Thoughts on Pages #17: "Paper Towns"

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

cover credit: amazon

It's been a really long while since I've read a book before its movie adaptation came out.

Also, I'd been curious to try a John Green novel out.

Dear reader, here are my thoughts on Paper Towns.


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 Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.

(Synopsis from Goodreads)


My favorite character of the bunch has to be our main protagonist and hero, Quentin, better known as "Q" throughout the story. Not only was he my favorite, but his character development was also my favorite. He's your typical high school guy, but he's endearing, and the way his story panned out made me want to stick with him throughout his story.

More on the supporting cast (including Margo) later.


Florida is such a fun state, and I've been to Orlando quite a few times in my life, so it was fun getting to read about sunny South Florida. It's a vibrant backdrop to such a subtle story. Orlando during the day (especially the metropolitan/tourist areas) contrast the various abandoned buildings that scatter this story. Each abandoned place has individual significance in the plot, which I thought was kind of neat.

Later on, when the story switches settings for a road trip, I got a pretty great picture of those various places as I was reading.

My Thoughts

Okay. I'm not going to spoil the ending, but I may wander into some spoilery territory, since I can't really see myself really getting my thoughts out without at least a couple spoilers. So there you go.

Basically, here are the things I liked about this book:
  • Q's character development
  • The "cute moments" sprinkled throughout the story (mainly the SunTrust Building scene and the SeaWorld dance).
  • The analysis of Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" and how it tied into the plot.
And here are my only complaints:
  • I was not a fan of the profanity. (And I know for a fact that you can have a great story without so much profanity...granted, in this book, it was about PG-13 movie level, but still.)
  • Every. character. in. this. book. is. so. selfish.
Yep. Every character (with the exception of authority, like teachers and police, which was fascinating to me) is self-centered in some way, and to some degree. Even Q, who - bless his heart - was so obsessed with Margo that I was frustrated at him for not being aware of his parents while he was off gallivanting (or straight-up skipping school and lying to his mom about being sick while barely batting an eyelash), or his friends when they succeeded in their own right.

Sure, some of the characters were legitimate jerks, but some of the main supporting cast (I'm talking about Ben, Radar, and especially Margo) weren't necessarily always looking out for others, either. In fact, it's actually pointed out quite a bit in this book how self-absorbed some of them are.

But here's the upside: Q comes to find that once he does reach out beyond himself, he's actually a lot more aware of who his friends and peers are, and, gradually, he's more willing to pursue a normal life as opposed to the more nomadic one that Margo seems to want (based on her childhood history of running away). That's an idea I can stand behind.

But that idea was so clouded by a plot that kinda honestly fell flat for me. While I loved the Walt Whitman parallels, sometimes the story felt deeper than it actually was - a boy looking for his enigmatic crush. Then, it would kinda jump into high-school territory to match its main players, which felt odd against the depth that the plot was wanting to reach.

At the end, I give Paper Towns 3.5 minivans out of 5.

I had originally found out about John Green's work through his YouTube channel, Vlogbrothers, which he runs with his brother, Hank. In fact, I had tweeted a link to his thoughts on adaptations (based on questions he'd gotten about the Paper Towns movie) awhile back, and it's great. I wouldn't mind reading another John Green book sometime in the future, since I did enjoy his writing style. I just want to try a different story.

Have y'all read Paper Towns? What'd you think of it? Are you planning on seeing the movie?

Also, want to see what I'm planning on reading and my reading goal for the year? Check out my Goodreads page! As always, if you have book recommendations for me, feel free to leave them in the comments, too. :)

(P. S.: DFTBA)


  1. 3 minivans out of 5! That's so cute! And I got that reference :) I'm so glad you reviewed this because I've been legitimately curious about this book; one because of the trailer and two because it's John Green and everybody and their dog is raving about John Green and I have yet to read any of his books. I will definitely take these thoughts into account :D

    Chloe | Curious Ramblings

    1. Thanks, Chloe! :D I had heard pretty much the same thing about his work, and I was wanting to check something out of his for myself. The trailer looks pretty good...I may see it or wait till it comes out on DVD or Netflix.