I originally had this rated as a 3-star book but have since decided that 2.5 stars better reflects my feelings.
Let me just put it out there that I'm being completely honest in this review, and that despite that, I have nothing against John Green. He is a wonderful author and a great person, but I just have a couple of problems with Paper Towns.
Originally, I had an entire rant included, but I realized afterwards that it wasn't fair to bash the book, John Green, or his writing style just like that. And yet, I couldn't bring myself to remove that rant because it held the reasons why I disliked the book so much. So, I'm going to keep the rant here, but I'm giving you a fair warning that I did dislike the book a lot and it is reflected in my review.
You have been warned, so please, don't attack me or hate me because I didn't like this and was honest about it.
Publication Date: October 1, 2008
Quentin Jacobsen has known Margo Roth Spiegleman his whole life, and he has always admired her from afar. So when she climbs through his room window one night, dressed like a ninja, Q goes with her on a wild, night-time adventure.
The next morning, things begin to change when it becomes clear that Margo has disappeared. Q refuses to believe that she would just leave like that, so when he finds clues that she has left, he realizes one thing: Margo wants him to find her.
Okay, my friends had told me that I would like this a lot better than Looking for Alaska, which I quite strongly disliked. There was a lot of talk about Paper Towns being the better choice if someone didn't like Looking for Alaska, so I thought that it was a pretty good idea to pick this up after finishing Cress.
When I started this, I was intrigued. Then after a chapter or two, I slowly began to dislike the book. Certain characters repulsed me entirely and the way they conducted themselves absolutely disgusted me. I mean, I completely understood that this was supposed to be based in high school, and many high schoolers can be lewd, perverted, and entirely driven by sex and hormones, but this was ridiculous. The fact that two teenage boys were more obsessed with the breasts of a girl and what her body looks and feels like, made me cringe.
Nothing excuses their behavior, not even the "Boys will be boys," excuse that so many people use. This isn't an acceptable excuse, nor should it be considered one. The sexualization and objectification of women completely disgusted me and turned me off from the book. I found two of the male characters to be sexist, driven by their desires for sex, and so freaking perverted that I'll admit that I'm considering putting the book down because of them.
Okay so, something I don't understand about this book is all the swearing. Yes, they're high schoolers. Yes, society has deemed it as something that is acceptable. Yes, it is insanely common. But why is it that everyone makes it out to be something that everyone does? I really don't think that every single high schooler, or person in general, swears that much in casual conversation. I can understand it in times of extreme anger, but honestly, my question is this: Does swearing actually do anything to improve the dialogue of the character or emphasize anything the character is saying? Because personally, I don't think it does anything to "enhance" the dialogue or character, it only serves to irritate me. And I've read Sophie Kinsella's books, which all contain a fair amount of swearing. I've also read Sara Shepard's books, and they contain swearing too. I've actually read a lot of books that contain swearing, but that doesn't make me any more comfortable with how these characters throw the words around like they mean absolutely nothing. This is actually one of my biggest pet peeves in books.
There were parts of the book, near the middle, that I felt were repetitive and I started to get even more bored. But then things started to pick up after page 200. Yes, I remember the page because of the line that changed the direction of the book and made me actually want to find out what was going to happen. Once I hit that point, I became genuinely interested in the book. I started to read faster, and I was so glad when Q finally decided to do something more than pine for her, whine, and simply talk about her.
Once things started changing, I found that I was enjoying my reading experience more. I began to like the plot, but the characters still didn't appeal to me very much. The 200-page mark is also when I started noticing that there was little to no swearing left, which made me really happy. I began looking forward to finding out what would happen in the end, though I thought I already knew how the book was likely to end.
When I came around to the end, I just became bored again. What had picked up now became dull and repetitive. So, I made myself read the last 50 pages to find out what happened. And all I can say is that the ending frustrated me so much! It was like all the character development that finally happened between pages 200-260 suddenly vanished and Q was back to being the same person he was in the beginning. His view of Margo reverted back to what it was when the book started, and he seemed to be completely fine with that. And then there's the fact that the ending made no sense. I mean, yeah, there was closure and everything was wrapped up, but it still didn't make sense. At least not to me.
I know I ranted a lot about this in the beginning, but I genuinely feel like the first 150-200 pages are just not that good. Once I got past that, I began enjoying the plot - until the end came about. The characters didn't - and I don't think they ever will - do anything for me, but at least I started to enjoy the plot and became less frustrated with the whole book before the ending undid the book's redeeming qualities for me. It was also at the 200-page mark that I was glad I didn't DNF the book after the first 80+ pages.
I think something that just put me off the book was when I realized that Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska had really similar plots. And since I didn't like the latter, it affected how I viewed Paper Towns. But something else that put me off the book was the characters. I've only read The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, and Paper Towns by John Green so far, though I do own An Abundance of Katherines and Let it Snow as well. Yet, what I've found is that I don't like the characters from Looking for Alaska or Paper Towns at all, and I'm wondering if it has to do with the protagonist's gender. John Green did a really good job of writing from Hazel Grace's perspective in TFIOS, but in LFA and Paper Towns, he was writing from a guy's perspective and the female love interests were just really crappy. I didn't like the characters in the books that were written from a male protagonist's POV, which I find to be really interesting. Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against male protagonists or male POVs, (I've actually enjoyed many books from a male POV), I just think that it's interesting that the John Green books I've had the most trouble with, have male protagonists and male POVs.
Ben and Radar were the two characters that annoyed the crap out of me. Ben's life purpose seemed to be to get laid and be as perverted and repulsive as possible. He kept making comments about how girls looked and what he'd like to do to them, which I think is completely unacceptable.
Radar had a girlfriend, but that didn't stop him from making lewd comments about Margo and her body. In fact, for someone who was in a relationship, I found him to be just as bad as Ben, because he was sexualizing and fantasizing about another girl while being in a relationship. He and Ben really just made me dislike the book so strongly, and I really wanted to punch both of them repeatedly.
I didn't care much for Quentin, to be entirely honest. I didn't find him that likeable, nor did I really care about what was going on with him. He definitely wasn't as lewd as his friends, but it didn't change how I felt about him.
I don't actually care about Margo either. Like, I don't really have a reason for it, but I just don't care.
2.5 stars. Wouldn't necessarily say that I recommend this, especially if you really didn't like Looking for Alaska, cause you might not like this. If you liked LFA, then go ahead and see what you think of this. OR if you've never read a John Green book before, try this first. It's not his best work (TFIOS is, in my opinion), but it means that you can always read another book and be marveled by how great of a writer he actually is.