Sunday, May 15, 2011

Green - Paper Towns

Paper Towns. John Green. Dutton Books. 2008.

Quentin 'Q' Jacobsen and Margo Spiegelman share a wild night of pranks and adventure. The next day, Margo is not at school. She has disapeared. No one knows where she went or why, or whether she is alive or dead. Q and his freinds try to uncover what happened to her. They find what they belive are clues to her disapearance, left by Margo herself for Q.

The novel develops the main cast through events in and around the last three months of their final year of High School. In the time off from school they follow the clues. Margo had been the most popular girl in High School. But as Q and his freinds dig, they discover that no one really knew Margo. Each person who knew her had a different idea of her personality. She was a reflection of their own ideas, their own biases and assumptions, and on her part Margo played the role she was given. But her own personality remained seperate and hidden form everyone. An irony here is that enough is given about Margo for each reader to make their own idea of who Margo is, based on their own reactions to the story and their own biases and personalities and past histories. Thus one of Green's themes extends beyond the page into the reader's world.

As the young characters search they learn more about the real Margo. Q in particular is obsessed with knowing the truth and with finding her or what happened to her. The novel ends with a furious race against time across the country to where they believe they will find Margo. What they discover you need to read the book to find out.

Of all the Green teen books, this is possibly the best, and the most accesible to an adult audience. The themes of identity, friendship, and so on resonate with all readers.

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