Paper Towns was written by John Green. Do you feel like maybe you know that name? You probably do. One of his books A Fault in Our Stars was released this summer and was a huge hit at the box office. I haven’t read it.
When I first saw the title Paper Towns I got a picture in my head of those dioramas we often made in grade school. You know, the ones that you made in a shoe box with construction paper, cardboard, and crappy little toys you found at the bottom of the toy box. However, the cover picture is of a thumb tack in a map. I was intrigued.
Do you know what a paper town is? I didn’t. I thought it was just a title, I had no idea it was a real thing. It has to do with cartography. Yes, map making. I know, you knew that.
A paper town is a town that doesn’t actually exist. Mapmakers will put a town in the middle of nowhere as a way to protect against copyright infringement. If this town started showing up on maps not produced by them, they would know that someone was copying their work. Supposedly, this still goes on. I find this really interesting. But, I’m a bit of a nerd.
Anyway, we don’t actually learn the true meaning of paper towns until near the end of the book. There are many other assumptions made about what a paper town is throughout the story.
Although, the climax occurs in a paper town (yes, it doesn’t really exist), the story isn’t about the paper town specifically. It is about Margo Roth Spiegelman, a senior in high school, who disappears several weeks before graduation after taking her next door neighbor (Quentin) on a nighttime adventure where they take revenge on a cheating boyfriend, a back-stabbing best friend, and a childhood bully, after which they break into Seaworld (they live in Orlando). Yes, I’m a little in love with her too.
They next day Margo doesn’t show up at school to see the results of her evening’s work. She’s gone. This isn’t unusual for her, but unlike the previous times, she doesn’t come back. Quentin and a group of friends take on the task of tracking her down while preparing for finals and band performances. Most of his friends are fascinating and funny, if a bit on the geek side of things. Personally, I love geeks.
I really liked this book, and I think that if I had read it as a 15 year old, I would have really loved it. Remember that authors of children’s and adolescent literature write for an audience that is usually younger than their main characters. So, an 18 year old character will target 15 – 17 year olds. An 8 year-old character will target 5-7 year olds and so on.
This book was good in that it dealt with some interesting and common adolescent issues like graduation, change, parents, and relationships in a realistic way. Sex is mentioned and talked about in this book, but it doesn’t get out of hand. I know some parents are concerned about these things. Also, there wasn’t much in the way of ‘language’, if you know what I mean. However, it seems that Green does have some banned books. More power to him. Based on Paper Towns I can’t imagine why.
This post has already gotten a little long for me, so I will end it here by saying, I have every intention of reading a few more John Green novels. Especially the banned ones;)