‘Paper Towns’ by John Green

320p 2010 Bloomsbury UK Borrowed

Ever since Quentin Jacobsen was a kid in Jefferson Park, Orlando, he’s idolised his gorgeous, yet distant neighbour, Margo Roth Spiegelman. Though they played together as children, now in their last year of high school, they never talk. Margo is popular, while Quentin is not. But one spring night when Margo unexpectedly appears in Quentin’s bedroom, and drags him into a whirlwind midnight adventure, Quentin feels that there might actually be a chance of the two becoming closer.

The next day, Margo isn’t in school and after three days Quentin is questioned by a private inspector because Margo has, once again, disappeared from home. Quentin finds clues, small obscure things that he’s convinced she wanted him to find. Over the weeks before graduation, he is obsessed with trying to discover what Margo means with her clues, and ‘paper towns’, which she spoke of to him on their midnight escapade.

His two friends Ben and Radar, and Margo’s childhood friend Lacey, who was pranked on the night Quentin last saw Margo, begin to help him and they visit various places that Quentin thinks Margo might have meant by ‘paper towns’.

 At one deserted run-down building, Quentin finds a map, and on the day of his graduation, he finally connects the dots and realises where Margo might be: Agloe, New York, a non-existent ‘paper town’, one that was planned but never built.

Quentin is certain that Margo wants him to find her, and he wants to sweep her off her feet in a romantic gesture of heroism. Missing their graduation, Ben, Lacey, Radar and Quentin race from Florida to New York on an exciting road-trip to try and reach Margo before she leaves Agloe. Will they find her? And most importantly, does she want to be found?

I was looking forward to reading Paper Towns by John Green, but I’m not sure whether I love it or loathe it. I thought the protagonist, Quentin, was very annoying with his made-up image of a perfect, pretty, Margo Roth Spiegelman. I wanted to bash him over the head sometimes. But then at other times I had to appreciate his devotion (however silly it was) and his kindness. I enjoyed the road-trip and the feeling of comradery between the four teens, but I didn’t quite like the other bits so much; such as when Quentin was obsessed with finding Margo, dropping everything else. The plot was very detailed and philosophical, which I enjoyed, but the general idea, clever, unpopular boy wants to save the pretty, popular, yet a bit messed-up girl from herself, was a bit predictable.

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