Paper Towns – John Green

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Aloha! So we meet again! I’m not even going to apologize for keeping you waiting for so long this time, I was in Hawaii for reading week. Compared to tropical paradise this blog is WAY low on my priority list. Plus I didn’t have my computer.

Oh, how was Hawaii? Great! Thanks for asking! What’s that? You’d like to see some pictures? Sure!

View from our back lanai (balcony/patio):Image

View from our front lanai:Image

Come on. Can you blame me for not wanting to come back to this?

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Someone thinks they’re really funny.

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Seriously, these are pictures from my city. If I went out to my back yard right now the drifts would be past my waist. It’s disgusting.

Back to the bookcase.

I’m still catching up on books I read a few months ago, this one happens to be Paper Towns by John Green. Never have I laughed out loud this much while reading a book. There have been very few books that actually made me giggle or laugh out loud. A few Harry Potter books, Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) was also quite funny. But this one had me howling. Why? Because John Green is a master.

I mean, come on. Even without any context, the quote I’m about to insert is pretty funny. Just imagine what kind of house that must be…

“Radar threw his books into his locker and shut it. Then the din of conversation around us quieted just a bit as he turned his eyes toward the heavens and shouted, “IT IS NOT MY FAULT THAT MY PARENTS OWN THE WORLD’S LARGEST COLLECTION OF BLACK SANTAS.”

Yeah. That’s right. The world’s largest collection of black Santas.

At one point, the main character Quentin and his friends go on a mad dash non-stop 24 hour road trip to try and save the life of Quentin’s crush Margo Roth Spiegelman. They happen to have left in the middle of their high school graduation ceremony, where there was a plan in place for the boys to go completely nude under their robes. So they’ve taken off in a van, Quentin, Ben, Radar (whose real name is Marcus, but was nicknamed Radar after the character Radar from the show MASH and is black. This is important later),and Lacey. During the first leg of their journey, the group works out the exact schedule they need to follow in order to get to Margo on time to save her life (or at least they think they need to save her life, there’s a bit of mis-communication going on), and decide they have exactly so many minutes at each gas station to get gas, take a bathroom break, and get food. On one of these stops, they decide the boys need clothes. So Ben grabs the first shirts he sees, pays, and runs back to the car. Hilarity ensues…

“When Ben unfurls the T-shirts, there are two small problems. First, it turns out that a large T-shirt in a Georgia gas station is not the same size as a large T-shirt at, say, Old Navy. The gas station shirt is gigantic-more garbage bag than shirt. It is smaller than the graduation robes, but not by much. But this problem pales in comparison to the other problem, which is that both T-shirts are embossed with huge Confederate flags. Printed over the flag are the words HERITAGE NOT HATE.

“Oh no you didn’t,” Radar says when I show him why we’re laughing. “Ben Starling, you better not have bought your token black friend a racist shirt.”

“I just grabbed the first shirts I saw, bro.”

“Don’t bro me right now,” Radar says, but he’s shaking his head and laughing. I hand him his shirt and he wiggles into it while driving with his knees. “I hope I get pulled over,” he says. “I’d like to see how the cop responds to a black man wearing a Confederate T-shirt over a black dress.””

And then… to replace the awful shirt Quentin gets Radar a bright pink “World’s Best Grandma” shirt. It’s wonderful.

Also, they have a whole lot of beer in the back of the van left over from a graduation party. At one point, the group gets into a big car accident because of a cow on the road, and they almost die. Once they get out of the car, they hear a fizzing sound. One of the boys thinks the engine is about to explode, and takes off running. Turns out it’s just the beer exploding in the back, over 100 bottles/cans of it. However, it’s pretty hilarious to imagine this kid running for the hills over beer exploding.

Alright so maybe you have to read the book, but I find it all quite humorous. There are also several moments of literary brilliance, metaphors in every chapter and SO many quotable moments. My favourite has been making it’s rounds on Pinterest lately, mostly because it is so relatable to bookworms and travel lovers all over.

“I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.”

Why yes, yes I am.  Fictional people need to be included in there, as well. I’m looking at you, Harry, Ron, Legolas, Aragorn, Max, Neville, Rudy, Augustus, Jamie, Four, etc. etc. etc.

To wrap things up: I strongly recommend this book. It is hilarious, emotional, exciting, adventurous, philosophical, and worthy of Nerdfighter love.

See you next time! And in honour of John Green and my fellow Nerdfighters, DFTBA!

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Paper Towns – John Green

  1. Hi,

    I just wanted to say that it’s refreshing to see another point of view on this book…. I’m glad I read your review, because I have to say, I really did not enjoy Paper Towns at all.

    I know I’m kind of in the minority here, but honestly, I hated it. The gruesome bit at the beginning really just tainted the whole book for me, and I struggled through the whole book, not putting it down in the hopes that it might get better. It’s entirely possible I took the book too seriously (as I tend to do), but ultimately, I just didn’t enjoy it. He spends the entire book obsessing over Margo (which, quite frankly, is a name I didn’t like to begin with) and she just seems completely unlikeable to me – spoiled and selfish and self-righteous. Honestly, by the end, I just kind of wanted him to get over her. I tend to dislike books with characters I can’t root for and I just found her completely unappealing. I didn’t, ultimately, care very much whether she lived or died, and when I found out that the whole thing was just some giant game to her – honestly, it pissed me off. I can’t quite describe why, but Paper Towns just left me with a bad taste in my mouth, like I needed some sort of comedic palate-cleanser to get over the teenage angsty-sad of it.

    Again, nothing against you or your review – just a dissenting opinion. Hoping to spark a conversation.

    Thanks.

    – Yelena

    • I actually agree with your assessment of Margo, she is very selfish and self-righteous. She also used the feelings Quentin had for her in order to facilitate her own entertainment. I find John Green is hit and miss when it comes to writing likeable female characters. I hated Alaska in Looking for Alaska, and loved Hazel from The Fault in our Stars and Lindsey from An Abundance of Katherines. But I think that actually adds to the believability of the story. Not every character, like every person, is going to be likeable. I think a lot of authors try to make very clear distinctions between the hero and the villain or at least the protagonist and the antagonist and in John Green’s books you’re not always sure.

      All that being said, I still don’t like Margo. Luckily for me there was a whole lot of great bits that don’t feature her that I really enjoyed. Those are the parts that make the book worthwhile for me, the humour and the silliness of it. It almost juxtaposes against the backdrop of very real characters. I also very much enjoyed the use of metaphor.

      Did you enjoy any of his other writing? This one is my favourite but I also really liked TFIOS and enjoyed An Abundance of Katherines. I did not appreciate Looking for Alaska, though.

      • I’m going to be honest here…. I haven’t read any of his other books. I read Paper Towns because I received it as a gift.

        I have willfully resisted reading The Fault in Our Stars, not because I think it would be bad, but because I know it’s not for me. I just can’t handle the big sad that comes with it. And knowing that it’s based on a real girl makes it worse.

        I’d be up for reading an Abundance of Katherines or Looking for Alaska, but they’re not exactly at the top of my list.

        • If the other two weren’t for you I wouldn’t recommend them. They all follow pretty much the same formula: boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, boy tries to save girl. And the humour is the same style in all the books.

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