A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{May 15, 2011}   Paper Towns by John Green

Plot: Q has been in love with his neighbour, the mysterious Margo Roth Spiegelman, since he was little. But one night, only weeks before graduation, she appears at his bedroom window dressed like a ninja and takes him on a wild adventure to take revenge on those who had wronged them. And then she disappears. Q strings together the clues she has left behind, which lead from one end of the country to the other, in a desperate attempt to find her. But the closer he gets to her, the more he comes to realize how little he actually knows her.

Like Miles in Looking for Alaska, Q is trying to find and understand the mysterious girl he has fallen in love with. But the approach is very different, whereas Looking for Alaska was about suffering, death and loss, Paper Towns is about the images we construct about people and how these can never completely capture that person. In a moment of publishing brilliance, there were actually two different versions of the hard cover book: both pictures of Margo but drastically different from each other, two people’s impression of her and neither quite the real Margo. Unfortunately for me, the cover image was changed for the paperback.

Paper Towns is a fascinating and thought provoking mystery. One that’s very different from your standard murder mystery because Q is both trying to find the physical Margo and the person Margo (if that makes any sense) though, ultimately, we learn a great deal more about him than we do about Margo. And the whole thing ends with a crazy road trip to a town that doesn’t exist, as any good novel should. 😉 This is another beautifully written book and a real page turner. And I for one will be playing “Metaphysical I Spy” on every road trip I’m on in the future.

I probably would have gotten even more out of the book if I had read “Song of Myself”, the Walt Whitman poem that frames the narrative (I did very little American litterature for my English lit degree). I admit that prefer a good novel to a poem any day but maybe I’ll give Whitman a chance… once I’ve made a bit more progress on my to read pile.

My John Green marathon unfortunately ends here as I already read Will Grayson, Will Grayson at the end of last year and Green hasn’t finished writing the new book yet. I wait impatiently.

Challenges: Into the Old World Challenge (25)


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