let’s review: paper towns


[disclaimer: this review contains a spoiler. to read spoiler-free, go here].

Margo Roth Spiegelman, the ultra cool, adventurous, beautiful, mysterious girl next door, has been just out of Quentin’s reach for most of his life. One night, she crawls through his bedroom dressed in black, summoning Q on a mission as her partner in crime. The next day, she disappears. Following a disjointed trail of breadcrumb clues, Quentin is determined to at last pinpoint and discover the real Margo.

Paper Towns definitely has that John Greeny style, infusing humor and intellectual musings into a story about teenagers. A lot of parts were funny, and I liked the dynamic between Quentin and his friends. I also liked the concept of accidentally viewing someone as an idea instead of a person—the Margo Roth Spiegelmans of our lives that appear differently from a distance than they do up close. This story does a good job of exploring the dichotomy between paper people and real people, expectations vs. reality. Even Margo must reckon with the idea of Margo. I think this can happen at any age, but in this case is a fitting exploration for graduating high school seniors on the brink of whatever comes next.

Overall, I thought there could have been a bit more to the story to really give it an extra dynamic boost of 3-D to contrast with the concept of paper towns. Maybe I was hoping for more side discovery and subplot while the Margo clues were coming together? Also, because I’ve seen John Green speak a few times, I was already familiar with the story behind paper towns as copyright traps on maps, so this explanation amid the building action before the final road trip was not as illuminating as it might have been otherwise. Still, I appreciated the interweaving of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, and how its metaphors fit so well inside the story. I was rooting for Quentin to find Margo, and the clues and changing angles kept me interested. I’m curious to see how Paper Towns will translate to the big screen.

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