On My Bookshelf: Paper Towns by John Green

January 04, 2016

In Paper Towns by John Green, Margo enlists her longtime neighbor and childhood friend, Quentin, to help her exact revenge on her cheating boyfriend and her disloyal best friend. But after a night of thrilling hijinks, Margo disappears, leaving behind clues for Quentin to find her. As time passes, Quentin begins to wonder if the clues will lead him anywhere and if Margo actually wants to be found.
Basic plot from Amazon: When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.

Printz Medalist John Green returns with the trademark brilliant wit and heart-stopping emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers.

Why I liked it: The first part of the book is awesome. Margo finds out that one of her boyfriend is cheating on her with one of her best friends so she recruits Quentin, her next door neighbor and childhood friend to help her exact her revenge. The dead fish, spray paint, and Vaseline are all thought out and executed perfectly.

But then Margo disappears, leaving a series of clues for Quentin to find her, only they might not be clues and she doesn't seem to want to be found. There's even the possibility that the clues will lead Quentin to her dead body. While Margo's parents are painted as the "bad guys" for saying enough with her shenanigans and changing their locks, for me Margo is the unattractive character. She gives no thought to her family or friends' feelings when she disappears right before high school graduation. She is selfish and only the detective investigating her disappearance seems to see that.

Like The Abundance of Katherines, also by John Green, this novel depicts wonderful boy friendships. Quentin's two best buds, Ben and Radar, are fabulously nerdy but hilarious and endlessly supportive of Quentin's quest to find Margo, including a highly unrealistic road trip the night of their senior graduation.

Classroom application: It's worth adding to your middle or high school classroom library; your girls, hopeless romantics, and nerdy boys will like it.

The revenge plot at the beginning of the novel would make an interesting writing exercise. Students could choose another character, one from another novel or one of their own creation, and plan out who that character would want to take revenge upon and how they would do it.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Paper Towns for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

For more reading suggestions for students and teachers:



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