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Book Review: “Paper Towns” by John Green

Teens for years have been raving about John Green’s 2008 award-winning novel “Paper Towns,” which is set to hit movie theaters this summer.

The novel centers on a group of high school teenagers, including the main character, Quentin Jacobsen, and the eccentric Margo Roth Spiegelman, who plays Quentin’s love interest. Throughout the novel, the characters struggle with themes that are central to the everyday lives of teens, such as building relationships and discovering one’s identity.

The plot of the novel begins to thicken when Margo suddenly shows up at Quentin’s window late at night, requesting his help in carrying out her personal vendetta against her former friends with elaborate schemes involving dead fish, Walmart purchases and graffiti.

As Quentin and Margo are viewing Orlando from a tall building that night, Margo tells Quentin that their city is a superficial “Paper Town.” Her perception of Orlando gives some insight into the complexity of her character, and hints that underneath her flawless image at school, something is not right in her life.

Quentin is hopeful after his excursion with Margo that night that they will become closer friends, yet when he wakes up the next morning he is astonished to find that Margo has disappeared without telling anyone where she went.

Quentin begins to search for clues to lead him to the girl he has fallen hopelessly in love with and is pleasantly surprised to find that Margo has left traces that can help him. Yet as he continues to discover more of Margo’s clues, he realizes that he barely knew her at all, and that her personality is darker than he first thought.

The clues eventually lead Quentin to Agloe, a “Paper Town,” or a fictional place that mapmakers place on their maps to ensure that they are not plagiarized. Quentin and his friends, Radar and Ben, form an unexpected friendship with Margo’s best friend Lacey, and the group embarks on a wild adventure to find her.

Overall, the book does a fantastic job depicting the motley experiences of teenagers as their characters develop. The complexity of Margo and Quentin’s relationship has an authentic feel to it because it is flawed and obstructed by issues such as misunderstanding of each other’s character and interests. In addition, the depth of Margo’s character adds to the story as it comes to light that the image she has created for herself is so different than the person she actually is.

Although the novel does not exactly have a ‘perfect’ ending, Quentin finds out a lot about his character as well as Margo’s throughout the plot, and he also strengthens the bonds between him and his friends along the way. The novel is exciting and entertaining, a perfect spring read.

Fans of Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” will not want to miss out on reading this book before the movie hits theaters in July. The character of Quentin will be played by Nat Wolff, and Cara Delevingne will portray Margo. The movie trailer is available on YouTube and a second teaser trailer was recently revealed at the 2015 MTV Movie Awards.

Kate Quinn is a junior at Nardin Academy.