Paper Towns: My First John Green Novel

Paper Towns is written by John Green. It was published in 2008 by Dutton. Green’s website can be found here.


“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 he gets, the less he sees the girl he thought he knew.”


So, this is actually the first John Green novel I’ve ever read. To be honest, I’d never even really heard of him until The Fault in Our Stars movie, but I’ve seen how three or more of his books are consistently on the bestseller lists and people reference his books a lot. So, I decided to go ahead and read a couple.

I can see why people praise his books so much. His writing is good and he has that metaphorical imagery that people always like (i.e., “paper towns,” “paper girl”) that gives the book a poetical feel and makes it seem like it’s actually about something important and deep. He also has the poetry of Walt Whitman play a large role, and for the most part, his characters feel like real teenagers (disgusting jokes and all).

He’s also quite the dab hand at writing humorous situations. There is 35 pages towards the end of the book that are purely about a car trip, and it is the most brilliant 35 pages I think I’ve ever read in any YA realistic/contemporary novel.

Also, I thought the issue with Quentin realizing that he was admiring his idea of Margo rather than Margo the actual person was very well done.

BUT (and you knew this was coming)…I found the characters, for the most part, extremely unlikeable with the exception of Radar and Quentin. Ben’s jokes were frankly disgusting and Margo was annoying and basically a huge selfish brat. I despised the ending, and thought that Quentin and Lacey had more chemistry than Quentin and Margo.

I also thought that there was almost no point to the book at all. What was the point of putting all the characters through all that? Okay, I get it, Quentin’s idea of Margo was not actually Margo. That could have been communicated in a short story. There was no point in having Quentin find Margo and there was absolutely no point in having her continue to stay away.

I also just thought the story was plain old boring.

Rating: 2/5

Recommended Age Range: 16+

Warnings: Swearing, sexual situations, sexual jokes, innuendo, underage drinking

Genre: Young Adult, Realistic


So Whitman is stting around (which he calls loafing) on the grass, and then:

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full


How could I answer the child?……I do not know what

            it is any more than he

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful

            green stuff woven.

There was the hope Dr. Holden had talked about—the grass was a metaphor for his hope. But that’s not all. He continues,

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,

A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,

Like grass is a metaphor for God’s greatness or something….

Or I guess the grass is itself a child….

And then soon after that,

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,

And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow


Growing among black folks as among white.

So maybe the grass is a metaphor for our equality and our essential connectedness, as Dr. Holden had said. And then finally, he says of grass,

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

So grass is death, too—it grows out of our buried bodies. The grass was so many different things at once, it was bewildering. So grass is a metaphor for life, and for death, and for equality, and for connectedness, and for children, and or God, and for hope.

~Green 171-173

Overall Review:

The car ride was brilliant, the rest not so much. I get why people like John Green, I really do. But Paper Towns was not my cup of tea. I thought it was mostly pointless and the characters’ behavior, for the most part, was disgusting and inappropriate. But mostly I was bored, and I don’t like to be bored.

You can buy this here: Paper Towns

2 thoughts on “Paper Towns: My First John Green Novel

  1. Pingback: A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty | Leaf's Reviews

  2. Pingback: The Fault In Our Stars: I Still Don’t Know How I Feel About It | Leaf's Reviews

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