Sunday, 5 September 2010

Review: Paper Towns - John Green

Goodreads synopsis:
When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.

To start off, this is the first book by John Green that I've read, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  On finishing it last night, I have to say that I've got really mixed feelings about it.  On the one hand, I did enjoy parts of it but on the other, there were a lot of things about it that made it far from my perfect book.  John Green writes extemely intelligently from the viewpoint of Q, who has spent almost all of his teenage life in love with his next-door-neighbour Margo.  After spending one perfect night of adventure together, Margo disappears and Q takes it upon himself to be the one to try and track her down.

I think my biggest problem with 'Paper Towns' was that I didn't care enough about what happened to the characters.  I found Margo quite a dislikeable figure and although Q was sweet and funny, I didn't understand why he felt like he had to abandon everything in his single-minded quest to locate her.  I really just wanted to shout at him to leave her to it!  Part of the reason why I probably didn't love it, is the fact that it had a male narrator.  It reminded me a little bit of 'Zoology' by Ben Dolnick.  Guy has huge crush on girl, girl doesn't return his feelings, guy spends entire book trying to fix things for her.  It's been done before.  I would have thought it would have been more interesting to write a book from the perspective of a boy, perhaps dealing with a girl who has a huge crush on him that he doesn't return.  How would be cope if her feelings for him were getting out of control?  What impact would that have on his life?      

I thought that the cleverest thing about the book was the way in which John Green linked a lot of  the characters feelings and emotions with literature and poetry (Whitman, Plath, Melville), helping to enhance our understanding of them.

I don't think that this is the sort of book that would appeal to everyone.  However, saying all that, I would still give John Green another chance to redeem himself.  'Looking For Alaska' is supposed to be very good, so I might try that one next.

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