Genre: Young Adult, Mystery
Summary: Paper Towns is narrated in first person by Quentin “Q” Jacobsen and begins in a subdivision of Orlando known as Jefferson Park. We begin with Quentin as a child, hanging out with his neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman. The two children are going to the park when they come across the corpse of a man who had committed suicide. We suddenly jump forward to high school, where Margo and Quentin are still neighbors, but have grown apart. That night, Margo shows up at Quentin’s window dressed in all black with black face paint and convinces him to sneak out to help her with a mission. Turns out, Margo needs Quentin to drive the getaway car while Margo makes stops on her mission to get revenge on anyone she feels has wronged her. The first stop is Margo’s ex-boyfriend Jase, and the girl he was cheating on Margo with, Becca. Quentin calls Becca’s house and tells her parents that Jase is up in Becca’s room having sex with her right now, and Jase jumps out of the window and runs down the street naked while Quentin snaps a photo. Margo sneaks into Becca’s room and graffiti’s a blue “M” on her wall, and leaves a dead catfish in the room. The next stop is a girl named Karin who was the one who told Margo about her cheating boyfriend, and therefore is given a bouquet of flowers. Then, Margo leaves a blue “M” and a dead catfish at both Jase’s house and her friend Lacey’s, whom she believed was never a very good friend to her. Margo and Quentin sneak into the SunTrust bank at 3:15 a.m. and they sit on one of the higher floors discussing life.Margo calls Orlando a “paper town” because it is fake and filled with fake people. Then Margo asks Quentin who he wants to get revenge on, and he choose the high school bully, Chuck. Margo and Q sneak into his house and remove one of his eyebrows and put Vaseline on all the door handles in his house. Then they end their night by sneaking into SeaWorld. The next day at school, Margo doesn’t show up, and after she is missing for three days, Quentin begins to worry. Quentin, along with his friends Ben, Radar and Lacey, begins to search for her and believes that Margo left him clues that only he can understand to find her. Using highlighted portions of“A Song of Myself” in Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass found in Margo’s room, they find a piece of paper with an address on it. The address leads the team to an abandoned mini mall in Christmas, Florida where there is evidence that Margo was there. In addition there is a spray painted message on the wall that says “You will go to the paper towns and you will never come back” causing Quentin to believe that they will find Margo’s body and she is dead. However, he then believes that Margo is hiding in one of the subdivisions of Orlando and continues his search. Using a map they found in her room earlier, they make a connection that Margo is in Roscoe, New York. They find her in a run down barn, but Margo is not happy to see them and yells at them saying that she left no clues for them to find her. Quentin then believes that he made up an image of Margo in his mind that was fake, and the two begin to argue. Quentin then realizes it was unfair for him to expect her to be more than just a human being, and they share a brief kiss before they head their separate ways.
Thoughts: Although I enjoyed the book, there were moments that made me frustrated. In the beginning, I absolutely loved Margo and thought she was spunky and unique and full of life. When they began their mission to find her, I genuinely believed that she had left clues for them, however ridiculous the “clues” may be. I guess you could tell something was up when the boys an Lacey made such drastic connections between things they found and where Margo might be. What made me the most mad was how angry Margo got at innocent little Quentin after they found her. I would’ve preferred her to be in shock or a bit frazzled, but she was downright mean. I also wish Margo went back to Orlando with Quentin so that they could start up a friendship or romance of some sort, but I guess that was the point of the ending. Quentin was in love with a girl he imagined and not Margo Roth Spiegelman the actual human being. It was a fun and quick read which I always appreciate, and the content was lighter and definitely in the young adult category.
“That’s always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they’re pretty. It’s like picking your breakfeast cereals based on color instead of taste.”
“The town was paper, but the memories were not.”
“I’m starting to realize that people lack good mirrors. It’s so hard for anyone to show us how we look, & so hard for us to show anyone how we feel.”
“I spy with my little eye a great story.”