Monday, 24 May 2010
Review: Paper Towns by John Green
Who is the real Margo? Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life - dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge - he follows. After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. She has disappeared. Q soon learns that there are clues in her disappearance ...and they are for him. Trailing Margo's disconnected path across the USA, the closer Q gets, the less sure he is of who he is looking for.
This is my first foray into the awesomeness that is John Green. I have heard/seen so many bloggers talking about him that I just had to read this book as soon as I saw it in the library :) I must say I finished it last night and my head is still reeling.
The story has so many layers it was like peeling the layers from an onion only to discover more layers underneath.
Written in 1st person narrative, from Quentin's (Q's) perspective. Q was surprisingly easy to relate to even in my female dominated household. Q epitomises the boy next door stereotype. A good student and all round nice guy. John Green makes geek/nerd sexy, both J & I wish that it had been sexy to be a geek when we were teenagers :0)
Margo & Q are tied together by a traumatic incident in their childhood. Although no longer friends, Q has had a crush on Margo from an early age. Following their night of adventure and Margo's subsequent disappearance, Q has to analyse how well he knows/doesn't know Margo.
The notion that we are different versions of ourselves with different people really comes under scrutiny within the narrative. How well do we really know someone when we only see a single side of them. In the same context how well do we know ourselves, when we are different with different people. There are a complex set of psychological theories beautifully entwined in the plot. I think that is why my friend Clover is a huge John Green fan (she is studying psychology).
Making Q's parents psychiatrists in the story adds an extra dimension to the analysis. Elements of the nature versus nurture debate especially with the contrasts between Q's parents and Margo's.
The use of Walter Whitman's poem Leaves of Grass within the plot adds another layer to the story (see what I mean about peeling the layers of an onion). The analysis of the poem parallels the analysis of people within the plot.
Q evolves tremendously throughout the book. At the start he has always been on the periphery of his own life. Through his search for Margo, he discovers who he really is. I think that is why finding Margo became a compulsion for him, as he was also finding himself.
I adored John Green's writing style, the use of metaphors & similes were fantastic. Decay never sounded so good :0)
A story about growing-up, self discovery, endings & beginnings. The realisation that the world is a big place and we are just a small part of the whole. A highly recommended read :0)