Paper Towns – John Green.

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Well, I wasn’t expecting THAT ending. In a good way. In a great way. In the best way possible.

High Point.
Elaborate revenge schemes in the dead of night, three best friends that anybody could ever have, black Santa’s, kick-ass parents, poetrypoetrypoetry, adventure, hilarious-do-not-read-in-public-for-fear-you-will-be-judged-for-barking-like-a-seal dialogue, Omnictionary (which, to my utmost delight, actually exists!)and perhaps the most important high point…. NAKED GRADUATION.

Low Point.
MORE BEN AND RADAR. Seriously, when you read this (which you will!) you will agree with my 100%. I wish the book had featured more of ‘The Vessel’ section. Seriously, that road trip…

Have you ever seen Practical Magic? If you answered no, then you’re probably not going to understand the rest of my analogy for my feelings towards Quentin Jacobson (or Q as he’s known to his friends…and me.). I’ll carry on. You know the part where the young Sally creates that love spell for a man who has one blue eye and one brown, who can flip pancakes and his favourite shape is a star? And then he turns up and it’s all lovely? Well, when I read this book I realised I must have also cast one of these spells to entice my perfect man (indie geek with funny, awesome, nerdy conversation and a tendency to quote T.S Eliot and would dedicate a song to someone by their locker combination and who would probably be played by Jesse Eisenberg or Michael Cera in a film version of their life) and completely forgotten I had done it. Then this list must have fallen into the hands of John Green and using my template, he created all his protagonists. Seriously. It’s ridiculous how much I love these guys. And how much I kind of fancy them or at least want to be bffs with them, bffs that occasionally kiss. If you haven’t seen Practical Magic…. Then I’ll put it simply: Quentin Jacobsen is my kind of guy.

Love Interest.
Margo Roth Spiegelman is the type of love interest I would normally hate because she is cool, edgy, kooky and has a, shall we say, flair for the dramatic and being centre of the attention. But I liked MRS because unlike so many heroines before her, it wasn’t all me, me, me. Also, it probably helped that even though she feature heavily in the novel and was mentioned like a million times, she is only really in the first few chapters (and gee whizz, is she in these chapters… I liked to live vicariously through her in these sections, the phrase ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ was coined for Margo! Next time I get messed around by a boy I am calling this girl!) but as a character she is mostly featured to let Q… for want of a better phrase, explore who he is when he is teetering on the edge of adulthood. I can’t really explain MRS’ role in the book without either spoiling it or making it sound terribly cheesy… but it’s really not, I promise. You probably know by now that I hate cheesy books and this really steered away from the predictable and, as the book came to the end and I realised it wasn’t going to be the ending I was expecting, I was kind of craving some kind of clichéd, disgusting ending. But no, because John Green is never clichéd and that is why I love him so even if it breaks my heart.

Best friends.
If my entry on the love interest was weirdly ambiguous and rambly it was because I desperately wanted to scream ‘THIS ISN’T A BOOK ABOUT LOVE IT’S ABOUT FINDING YOUR PLACE IN LIFE AND HAVING AMAZING GEEKY, NERDY BEST FRIENDS’ and it was affecting my ability to form coherent sentences. Friendship. This is what this book is about, at least in my opinion, and in my (albeit brief) experiences with John Green I have found he is the master of creating amazingly well-thought and realistic characters, both main and supporting. The conversations between the Q, Radar and Ben are exactly what my friends and I sound like when we get together (OK, maybe not exactly like them… I don’t think we sound as cool as them but you get the gist!) and it just feels so familiar which is good because sometimes conversations between teenagers in YA fiction can be so alienating and try-so-hard and it’s just like…cringe. There were so many times when I literally barked with laughter (“The last time I was this scared,” Radar says, “I actually had to face a Dark Lord in order to make the world safe for wizards.”). I’ve said it before and, no doubt I’ll say it again, but John Green knows exactly what it’s like to be a teenager and he depicts it so perfectly that you can almost imagine these guys in the dinner hall chatting with all their private jokes and movie references. I would totally have been the loser sat close to them, chuckling at their jokes but never going to join them. So often in books the best friends betray them or are not-so-secretly nasty to them or so under-developed they have no personality, but these guys are true friends and I love JG for keeping them that way.

Theme Tune

Don’t Say Oh Well by Grouplove.
This song reminds me of summer and going on exciting adventures with your best friends and following your hearts plan and not thinking too much and just forgoing consequences and just doing things you want to do and having no regrets. Basically what this whole book is about, or at least what it means to me.

Angst Scale.
5/10. I wouldn’t say that this book was angsty. Probably more thought-provoking, which can sometimes lead you to feeling emotionally drained which then can also lead you to mistaking it for angst. There are some problems that are mentioned (Margo’s problems with her family and her compulsion of running away) but they are never really explored in depth, but this book isn’t that kind of book and these issues are dealt with respectfully even if they are not covered. However, the last couple of chapters and especially the ending left me with a very bitter-sweet taste in my mouth.

Recommended For.
People who always wanted to sit at the indie, band-geek table in the dining hall (or for us Brits… People who wished they had attended a clichéd, fictional American High School where indie, band-geeks are segregated from the Jocks and the Girls Who Eat Their Feelings). People who love stories that don’t always have an immediate, all-loose-ties-are-tied-in-a-nice-neat-bow, happy endings. (Referring to the first part of the book) People who love kick-ass girls getting kick-ass revenge on ridiculously stupid boys and crappy friends. People who want to go on an adventure. People who like mysterious treasure hunts that involve Walt Whitman and Woody Guthrie. People who like original premises and metaphors that aren’t tired (seriously, after I finished reading this book I went straight onto Google to find out more about paper towns and other copyright traps… so fascinating!). People who have always wanted to break into theme parks at night. People who have always wanted to know what exactly happens when you need to pee when you’re on a strict driving schedule and there are no planned stops for another three hours…

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