Paper Towns by John Green is the third book by the author whose tragic novel The Fault in Our Stars stayed on top of the New York Times Bestseller List for 49 weeks on end. It follows Quentin Jacobsen, a high school senior from Orlando whose life has been spent next door to the mysterious Margo Roth Spiegelman, a girl with a propensity for disappearing and carefully leaving behind clues as to where she’s run off to. One night she climbs in his window and asks him for help on a brilliant escapade of revenge, and he tags along. After their all night campaign of destruction, Quentin (or Q) arrives at school and finds that Margo is no longer there. He enlists the help of his friends Radar and Ben to help him follow her scarce hints and find where Margo Roth Spiegelman might have hid herself- even though as they seem to get closer, she seems to be farther away.
This novel is Green’s under-appreciated masterpiece, raw and gripping at every turn. The characters were far from the average trite, two-dimensional high school kids found in too many young adult books- Q, Ben, Margo, Lacey, and Radar (whose parents hilariously own the world’s largest collection of black Santas) are written with real depth and a surprising realism. They suffer from the same stresses and expectations all teenagers do, and they manage to be funny but very thoughtful, and deeply moving. Green makes you feel Q’s anguish and fear as the reader’s own, he makes you feel the giddy high of the night of revenge and the heartbreak of the concluding pages.
It is a soon to be major motion picture, and it needs to be read by anyone with a love for young adult fiction. It proves to be one of the books you can fall into and not return from until you have flipped closed the back cover, and it deserves easily its five stars.
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