Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book Review: Paper Towns

I figured I would still be reading this over the upcoming weekend, but I could barely put the book down. I practically devoured it.

Can I say what a gem this novel is. It's almost a shame it's listed as Young Adult, because there are people I know who would never think to read a YA novel, and I hate the idea of a larger audience missing out on such a great book. Paper Towns has an overarching story involving a girl named Margo that high school senior Quentin has been enamored with since childhood. They shared the experience of happening upon a dead man's body on a playground when they were younger. Fast forward to high school, where the two spend one adventurous night driving around Orlando in Quentin's parent's minivan, implementing Margo's devious plans to get revenge on her ex-boyfriend. Margo keeps dropping vague statements about disappearing and wanting to check out from suburban life, so when she runs away, Quentin isn't sure if it's another stunt or something more serious.

The other side of the story is filled by Quentin among his friends, who for once in a novel, are fully developed, funny, endearing characters. The guy nicknamed Radar is ashamed to bring new friends to his home because his parents have the one of the largest known collections of black Santas. Their other friend has a car on its last legs that is described as being fueled by human hope. I think I liked the relationship progression of Quentin and his friends and classmates even more than the storyline about Margo.

Not only is the dialogue snappy and hilarious, but themes of life and its expectations are very well put together. This is the way a coming-of-age story should be written. Funny, real, not trying too hard, but trying hard enough as not to be easily forgotten. This is the type of book that makes me want to read everything else the author has written.

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