Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Saturday, May 17, 2014

Plot Summary:
Quentin has been in love with Margo ever since she stumbled into his bedroom window dressed in black as if she were a ninja. Although Margo is in another social class (popular), he never stopped admiring her, which only escalates when she stumbled into his room, again, many years later. Margo is a free spirit, but also a force to be reckoned with. When Margo's boyfriend is caught cheating, Margo not only makes her boyfriend and backstabbing friend existence a living nightmare, she takes Quentin on a journey of revenge like none other. In fact, this adventure not only involved illegal breaking and entering, it also included a night time jaunt to the city's biggest skyscraper and Sea World. Quentin did not realize the courage and the audacity that makes Margo who she is and that not only makes her much more attractive, but a mystery.  After returning from what seemed like a crazy dream, Quentin believed that Margo would actually acknowledge him, but when she didn't return to school, Quentin knew something was up. Little does he realize, but Margo is the reason why the school bully stayed away from him, and his friends, but Margo is the one who instills courage in him, which allows him to stand up to the bully for the first time in his life. With a renewed sense of purpose, and confidence, Quentin learns that Margo, for some reason, has a habit of running away and, unfortunately, this is the last time her parents will put up with her behavior. According to Quentin's parents, who are are therapists, they believe that Margo is just acting out and seeking attention. Sadly, Margo's parents have had enough and they informed Quentin that Margo is no longer allowed in their home. Although this seems highly unfair, Quentin asks his parents if Margo could stay with them and they would allow it. However, with Margo gone, Quentin must find her in order to make this happen because he doesn't want to lose her again. Little does he realize that Margo wants to be found because she leaves clues just for him, which could easily lead to somewhere magical or utterly terrible.

Critical Evaluation:
 John Green has written yet another prolific tale of misunderstanding, adventure, comedy, angst, and love. In this story, two teens who live next to one another finally come together to create a story all of their own. Although it's a little creepy to begin the book with two kids discovering a dead body, it's the one moment that show them the harshness of life and reality. This gruesome discovery has haunted Quentin for most of his life, but, with that memory, there is the one with Margo decked out as a ninja wanting to know why the man killed himself. This morbid curiosity is not only real amongst teens today, but it's a sign that no matter what we do we cannot shelter our kids no matter where we raise them or how. Quentin, who is the exact opposite of Margo, is a "well-adjusted" teenager because his parents are therapists who don't question his level-head. I think what cracks me up is that Quentin's parents are so involved with their work that they don't even notice their own son's loneliness. All of his life, Quentin has loved Margo for a long and has always kept a vigil for her, hoping that she will see him as more than the boy next door. As for Margo, as I mentioned earlier, is a whirlwind of mystery and intrigue. What makes her that way, one will never know, but one thing that is obvious (to readers) is that she needs Quentin to find her. Granted, they haven't been very close for quite some time, but Quentin is the ones she shares that awful moment when they were younger; therefore, he is the only who understands why she lives her life the way she does. Death is a huge influence in this novel because Margo refuses to let life hold her back and that is why she takes the risks she does. For Quentin, who has lived a rather safe life is starting to see the joy in every moment because all of us could end up like the man from the past. What terrifies Quentin the most is that Margo could end up like the man they found and that is why he must find her. Paper Towns is an amazing story that not only makes the reader think about life, but allows us to reflect on those moments to make the right decisions. 

Information about the Author:
According to his website:
John Green is the New York Times bestselling author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and The Fault in Our Stars. He is also the coauthor, with David Levithan, of Will Grayson, Will Grayson. He was 2006 recipient of the Michael L. Printz Award, a 2009 Edgar Award winner, and has twice been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Green’s books have been published in more than a dozen languages.
In 2007, Green and his brother Hank ceased textual communication and began to talk primarily through videoblogs posted to YouTube. The videos spawned a community of people called nerdfighters who fight for intellectualism and to decrease the overall worldwide level of suck. (Decreasing suck takes many forms: Nerdfighters have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight poverty in the developing world; they also planted thousands of trees around the world in May of 2010 to celebrate Hank’s 30th birthday.) Although they have long since resumed textual communication, John and Hank continue to upload two videos a week to their YouTube channel, vlogbrothers. Their videos have been viewed more than 200 million times, and their channel is one of the most popular in the history of online video. He is also an active Twitter user with more than 1.2 million followers.
Green’s book reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review and Booklist, a wonderful book review journal where he worked as a publishing assistant and production editor while writing Looking for Alaska. Green grew up in Orlando, Florida before attending Indian Springs School and then Kenyon College.

Teen Contemporary Fiction

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Paper Towns:

Awards & Recognition:

A Booklist Best Book of the Year
An SLJ Best Book of the Year
A VOYA Best Book of the Year

“Green’s prose is astounding — from hilarious, hyperintellectual trash talk and shtick, to complex philosophizing, to devastating observation and truths.” –SLJ, starred review

“[Green’s] a superb stylist, with a voice perfectly matched to his amusing, illuminating material.” –Booklist, starred review

“Laugh-out-loud humor and heartfelt poignancy.” –Kliatt, starred review

“Green delivers once again with this satisfying, crowd-pleasing look at a complex, smart boy and the way he loves. Genuine—and genuinely funny—dialogue, a satisfyingly tangled but not unbelievable mystery and delightful secondary characters.”

"Stellar, with deliciously intelligent dialogue and plenty of mind-twisting insights…a powerfully great read." --VOYA 

"Compelling." --The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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