Well hello again!
Last year I realized that I hadn’t read any of John Green’s books. So I quickly went to my public library and grabbed the audiobook of An Abundance of Katherines. I didn’t like it. In fact I didn’t finish it. But I continued to hear people talking, writing, and tweeting about how much I needed to read his books! So I picked Paper Towns. I liked this one much better.
Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life – dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge – he follows. After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues – and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer Q gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew.
So, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book. I was pretty much hooked from the start of the book. I mean, starting a story off with a dead body is always a good hook, right?! Well, yes! It is! And I had no idea that this book was actually a mystery at its heart, which was kinda cool!
The main thing I enjoyed about Paper Towns is that is set in Orlando, particularly the Baldwin Park (Jefferson Park in the book) area, which I live incredibly close to. In fact, Q and his friends all attend Winter Park High School, which I jog by frequently as it’s a 5 min jog from my house! Pretty stinkin’ cool! I love stories set in places I’ve been to, but books about where I live are even better!
So, let’s talk characters. I really liked Q and could totally relate to him and his friends. He is a rule follower by nature who doesn’t like to take chances (sounds like we have some similarities!) and has an awesome sense of humor. So, yeah I liked Q. He grows and changes as a character throughout the story. I don’t quite know if I liked Margo Roth Spiegelman. Actually, I’m not sure if the reader is supposed to like her at all. She is so selfish and narcissistic. This girl has obvious mental health issues but has seemingly no intention of getting healthy. But at the same time she is adventurous and exciting and completely charming. No wonder Q is drawn to her. My confusion towards Margo had no affect on my enjoyment of the story though. It’s a good story.
So, what did have an effect on my enjoyment of Paper Towns? Okay. Here we go. The use of the “R word”. On multiple occasions. For those of you unsure of what the “R word” is, it’s the use of the word “retard(ed)” in a derogatory way. So why does this have an effect on my enjoyment? Well, “when ‘retard’ or ‘retarded’ are used…as synonyms for ‘dumb’ or ‘stupid’ by people without disabilities, it only reinforces painful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities as being less valued members of humanity” (r-word.org). Coming across this word in Paper Towns, was incredibly disappointing and distracting for me. I still liked the book (although definitely less than I would have had it not been used) and I don’t believe that John Green is a bad person or anything like that, I am just deeply hurt and bothered by such an accomplished (and awarded) author’s use of this hateful word.
All in all, Paper Towns is most definitely a YA novel and I would only recommend it to older middle school readers and up, but like I said before, it’s a good story and an enticing mystery. I wouldn’t say that I loved it (and I definitely didn’t dislike it!) but hey! At least I’ve finally read a John Green novel!