John Green is an incredible human being. Not only is he an absolute fan-boy but he is also an inspirational novelist. His books are remarkable for they carry a unique atmosphere of the profoundly moving lives of the seemingly ordinary teenage folk. It may seem that young adult novels that do not feature magical beings are condemned to be simple and boring, ‘Paper Towns’ scratches that assumption straight off the list with a permanent black marker. So don’t be afraid, you will most definitely not be disappointed.
It is an interesting observation that the title of the book has its own personal meaning. It is as a kind of an introduction to the story and the main problem. The term paper town suggests a place where everything is lacking in depth, a superficial town with 2 dimensional beings. A town so fake that looked at from a distance doesn’t seem real at all. With all the same houses and all the same streets it looks as if it’s built out of legos or paper. It makes you wonder whether the people living there are as shallow and plastic as everything else that surrounds them. And it comes to mind that maybe in the depths of such an uninteresting and fragile place there might be people who want to escape from the tedious and repetitive routine of everyday life.
For Quentin Jacobsen living a mundane and ordinary life is quite all right. He even finds comfort in knowing that the next day will bring him the same as the last. He sounds like a quite boring protagonist but in reality he has hidden potential which is a secret even for him. When his childhood love, the girl he has spent all his years thinking about, Margo Roth Spiegelman cracks open his window, dressed as a ninja, promising him the night of his life, Q has no other choice but to follow her. And in this very night he leaves his comfort zone and becomes someone extraordinary. He breaks all the boundaries set in his moral system and takes a deep breath of the fresh air of freedom. But the story is never that simple.
’Paper Towns’ is divided into three parts and each marks a different stage of the course of the plot. Each bit has its own heading which is a specific metaphor frequently used throughout the book:
Part one: The Strings, Part two: The Grass, Part three: The Vessel. Each individual chapter within these sections is labeled with a number. Additionally, the third part of the novel is divided into smaller sections by the hour.
All the metaphors used have a symbolic meaning that is associated with life. One of the main themes of the novel is life after school. As seniors, the main characters are facing the end of school, the end of childhood, and the end of an era. They are about to be thrown in the real world where they have the choice, it is their voice that will utter the words which will shape their future. They have to plan out the first steps they want to make as adults and how they will influence their life. Should they stay in the paper town and never change, should they pursue a career or should they give it all up and give in to experiencing and traveling?
But the question is not only about the path they will take which might lead them to happiness. The meaning of life and its worth are put on the table and discussed. Why sometimes a fatal exit is chosen in front of a difficult solution. Life is sacred and vulnerable and can not be easily taken away with a simple flick of a knife when there are so many opportunities to be explored, so many places to be, so many new and unknown things to be tried. Not only that but the existence of one affects the existence of many and every choice is a drop in the still surface of lake which makes ripples. And those ripples can never be foreseen and their power is unlimited. This should always be taken into account for it is in human nature to be selfish and it is often forgotten that our actions provoke a reaction. It’s even explained in the laws of physics which means that it is true.
As a good hufflepuff, John Green shares his talent with the world and gives us the most precious and treasured gifts of all – breathtaking novels. If you’re wondering what to read that will keep you on edge and take you on a rollercoaster even more exciting than the one in the amusement park, well, look no further. ‘Paper Towns’ is the book four you.