When I first discovered John Green it was when I read Looking for Alaska. I really enjoyed that book and looked forward to read more of his work. That was when I discovered Paper Towns, a story about childhood friends named Quentin “Q” Jacobsen and Margo Roth Spiegelman.
The story started when Q was telling the story of how he met Margo who just recently moved in next door. And that was the start when his boring and dull life begin to turn upside down. Margo was this energetic and spunky girl who always want’s adventure. It was all fun and games until that fated day when the two found a dead body.
So flash forward to high school. As they grew older the two started to drift apart, Margo became part of the cool kids in school while Quentin became part of the not-so-popular group. They haven’t talked to each other until one night Margo came up to Q’s bedroom window to ask for help in doing some things. It was a night filled with fun and adventure. Q thought that it would change the way things were for him and Margo that they would be close again like when they were young (because he has a thing for her). So imagine his surprise that after their night that’s filled with excitement Margo decided to vanish.
The plot focused on Quentin and his friend’s quest deciphering Margo’s clues that might lead them to her. Those clues are the main driving force that would make you want to read more. It really gives you the impression to know more about Margo. What drove her to do it? What’s on her mind? Does she know about Quentin’s feelings? The trail of questions go on and on but all of that will be answered at the end.
The protagonist has this two friends named Ben Starling and Marcus “Radar” Lincoln who helped him in searching and deciphering the clues that Margo left behind. Ben was irritating yet funny at times (you’ll understand upon reading) but he added extra drama to the story. And then there was the other best friend Radar, whose more reasonable and the intellectual type in the group. In the latter part of the book Lacey Pemberton, Margo’s best friend joined in on the group to help them search. These three really did a big part in the story not in the sense that they’re needed for the plot but in the sense of what the story is trying to convey.
All throughout the book most of the things that we knew of Margo are from Quentin and that’s kind of make her sort of an idea rather than an actual character. And that’s where the three enters. All of them have different images of Margo in their minds and that made her more complex and interesting.
The story is divided in three sections The Strings, The Grass and The Vessel (respectively). Each section represents a metaphor that sets the atmosphere of the said sections. And I’ll leave it to you dear reader to understand the meaning behind those three. If I would choose, the part in which I was slightly bored it was The Grass section. That part is where the story kind of drags but still it is a good read. It just so happens that it pales in comparison to the first and last section.
Also there are so many great lines in this book that made it more engaging. To give you a whiff of it here are two of my most favorite lines from the book:
“It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world”
“It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined.”
Some might not like the ending of the book because it is kinda sad. But if you based it on how the story is going you would think that it really is its befitting end. You’d see the big picture and realize the meaning of all those metaphor that are recurring all through out the book.
In my own understanding I think that the book is tackling about a person’s individuality (Margo’s in the story because each character have different ideas of her). We can relate it on how we see others (celebrities, heroes, strangers, etc.), if we really don’t know a person we only see him/her as an idea. But if we look into someone, really look into someone and know him/her that’s the time we get to the realization that they are just like any other person out there.
I’m not going to drag this and spoil you the whole thing but I hoped this piqued your interest if you haven’t read this book. It really is a good and fun read (I can’t say the same for the movie though). The characters are relatable and I think you can gain something in reading this.
And lastly if there’s one thing I’m really sure. Quentin might not get the ending that he wanted but Margo taught him how to live she might have done it unconsciously, but she surely taught him. And yes we all have that one person that will come or came in our lives. A game changer of sorts that would change the way on how we do things.