Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life–dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge–he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues–and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew. . .”
To be quite honest, I thought this book would take me a bit longer to read. This was one of the books I didn’t mean to buy. I remember reading about it from my fellow Filipino Book Bloggers. And then I saw it in a bookstore. Having gone two months without a book purchase, I decided to buy it. In short, it was an impulse buy. I didn’t even read the back, just picked it up and went to the cashier money in hand.
I don’t regret that decision.
What is there to say about John Green’s Paper Towns? It’s one of the most well-written books I’ve read that deals with high school; most of the characters are realized and well-rounded; and, lastly, it’s very philosophical.
Paper Towns follows Quentin in the last weeks leading up to his high school graduation. If we want to read too much into it, we could say that graduation is a symbol for the rest of his life–a daunting feeling for everyone who has ever graduated. So in the time leading up to the rest of his life, Quentin decides to go on an adventure. Unwillingly? He would like to think so. But somewhere deep within, Quentin wanted to experience his current life differently, before he went off living the rest of it as he used to.
We all have a Margo Roth Spiegelman. She’s that person who can do no wrong–and even when she does, she still looks cool. She’s an aspiration. But as Quentin realizes as he journeys throughout the book, Margo Roth Spiegelman is not a person. She’s an ideal. She’s that person we can admire for everything she does, but can never do ourselves. She’s that person who we can live vicariously through–at a safe distance.
But the problem with Quentin is this: he’s in love with Margo Roth Spiegelman. And though he does start out content with his life, and his placement in the life of Margo Roth Spiegelman, one night of closeness gives him the delusion that there can be more. That he too can be a Margo Roth Spiegelman.
I mentioned, earlier on, that Quentin has a journey. The literal journey happens near the end of the story, but all throughout Quentin is making a journey to self-realization. When he realizes that Margo Roth Spiegelman is missing, he goes on a search for her, following clues that she is wont to leave. But, as I read it, these clues and this journey stand for something bigger. Quentin isn’t so much looking for Margo as he is looking for himself: who he is really, other than the person projected by other people: by his parents, by his friends, and even the bullies who insult him. He goes on a journey that many people, standing at life’s crossroads, would only ponder. What if I had done this? What if I had done that?
Quentin did it. And in a way, his journey can inspire a reader to do it too. Live life as someone you idolize. Live life as you were meant to live it: with no second-guessing, no fear.
In a way, Paper Towns remind me of the play Waiting for Godot. The main difference is, the characters of the play are content with just waiting. No, content is the wrong word. They are stuck with waiting. They feel as if they might miss something if they leave. And that same thing powers Quentin throughout his search for Margo Roth Spiegelman. If he doesn’t search for her, he might miss out on something. And he would have.
He would’ve missed out on a great realization.
Also, we would’ve missed out on a great story.
If you’re looking for a book to read this coming holy week, or whenever, do give Paper Towns a try. I’m sure you won’t regret it. But that’s just my opinion, here are a few more to help you decide:
Teen Book Review
One More Page
Guys Gone Geek
Ace of Books