Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back 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 of the girl he thought he knew.
Last week I wrote that Black Box restored my faith that I hadn't grown too picky to love a novel, after worrying that my expectations had grown too high. This week, I read John Green for the first time.
Oh, Mr. Green. You've gone and raised the bar for me again. Thanks to you, I can't read anything but cookbooks and my new merit badge handbook for grown-up girls for a few days until the glow wears off, because anything that follows this one will make me grumpy with its imperfection.
Paper Towns is funny and thoughtful and adventurous. Quentin, the protagonist, is lovable and funny, if a little mundane (but that's the point). Every last one of the characters is multi-dimensional, delightful and flawed, with a distinctive voice and character arc. The plot is unpredictable. Walt Whitman's Leave of Grass plays a key role, and I loved the scenes where Quentin is trying to figure it out or even read the whole thing. Did I mention it's funny? As in, "Now-what-are-you-laughing-about,-Mom?" funny.
John Green can be found online at Sparks Fly Up. He's published two other novels, which I'll be reading as soon as I can get my hands on them.
The soundtrack: Margo circles the track Walt Whitman's Niece on a Billy Bragg album as a clue for Quentin, but I think the lyrics of California Stars, from the same album, make a better fit for the story.
Further reading: Paper Towns was also reviewed by Nymeth.