I am working at a school library and they just got some new John Green books. They already had a few of them, and I was told I could set one of each title aside to read before the kids got a hold of them… so I did.
I read the back cover blurbs and put them in the order of interest, with one exception. I wasn’t sure I actually wanted to read all the books, but The Fault in Our Stars had to be last. Everyone said it was amazing, and I wanted to have something to look forward to if I didn’t like the other novels.
Since then I have essentially read one of these books per week. I would read it on the transpo to and from work, as well as during my lunch break every afternoon. Sometimes I even snuck the book home with me so that I might read a little more of it each evening. (As a temp, I don’t have a “membership card” to actually check the books out from the circulation.)
The first book I read was Paper Towns. The story sounded right up my alley with two neighbouring teens going on a night of hijinx before Margo disappears and leaves a trail of clues for Quentin to solve. But because Q had idealized who he thought Margo is, finding the real girl was a lot harder than he expected.
Being my first John Green book I was a bit disappointed by the climax, as the story isn’t as happy/fun as I had been expecting. Rather than Q being roped into another amazing adventure it has a dark aesthetic, and the solving of Margo’s “mystery” is a bit of a downer. I can see why the novel ends the way it does and is was far more realistic than my expectations, but I didn’t love it.
In fact, the worst-case scenario of what-could-have-been would be much more dramatic and thus somehow appealing even though many readers would throw a fit had the book ended that way, I think. As a whole the book remains true to itself, though it leaves the reader feeling as though you should have learned some moral rather than just spent a few hours of relaxing with a book, there isn’t anything that could improve the end result.
The highlight of reading this tale was the discovery of what paper towns are. I never knew about them, and absolutely love the idea of what they could represent. That may be something different to everyone, but for me it fell in line with something I once read in philosophy class: I think therefore I am. If you want to know more about paper towns then I’m afraid you’ll have to either read this book or research it for yourself, as I have no intention of spoiling the mystery other than to say another clue is the word Mountweazel.
On a side note, it seems that Paper Towns is supposedly being made into a movie set to come out later this year. This may be one of those rare instances where the movie is better than the book, and I kind of hope it is. The plot has such great potential that fell flat for me in word form, and hopefully the visual panorama of film will bring it to life for me in a way that the book (oddly) could not.