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Paper Towns

Review

Paper Towns

Quentin Jacobsen (called "Q" by his buddies) believes everybody gets one miracle. His just happens to be living next door to the girl of his dreams, Margo Roth Spiegelman. Margo and Quentin go way back. Even when they were nine years old, Q thought she was the most perfect female on the face of the planet, and they played together in their Pleasantville-like Orlando subdivision. After they found a dead man in the park, Margo appeared outside his window at night to tell him she investigated the dead man. Her diagnosis of why he killed himself: "…all the strings inside him broke…"

Quentin and Margo are now high school seniors. They still live next door to each other but have drifted apart. Quentin is quite the low-key good citizen, while Margo is a true legend. She has learned to play guitar from an old guy in Hot Coffee, Mississippi, traveled with the circus and once maneuvered her way into a famous rock band's backstage gathering.

Prom, finals and graduation loom on the close horizon on what Quentin will call the longest day of his life. Prom is a big discussion in his circle. He is adamantly disinterested in it, but his two best buddies don't share his opinion. Radar will take his new girlfriend, Angela. Ben is frantic to go but has yet to find the right, agreeable "honeybunny."

Quentin is distracted from the discussion when he spies Margo talking with her boyfriend, Jase. He is struck by the way she is laughing, with her mouth stretched wide, and gazing away from Jase. She seems to be staring at her friend Becca. As Quentin strolls nearer, he realizes she isn't really laughing but her mouth continues to remain wide open.

The rest of the day continues on as usual. Q watches the clocks in class and laughs at Ben's life goal (to be in the GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS for the "Most Honneybunnies Ever Pleased"). He commiserates with Radar when Angela wonders why she has never been invited to his house. Little does she know that Radar's parents own the world's largest collection of black Santas --- a fact that causes Radar no end of humiliation.

In the evening, Quentin sticks to his usual routine. But his life turns on a dime that night when Margo opens his bedroom window to invite him on an all-night adventure, which turns out to be the most terrifying, thrilling and eye-opening event he ever could hope to experience. When it ends, he pays almost no attention to what Margo says as she hugs him: "I. Will. Miss. Hanging. Out. With. You." His mind is too abuzz with the possibilities of their future relationship, and he’s planning what he'll say to her the next day at school. But Margo doesn't show up, and it isn't long before Quentin realizes that not only has she vanished, she has left him clues as to what's become of her.

Quentin cannot resist the challenge. His obsession with finding Margo takes him for a wild road trip that leads to bizarre destinations, including deserted strip malls and abandoned housing developments. But his most unexpected discovery is what he finds within himself.

This gripping page-turner from Printz Medalist John Green (author of LOOKING FOR ALASKA and AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES) is both hilarious and thought-provoking. Quentin is an appealing Everyman who manages to become a hero, yet nothing is ever quite as the reader might expect. The plot twists and turns, pulling us in as we careen toward the unpredictable and satisfying conclusion. Very highly recommended.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on October 16, 2008

Paper Towns
by John Green

  • Publication Date: September 22, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Speak
  • ISBN-10: 014241493X
  • ISBN-13: 9780142414934