Saturday, September 20, 2014

"Paper Towns" by John Green

This is the first John Green book I've ever read -- my thanks to Hannah for her review of this on her blog, Reading in the Dark!  She made it sound very interesting, and so I picked it up from the library.  And I'm glad I did!  Green has a definite talent for capturing the way teen life works, at least from what I remember.  I never went to a public high school, so my experiences were not exactly like those portrayed here.  However, much of what his characters think and feel definitely strikes me as very much how I used to think and feel.

So the story revolves around a kid named Quentin, who has had a crush on the girl next door since they were toddlers.  She's popular and inscrutable, while he hangs out with band geeks and wears his heart on his sleeve.  And yet, she chooses him to go on a wild night of righting various wrongs within their high school sphere.  And then she disappears, just a few weeks before they were supposed to graduate.

Quentin enlists his friends to help him figure out why she left, where she went, and whether or not she's even still alive, and that makes up the bulk of the story.  

If this was a movie, I would cast a slightly younger Nicholas Hoult as Quentin, and someone like Julia Stiles to play Margo, the girl who disappears.  That's who I envisioned while I was reading this, anyway.

As far as YA fiction goes, this is remarkably hopeful.  No horrible fates crashing down on people as adulthood looms, no dystopian world full of menace, no dreadful consequences for doing things like driving all night long while hopped up on energy drinks or breaking into amusement parks.  By the end, I did wish there had been a few more consequences for people's actions, but I also love characters being happy and not in trouble, so this didn't hinder my liking of the book any.

Particularly Good Bits:

It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined (p. 257).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  a hard PG-13 for discussions of minors having sex, drinking alcohol, and engaging in reckless activities.

This is my 15th book read and reviewed for the I Love Library Books challenge!

10 comments:

  1. Fantastic review! And Julia Stiles would be a perfect Margo, although she might be a little old for the role now. I'm not familiar enough with younger actresses to make a suggestion, so I'll just agree. Love her. And I love the quote you picked! I'm glad you liked the book!

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    1. Thanks! It was really a cool book. Some of the most believable teen characters I've read.

      Yeah, Julia Stiles is way too old now, but back in the '90s when she was doing things like 10 Things I Hate About You, she would've been perfect. Nicholas Hoult is too old too, though he might manage to pull it off still, being "only" 26.

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  2. I haven't read this book, yet, but I've read "The Fault In Our Stars" and "An Abundance of Katherines". Both of them were great. Not only does Green seem to have an understanding of how teens think and feel, he understands how parents of teens think and feel - at least in TFIOS. My oldest daughter and I heard him speak at our public library and he was excellent.

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    1. I was not particularly impressed by the parents in this, but they really weren't in it much. Not that they were badly written, they just didn't figure in the story a lot.

      That's so cool that you got to hear Green speak! I can imagine he's got a lot of thought-provoking things to say.

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  3. Ah, I love John Green's writing style, and would love to read every single one of his novels, except that I worry that The Fault in Our Stars was his most appropriate one, and it still bothered me at times. But you make it sound not too terrible in that department, and like a good read otherwise, so maybe I'll give it a shot sometime. It is being made into a movie, after all... ;)

    Great review Hamlette!

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    1. I haven't read TFIOS. I'm not sure what you're worried about for content, I can tell you there are no written-out sex scenes in Paper Towns, but the protagonist is a teenage guy and he does talk and think about sexual things. There's some bad language. Teens drink alcohol. I would let my kids read it when they were like 17 or so.

      I didn't know it was being made into a movie! Interesting.

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    2. I did go to a public school and didn't participate in the drinking or sexual habits of Green's characters, but I knew people who did things like what he represents. Maybe it's just me, but when something is presented in a realistic way, I don't mind it. I read books with drugs and things mentioned in them when I was in high school, but the books also showcased real dangers from drug use, and I felt more informed and prepared for the "real world" by reading them. But this book isn't that bad in the appropriate sense, so I'm just talking too much. Sorry.

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    3. I knew people who engaged in behaviors like this when I was in college, and yes, I found them pretty realistic. I like that Green doesn't glorify these behaviors, and in fact shows some of the consequences of teen sex, cheating on people, and so on.

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  4. I tried The Fault in Our Stars and didn't like it. So I've been quite hesitant to think about reading another of his. But maybe someday I'll try this one! :)

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    1. I kind of would like to reread this one, to see how it holds up now that I know how it ends. I did quite like it.

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