at the same time – that’s life! There may not technically be any happy ever after’s, but there’s a profound message to be told.

Paper Towns is John Green’s second book to be adapted onto the big screen, which you can read my Book vs. Film Review for here (link), and watch the trailer for below:

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