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