BOOK REVIEW: Paper Towns by John Green

I decided to read Paper Towns because I saw the film trailer and thought it looked kind of intriguing. Despite being in my thirty-fifth year of existence I have always enjoyed a bit of Young Adult fiction as well as the occasional teen movie so the premise seemed like it had some merits. Generally when it comes to film adaptations I quite like to have read the book in advance so I thought why not check it out? I will be upfront and say that I didn’t like The Fault in Our Stars, which is by the same author, one bit but I don’t think you can judge an author by just one book so I decided not to let it put me off.

Quentin has lived next door to Margo Roth Spiegelman his whole life. While Quentin is a bit of a nobody Margo is the queen of their highschool. Beautiful, popular and achingly cool, she is the centre of all of Quentin’s day dreams despite the fact that they have barely spoken since they were children. A few weeks before their finals Margo appears at Quentin’s window one night and takes him on a crazy adventure before depositing him back home in the early hours of the morning. He believes this will be a turning point in their relationship but in the morning Margo has vanished… and not for the first time.

Quentin soon starts to believe that Margo has left him a series of clues and that she wants him to come and find her, dead or a live. But who is Margo really? Does Quentin really know her at all? Together with his friends he’ll have to go on a journey that will make him question everything he believes about life, himself and what the future has in store for him.

I’m not going to beat around the bush here. I didn’t like this anymore than The Fault in Our Stars. Maybe it’s because I’m almost twenty years older than any of the characters and I can’t appreciate the struggles of growing up anymore but I found them all painfully annoying. I couldn’t see why Quentin was so fascinated with Margo or why Margo was so destructive or why Quentin was such a complete bore. Throughout the book it felt like Green was trying to be quirky and hip for the sake of it which just came across as a bit desperate and sad to me. I just wanted everyone to get over themselves. And the subplot where Margo’s uber-popular friend, Lacey falls for Quentin’s dorky friend who refers to women as “honeybunnies” was the worst kind of wish fulfillment nonsense.

There were some things I liked though. Well one thing really. I thought the final road trip the group went on was really fun and funny but everything else leading up to it was really tedious.

I think I need to accept that John Green probably isn’t for me. Something I maybe should have accepted based on my age anyway. Hopefully like The Fault in Our Stars the movie will be a lot better than the book.



  1. You and me….I’m reading Paper Towns right now and I wasn’t a huge fan of TFIOS. I think I’m giving up on John Green after this one. Its weird because usually I like YA novels but this one isn’t really working for me so far (I have less than 100 pages to finish it).

    1. abbiosbiston

      Happy to spoil the very lame ending if you can’t be bothered to read anymore about Margo Roth Speigeltwat…

      1. I’m sure I’ll finish it today while I’m lining up for Fantasia showing. I’ve heard that its not a great ending but I have one particular ending in my head that if it happens, I might have a strong desire to burn it…

        1. abbiosbiston

          Let me know what you think.

          1. Ill be definitely reviewing it.

  2. I know a book you could review…😉

    I like John Green’s novels. They’re definitely completely beyond reality, but that’s why I enjoy them. But I can see every point you made. To each his own, right? I don’t see the film version of Paper Towns working out as well as TFIOS, though.

    1. abbiosbiston

      Oh absolutely! I know I am in the minority because his books are absolute best sellers. I think I have just forgotten what it’s like to be a teenager.

      1. YA is a guilty pleasure of mine. I think I’m regressing. Midlife crisis, maybe?

  3. Emilie

    I agree with you about John Green – I find him vastly overrated. I personally am of the opinion that he always tries a bit too hard to adress the sensitive side of his readers. You know what I mean? Like the two cancer teens who fall in love, or like you said the poor unpopular teenager who falls in love with a destructive popular kid. I find his books to be on cheesier side…

    I didn’t read Paper Towns but I read Looking for Alaska and TFIOS. Both were the same to me!
    Anyways, I completely agree with you about John Green.

    1. abbiosbiston

      I am glad it’s not just me. I do think he’s emotionally manipulative and the minute you feel that while you’re reading it’s not working.

  4. I remember when he came out with ‘Looking for Alaska’ and I liked it. I confess I haven’t read his others and I probably won’t. My relationship with John Greene extends in another way. The man does a series of history videos that are brilliant for me as a teacher. If you go to youtube and look up ‘crash course’ you will no doubt see his many videos about U.S. and World History. Many history teachers across the U.S. use him in the classroom for reviews, clarification, etc. Anyway, I admire him very much.
    Great review, Abbi. 🙂

    1. abbiosbiston

      Those videos sound really interesting. I might very well go and have a look. I don’t know much about US history. I think his books have a lot of fans but they just don’t really speak to me in the way they might have when I was 15 years younger!

      1. I hear you! He’s about your age, so I’m wondering if he still does, too?

  5. People are so obsessed with the Fault in our Starts but it just doesn’t seem like my cup of tea (I haven’t read it though). Maybe we need more serious books? Last book I read was The Women’s Room and it was fantastic.

  6. Nice review, Abbi. I did like The Fault In Our Stars book but I pretty much hated this one!! I’m really not bothered about the movie now…. Horrible characters!

    1. abbiosbiston

      I have to admit that I am not as excited for the movie as I was.

  7. Interesting! Paper Town is still on my to-read-list and it’s really refreshing to finally hear an opinion that’s not so much in love with it.

    1. abbiosbiston

      I’d love to hear what you think of it when you get to it.

  8. I admit that I enjoy John Green’s work for the most part, but this book… meh. I was no fan of it. Definitely my least appreciated book from him.

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