John Green has been on my radar for a while, and not just because of the popularity of The Fault in Our Stars. It was through Twitter that I discovered the CrashCourse YouTube channel where Green and his friends upload informative bite-sized videos about subjects such as literature, history, science and philosophy. They are definitely worth checking out.
I picked up Paper Towns at a guest house on the Thai island of Koh Lanta and then, because it was such a page-turner, read it in only two wonderful sittings on the beach.
Quentin, known to his friends as ‘Q’, is the likeable protagonist. One night his old childhood friend Margo shows up at his window to drag him out of bed and on a crazy quest of vengeance. When she doesn’t turn up at school the next day, and Quentin discovers a cryptic clue, he becomes determined to unravel the mystery of Margo and find out where she has run off to.
Quentin’s obsession is eventually shared by his friends who at the same time are also dealing with all the usual teenage worries: girlfriends, bullies, exams, what to wear (or not wear) to graduation… This group of misfit characters bring some great dialogue to the book, highlighting John Green’s brilliant writing. I always think that teenage dialogue must be one of the hardest things to get right.
After the fantastic escapades of Quentin and Margo at the beginning of the book, and the discovery of the first few clues, the storyline did start to drag. But this luckily doesn’t last long, with a fast-paced and wild 24 hour road trip towards the end that more than makes up for any flatness in the middle.
John Green’s novels have encouraged many children to read, and I can see why. I bet some of them would also be more likely to seek out Walt Whitman too, as his poetry collection Leaves of Grass features very heavily throughout the book, giving Quentin different ideas about Margo, about life and about the world. It’s even persuaded me to seek it out, and I’ve always been nervous of poetry!
Reading about a bunch of teenagers might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but if you ever need to buy a present for a pre-teen or young teenager, I would recommend a John Green novel.
Buy Paper Towns today by clicking on the picture below!