Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Paper Towns by John Green

“The town was paper, but the memories were not.”

Paper Towns follows the story of Quintin 'Q', the one crazy night he spends with Margo Roth Spiegelman and what happens afterwards. The story is spilt into three parts; the strings, the grass and the vessel, each part discusses a different philosophy on life.Margo's 'strings' that can eventually become cut until there is nothing left, Walt Whitman's 'grass' which becomes a metaphor for so many different things, hope, life, death, connectedness or Q's  'cracked vessel' where we start out whole but as life continues on we become cracked and broken. 

This is my second John Green novel, the first one I read was 'The Fault in Our Stars' which set Mr Green on a very high pedestal. When I finished this book I found it rather hard to decide whether I liked it or not. I liked the themes and ideas behind but I don't think it had be as enthralled as the fault in our stars did but maybe that is just because I had such an emotional connection to the latter.

Margo and Q represent more than just two high school children who've known each other their entire lives but not really known each other. They show how the world views each other, we have these ideas in our heads about people, even people we are extremely close too but are they really true. Do we know the person or just a version of themselves? Q thinks he knows Margo, they live next door to each other, she appears to be happy and care free but is she really, as the story progresses it seems more and more that Margo feels lonely and isolated, misunderstood by those around here. In one particular scene Q thinks he sees Margo laughing when really she is screaming because she is angry. Q has Margo on a pedestal, he likes the idea of her without really knowing who she is. 

“When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.” 

The middle of this book was hard going for me, as they searched for the missing Margo following more and more of her clues, I found myself not caring at some points, at first Margo seemed selfish and uncaring. She knew people would be missing her and yet she just left and it wasn't the first time she had done it and yet as the story progressed and I realised how vulnerable she really was, I stared wondering along with Q if she really had killed herself. 

Throughout this book Q learns more about how he judges other people based on his own ideas. He has to learn to accept his best friend Ben for his 'honeybunny'  and prom loving ways. People aren't going to be who we want them to be but you just need to learn to accept it.

“You know your problem, Quentin? You keep expecting people not to be themselves. I mean, I could hate you for being massively unpunctual and for never being interested in anything other than Margo Roth Spiegelman, and for, like, never asking me about how it's going with my girlfriend - but I don't give a shit, man, because you're you. My parents have a shit ton of black Santas, but that's okay. They're them. I'm too obsessed with a reference website to answer my phone sometimes when my friends call, or my girlfriend. That's okay, too. That's me. You like me anyway. And I like you. You're funny, and you're smart, and you may show up late, but you always show up eventually.” 

Paper Towns is a wonderful if yet slow moving and slightly repetitive story about looking at more than just a paper image of someone. This book gets you to think about people being more than just the outside shell that they allow us to see. People are complex, with hidden layers and it is only when the cracks start to show that we can really start to see them at all.  
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