Sunday, February 6, 2011

Paper Towns

When Quentin was 9 years old, he was best friends with his neighbor, Margo. One day, the two went to the park. Underneath a tree, they find a man that has shot himself in the head. Quentin remembers that he took a step back while Margo took a step forward. This defines them as people. Quentin steps away from adventure and danger while Margo charges toward it.

After that day in the park, Quentin and Margo drift apart. One day a few weeks before graduation, though, Margo knocks on Quentin's bedroom window. She wants to go on an adventure. Now. There is a lengthy and detailed plan for this night. Quentin is not surprised by Margo's plan--she is notorious for running off for a few days--but he is shocked to be included. Margo is ranks about him in the social hierarchy of their high school. She has all but ignored him for years. And now, she needs him and his mom's mini-van.

Margo and Quentin spend a wild night together getting revenge on people. Margo has just discovered that her boyfriend has been sleeping with her best friend. There are broken windows and fish hidden in closets and clothing stolen from a naked cheating boyfriend. The night ends with Margo taking Quentin to the top of a building in downtown Orlando to look out over the city. Margo leaves Quentin with a cryptic message about paper towns and needing to escape.

The next day, Margo isn't at school. No surprise. They were out until all hours of the night. (How old does that make me sound?) Margo's car is gone, though. And her parents show up at Quentin's house. Q, as his friends call him, has therapists for parents. The contradiction is obvious. Where Q's parents are concerned about Margo's whereabouts and what caused her to peace out like she did. Margo's parents, though, are focused on what a terrible thing Margo has done to them. The humiliation! The locks are being changed! She is no longer their daughter!

Quentin tries to figure out how to deal with Margo's disappearance. She always leaves clues, so it is only a matter of finding them. Once Quentin and his friends start finding the clues, the story gets super awesome. Some of the clues lead to giant mystery-novel-style leaps in logic and a shit-ton of coincidences.

Still, the whole thing is a little epic. And a nail biter. There is trespassing like I didn't even know remembered. There is a road trip that is just--I don't even know. There is adrenaline. A great deal of it.

After everything leading up to the ending, though, the ending just feels meh. Like I stayed up until 4am to assure myself of Margo's safety and well-being for that? And everything leading up to it was, quite literally, making me lol and that's the ending I'm given?! Of course, I would have been devastated if the ending were more tragic. But seriously. After everything that's the ending?! (I'm sure this would make so much more sense if you read the book. Just picture me making extravagant hand gestures. And, as always, Luca with, "Thirteen! Thirteen!" that's how passionately I'm gesturing.) Gaah!
  • Everyone's obsession with Omnictionary, the off-name Wikipedia, is ridic. Everyone is constantly checking it for trolls messing with the pages. Who knew that Wikipedia Omnictionary would ever solve the problems of real people?
  • If Ben, one of Quentin's best friends, referred to girls as "honeybunnies" one more time, I was going to reach into the pages and throttle him. Cheesus. I am NOT a honeybunny! I can only shake my head at any girl/woman that is okay with being called a honeybunny.
    • Ben, if you're going to demean us and call us honeybunnies, at least make it be two words!
  • There's a part in the book where Margo and Quentin talk about never thinking of authors as real people. Guilty. How strange is it to think of all the authors you love as real people? People with feelings and bad days and vices and favorite trashy reality TV shows or favorite quills.
    • That's what makes John Green's books so interesting to me. He communicates with his brother, Hank, through the YouTube channel Brotherhood 2.0. About every day or every other day, he posts a message to his brother. They talk about everything and the world is welcome to watch. It's all very adorkable. After watching way too many of their videos, I can identify all these obscure little references in this book. It's strange. Like my bff wrote a book and I'm all 'Haha! Remember that one time you were telling me about _____ and here it is in your book!" Except it's John Green. And he didn't tell me. He told his shit ton of YouTube followers.
  • I'm not gonna lie. I've done my fair share of trespassing. After a few experiences with bumping into people in the woods at 3am (I should probably clarify: I grew up down the street from a haunted lighthouse. If this makes any difference.), I'm not exactly jumping the gun to hide out in an abandoned building. Reading about Margo and then Quentin spending the night in the abandoned strip mall, gave me the same physiological responses as if I was actually there. I had the sudden urge to, uh, void my bladder. And I wanted to run and hide so bad.
    • Either I'm highly impressionable (true) or this dude is a better writer than I want to give him credit for (also true). John Green, your hype made me resist you for far too long. 
  • Sorry this book makes me so incoherent. Just read it. You will be at a complete loss, too. Gah.


  1. sounds like a really good boook ive never heard of it

    your friend,

  2. So glad you decided to pick this one up! I <3 John Green! He spoke at a Lit Conference I went to a few months ago (with David Levithan) and holy macaroni - they're hilarious! He totally bumped into me in the hall and apologized and I kind of just looked at him in shock. Usually I'm not so starstruck around authors, but he's one of the exceptions! :)

  3. Honeybunnies just reminded me of that video Bart had to watch in the Simpsons which uh demonstrated what happened to bunnies when they hit puberty!

  4. Love the post Honeybunny!
    (couldn't resist)

  5. The Luca "Thirteen! Thirteen!!!!" thing was funny the first 12 times, but now it's just lame and predictable.

    Actually it wasn't even that funny to begin with.

  6. @Sara--You realize that this means that I bumped into him by association, right? *Swoon*

    I hate hearing that famous people are dickholes. It's harder for me to like them, then. I am so relieved to hear that he is just in awesome in real life as he seems in his books and videos!

    P.S. I have a super geek crush on Hank Green.

    @Amiee--I can't find a clip of that on YouTube. Dang. I need a refresher! I'm imagining something horrific and traumatizing and reminiscent of the pancake themed puberty video I saw.

    @Sara Louise--GAH! Not the honeybunny!

    @Anon--I'm sorry you have a problem with an image that has stuck in my mind for years. If it matters, I wasn't trying to be funny but to recall a very specific hand gesturing moment. It worked, didn't it?

  7. My bad, it was actually Fuzzy Bunny! Still hilarious -'s_Guide_to_You_Know_What