Summary from Goodreads:
“Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life – dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge – he follows.
After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues – and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer Q gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew.”
I’m a bit late jumping onto the John Green fan girl train considering Paper Towns is my first John Green novel and I just read it last week. I typically stick to science fiction and fantasy novels, so the genre of this novel is a bit of a departure for me. However, I really enjoyed it!
The story itself is divided up into three parts: the Night of Revenge wherein Margo Roth Spiegelman enlists her childhood friend and next door neighbor to assist her in a cross-suburbia adventure of revenge. This part of the story is extremely hilarious and exciting; I couldn’t turn the pages quick enough! As thrilling as this portion of the story was, I also found it incredibly nerve wracking. I am terrified of getting into trouble and it makes me nervous when characters in books or TV shows do things that they are not supposed to do.
Breaking into Sea World when acceptance to Duke University is on the line, for example.
The second part of the story, after Margo has disappeared, is not very exciting. It mainly focuses on Q’s obsession with this girl and his mental grappling matches with the clues she leaves behind. While the plot itself is slow in this section, the characters and dialogue are gems. Q’s parents are both therapists and the vast majority of their dialogue consists of them trying to out therapist each other. I found this uncontrollably hilarious! Radar, one of Q’s best friends, suffers from parents who own the largest collection of Black Santas in the world. At one point, they drop everything and rush to out of town because the man with the second largest collection of Black Santas has kicked the bucket and they are determined to purchase his collection.
The last part of the story, The Road Trip, is the flipside to the Night of Revenge and is just as funny and entertaining, if not more so. I love how every person in the Minivan has a specific role: Lacey is the Caretaker, Ben is the person who ALWAYS has to pee, Radar is the Logistics Man, and Q is…well Q is Q.
The Road Trip is even better than the end of the story, because it is random, crazy, witty, and filled with caffeine, ironic clothing, and Metaphorical I Spy.
The entire novel is filled with wonderful little quirks like these that make the characters so relatable! People are weird, and John Green completely captures this. Often times throughout the book, characters will say or think things that completely summarize real life, in a way so many books don’t do these days. One of my favorite devices that Green uses is in depth literary analysis of poetry and intelligent references to important literature.
John Green’s characters in this novel are, overall, incredibly endearing. Q, the main character, is completely infatuated with Margo Roth Spiegelman, who is actually the least sympathetic character (IMHO) in the entire novel. I don’t think that there is enough Margo from Margo’s point of view to make me care very much about her, at least compared to the other characters. Q, Radar, Angela, Lacey, and Ben are much more real to me. However, that is part of the entire point of the novel. Margo is a mystery who is thought of as an idealized girl by everyone in the school, especially Q. By the end of the story I realized, along with Q, that she is actually nothing like the person everyone thinks she is, but is actually very thoughtful, not very self-assured, and struggling to find her place in the world, just like everyone else.
I now plan on reading every one of John Green’s books – after my Great Move South.