John Green's Paper Towns is a more serious read than the 'crazy high school prank' opening lets on. It asks important questions about how we perceive others and how hard it is to truly know someone when they are still trying to figure themselves out. It is a lovely portrayal of the bittersweet experiences at the end of high school, and one of my favorite depictions of friendship I have read in a long time. Radar and Ben are EXCELLENT wingmen. I would absolutely love to join them on an epic road-trip.
- Originality: 9. LEGIT. The characters seem so real with their quirks and trials and tribulations of senior band-geek boys. Also, (and probably more importantly) how can you not find a book based around a Walt Whitman poem and quirky historical map features original?
- Absurdity: 5. NOW you may think this is a high rating for a contemporary fiction book. And this 5 does not even reflect the fact (that people sometimes complain about with Green's books) that in real life high schoolers don't run around talking like well-read adults or thinking big thoughts. But I am cool with that part of this book. It is a nice fantasy. This absurdity rating goes to the fact that I didn't buy the fact that Margo Roth Spiegelman was so fascinating. She came off a bit selfish and desperate (it made sense that I felt this, since Green has mentioned Into the Wild an influence--I find that character very selfish). MEANWHILE, I LOVED Q. Now I know selfish characters can serve a purpose. But here, I was not convinced that Q would be so dedicated to the "find Margo" cause. This might be a discussion about the person Q hopes to find in Margo versus who she actaully is and why that matters to the book's larger themes.....but this is not class! moving on!
- Level of Paranormal Romance: 3. Q talks about love but this is not that kind of a book (Margo is missing. It is hard to cuddle a missing person).
- Level of Harry-Potterness: 9. This book is witty, smart, and lyrical. It also has literary chops. Symbolism, metaphor, references to great literary works ( it hinges on Whitman's epic poem Leaves of Grass, for goodness sake!) I wish I had read it at a slower speed. If you want to find out more, AKA the meaning of the "great white cow" see Green's "Questions about Paper Towns."