Paper Towns by John Green, 305 pages
Young Adult Challenge
If ever there was a contemporary book that should be studied in high school, Paper Towns would be it. Students on the verge of graduating high school, wondering about their future, about their friends, about truly knowing anyone in the cliquish world of high school would find lots to contemplate. Add in the fact that the characters in the book end up analyzing a Walt Whitman poem for clues to a missing friend, and English teachers in the world will be rejoicing. The hilarious, laugh out-loud road trip at the end is purely a bonus.
John Green writes young adult books that I have enjoyed. I am starting to recognize some characteristics of his books however. Paper Towns seems to be an amalgam of his two other books: Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines. Katherines had the road trip and snarky friends, and Alaska had the 'boy-loving-the-girl-who-is-a-free-spirit' narrator and revenge against the cool kids pranks. All Green's books are rife with literary references, and unstereotypical, outsider teenagers. Plus the humour.
The book was issued with two different covers, representing the different views people have of Margo, the girl who goes missing. Here's a neat discussion John Green has with his former grade eleven self about the cover. A lot of Paper Towns is about perception of people and what we see or need to see. There is also a great use of wikipedia, which is called Omnidictionary, in the book and, in this meta world, exists in real life to discuss the book. Green makes great use of social media and you can find him interacting all over the internet via his blog.