Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Release Date: September 22, 2009
Publisher: Speak (Penguin imprint)
In lieu of a traditional review, this post will be updated as I read it on November 29, 2011. I'll list the time, what page I'm on, and any interesting or weird things I come across. Hope you enjoy. :) (Note that all times are PST.)
6:00 AM: Just an auto post so it's actually up on the blog. This isn't necessarily an update as it is me planning ahead.
11:20 AM: Finally starting to read Paper Towns, which will be easier considering I finished NaNoWriMo late last night/really early this morning. :) Updates to come and will include times and page numbers (I have the paperback copy) and possible spoilers.
So, I'm reading Paper Towns because, after all the excitement over John Green's next book out in January, which sounds amazing, and after watching loads of Vlogbrothers videos, which are so smart and funny, I figured I needed to read more by him besides Will Grayson, Will Grayson (I really enjoyed it, my review is here). I find it amusing that I'm doing this because I used to have a copy of Looking for Alaska but couldn't get into it. Maybe it was too intellectual and complicated for me back then. ;)
11:31 AM: It feels like I'm reading this for my degree, which I'm not, I have one, but still. It makes the reading matter more, makes it feel more powerful and complicated than just reading for fun. Which this is.
11:58 AM: Page 31. Margo is rather unique, or she is at least in Q's eyes since they're the only ones we get to look through. I think what I'm most curious about with this book is what the journey is, what the mystery is, where Margo goes and what Q has to do to figure it out. Like Sherlock or Miss Marple or Poirot, except it's the 21st century in Florida and they're teenagers. With a minivan.
The biggest question I have right now is the one in bold red letters on the back cover of my copy: Who is the real Margo? Because all we've got in these first 30 pages is Q's romanticized perception of her and obsession with her. I'm wary of this question being answered in one of those philosophical ways that has both no answer and multiple answers.
12:26 PM: Page 68. I am so glad I never knew anyone in high school like Margo and never pissed anyone off this much. Way to write a girl getting some awesome revenge on people, John Green. ;) This book feels like a movie, like lots of other books I've read this year (see Shatter Me and The Space Between and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and Daughter of Smoke & Bone). Everything is so visual, which only adds to the realism.
2:22 PM: Page 103. And here comes the different perspectives of the odd creature that is Margo Roth Spiegelman. Q still thinks she amazing, if a little eccentric, but her parents can't see her that way. To them, she's a sickness, a massive weight pulling them down because she doesn't see the world like they do (or how they'd prefer her to see it). It's all about them, what she's done to them, how she's hurt them, how they need to worry about their other kid so they don't end up with another Margo. Aren't parents supposed to love their children unconditionally and without reason or question? Apparently not.
2:35 PM: Page 109. Possibly a bit of a tangent but I started thinking. I'm curious as to how many people read this book and then started watching Vlogbrothers videos, and how many people watched the videos and then read this book. Either way, another layer is added onto the second. Like you were lucky enough to learn the inside jokes and the secrets, like we're all in a secret but not so secret club that started with two brothers vlogging for a year instead of texting or e-mailing. It's like magic, only it's real.
3:22 PM: Page 123. Oh, Walt Whitman. I don't miss studying you.
I'm also outrageously intrigued with how Margo's mind works, like she's on tangents of tangents of tangents. It's seeing the world differently but it's mind-blowing. I would demand to be her friend, but only if she came with some kind of owner's manual. ;)
3:31 PM: Page 141. "I don't know who she is anymore, or who she was, but I need to find her." It's so obvious, but it means so much more than what's on the surface. But I feel like I'm nowhere near smart enough or skilled enough to understand. Or maybe I'm not supposed to. Not now, not yet.
3:58 PM: Page 157. I'm wondering if this book is too cerebral for me. Or if I need to treat it like a Virginia Woolf novel. A professor once told me that to read the book (I think it was Jacob's Room) you had to read the book. At least John Green doesn't write like Virginia Woolf. Thank you, John Green, for not writing like Virgina Woolf.
4:21 PM: Page 198. "' The longer I do my job,' [Q's dad] said, 'the more I realize that humans lack good mirrors. It's so hard for anyone to show us how we look, and so hard for us to show anyone how we feel.'" It also applies to ourselves. As we wonder who the real Margo is, I wonder who the real me is.
Mirrors are dangerous. They show us what we want to see, but they show us what we don't want to see. They highlight our flaws, making us think they're our strengths, and they highlight our strengths as flaws (especially those magnifying ones). I wonder if this is why I don't have a mirror in the room I'm in as I live blog. Maybe I don't want to see myself. Maybe I don't need to because somehow I already know what's there.
There's a whole master's thesis right there: mirrors in literature (popular or classic) and what they both reveal and conceal. If you use this idea, let me know. ;)
4:44 PM: Page 243. Now comes the road trip. I don't like saying this, but I'm glad I got past the spots in the middle that made this book feel too smart for me. Whitman has a way of bringing you down unless you've been taught how to read it. I barely remember studying him in university.
5:08 PM: The end. I'm sort of at a loss for words.
I think, in the end, we can study the people around us forever and ever, we can learn everything about them, we can follow them across the world and to parts unknown, but we'll never know what's at the heart of them. We see what we see, what they let us see, what our eyes are capable of seeing and our ears capable of hearing and our fingers capable of touching, but it's the smallest piece of a massive puzzle. People are weird and complicated and strange and different and annoying, they're glorious and wonderful and unique and fascinating. And one big hot mess.
So, yeah. Q went on this journey to discover the real Margo, and he discovered the real Margo that only he could see, just like Ben and Radar and Lacey discovered the real Margo that they could see. There's real and there's real. I like the covers for the hardcover version of this book, the smiling yellow girl and the sad blue girl. It makes me wonder if there was one book out there with a totally different cover with the real Margo on it and they found the real Margo.
Only it wasn't the real Margo.
Maybe we're the real Margo.
Maybe I'm not at a loss for words.
5:19 PM: Thank you for this book, John Green. :)