Review: ‘Paper Towns’ by John Green

Road trips are a common theme in John Green’s young adult novels, and in Paper Towns, the theme continues. From the start, we see the two main characters – Q and Margo – introduced to us in-depth thanks to them embarking on a revenge-filled road trip. However, the book is so much more than that. When Margo goes missing, Q begins to search for someone he really loves – picking up clues and testing his relationships with his two best friends, Radar and Ben.

On the whole, I quite liked Q – or Quentin – as a narrator. Throughout the novel, he has a clear mindset and determination, but he does joke around with other characters which helps to make him a believable and likeable protagonist. Radar is the nerd we can all relate to, and Ben is the comic relief who bears a striking resemblance to Jay from The Inbetweeners in terms of the language he uses. The problem, however, comes with the character of Margo.

It’s clear from the start that John Green intended for her character to be as enigmatic as possible. It’s necessary in order for there to be a sense of mystery when she disappears, and for Q to try and understand who exactly the love of his life is. Yet – without spoiling the ending – I still felt confused about her towards the novel’s climax. Of course, I had my own expectations when it came to the final chapter of the book, and when these weren’t exactly met, I was obviously disappointed. Whilst the main plot may have been resolved, I didn’t feel as though the other characters and their stories were completely finished yet.
In particular, it was this expectation which was pushing me to finish the novel, however slow I considered it to be. On the road to finding Margo, some of the clues did get repetitive. For a while, there was a period where Q was overlooking the same evidence over and over. I appreciate there needs to be a sense of realism (when does a detective ever find all the clues straight away in real life), but there were a few chapters which did slow the pace of the novel a little.

Paper Towns does have its fair share of humour, action and adventure, but I can’t help but feel like fans of An Abundance of Katherines and The Fault in Our Stars will be disappointed if they come with a certain expectation of what the book is going to be in terms of a romance novel. It’s certainly different, and make of that what you will.

Rating: 2/5

Have you read Paper Towns, or any of John Green’s other books? Which is your favourite? Do you agree with me? Comment below!


14 thoughts on “Review: ‘Paper Towns’ by John Green

  1. Haven’t read this one myself, but the kids at my school like it. I’ve recently read Let It Snow, a humorous “shared world” story by three different writers, including John Green. It’s all about the events that happen on one Christmas night in a small town that is snowed in. Very funny, a romantic comedy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting – perhaps it may just be my reading of it.

      Oh yes, ‘Let It Snow’. I did see that book in Waterstones bookstores a while back, but didn’t pick a copy up. I may just do that now, following your recommendations – thanks.

      Thank you for commenting!


  2. I’ve never gotten round to reading this book or watching the film!
    I’ve got Abundance of Katherines but never finished it…I think I peaked at reading TFIOS!

    I half expected this to be a really good book, I probably won’t bother trying it now haha

    Sarah xo // See The Stars

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m really unsure about whether I would want to watch the film now, which is a shame.

      Oh, you must read ‘An Abundance of Katherines’. Out of all the John Green books I’ve read so far, it is my favourite and I really enjoyed it.

      What did you think of TFiOS?

      Maybe give Paper Towns a try, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t your cup of tea.


    • Oh really? I just found LfA too slow to begin with and lost the motivation about halfway through. That being said, I do know about one section of the book which is rather adolescent, so I know what you mean when you say that.

      Definitely give it a try, but I wasn’t a fan. Have you read ‘An Abundance of Katherines’ by John Green? It’s my favourite book of his.

      Thanks for commenting!


  3. Great review! I totally agree – The “Margo” character was never fully realized (I guess that’s the best way to say it) and that left me pretty disappointed at the end of the book. It just didn’t feel like the story was complete. Still a good read though, so glad to see you at least somewhat enjoyed it 🙂



    • I completely agree. Whilst the main plot was resolved, other sub-plots weren’t. Margo needed to be enigmatic, but not so mysterious that her character’s actions feel unjustified.

      Oh, I rather enjoyed the humour, but I prefer An Abundance of Katherines.

      Thanks for commenting!


  4. Yeah I wasn’t a big of Paper Towns either. Both the book and the movie just didn’t really click with me at all. I loved An Abundance of Katherines though. Something about all the math and the formulas that just kept me so interested.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, I’m glad you liked ‘An Abundance of Katherines’ too. I think you’re right – the maths and equations mixed in with the romance made it a great read.

      I’m surprised the movie didn’t click with you, as it looked intriguing when I saw the trailer. What a shame.

      Thanks for commenting!


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