By Gia Pilgrim, Assistant Editor
Soon to be a major motion picture, like any fan of literature, I wanted to make sure that I had read Paper Towns before seeing it on the big screen in July 2015. The genre is borderline young adult romance and mystery, focusing on a group of seniors in an Orlando, Florida high school. But more than the enticing plot, it’s the wit and unique charm of the characters that John Green creates that makes the book engaging to all ages.
The two main characters, Quentin Jacobsen and Margo Roth Spiegelman, are neighbors in a suburb in Orlando that Margo declares a “paper town”. Margo is a very untypical popular girl in her high school, whereas Quentin is a nerdy, clever young man who dreams of spending time with Margo, like they did when they were young kids. In John Green’s other novels, such as Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and The Fault in Our Stars the two main characters are very similar to Quentin and Margo. Green tends to create a shimmering, unattainable girl in which a boy spends all his time pining away to understand and figure out the mystery of women or viceversa. I think Green’s tendency to write about similar characters is a genre that works for him, but I was hoping for something brand new.
The book is chock full of wild antics and adventures which gets your heart pumping. There are moments that make you want to grab your closest friends and explore abandoned buildings; it’s these details that really pulled me in and kept me reading all night. Quentin’s character becomes a little uncomfortably obsessed with Margo at one point, which is supposed to add to the dramatic emotion of their relationship—but I understand that without the vast amount of feeling, it wouldn’t work.
In my reading, there was one powerful quote that really summed up the complicated period in every young adult’s life when they have to start living for societal expectations. “It’s a paper town. I mean look at it, Q: look at all those cul-de-sacs, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses that were built to fall apart. All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm. All the paper kids drinking beer some bum bought them at the paper convenience store…I’ve lived here for eighteen years and I have never once in my life comes across anyone who cares about anything that matters” (57-58).
The search for something “real” in high school and college is a relatable feeling, which is why I think the book is so popular. The kids break out of their roles and find meaning in the most unlikely places. The quest for Margo Roth Spiegelman keeps the reader on their toes and will leave you wondering why your life isn’t as exciting as Paper Towns.