Jamie Felton's Reviews > Paper Towns

Paper Towns by John Green
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it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites

I need to start off with my criticism of John Green:
1) Margo and Quentin are exactly the same people as Colin and Katherine and Miles and Alaska. Quentin/Colin/Miles is this very thoughtful, somewhat nerdy young man who is on the cusp of fucking reaching out and grabbing life by the balls however he can. He is also enamored with Margo/Alaska/Katherine, a girl who is unattainable. She is unpredictable and full of a shimmering charm; she fades oasis-style the closer and closer you try to get. In addition, she feels too much and is never really seen for who she is (but rather, for who everyone wants her to be). Having said this, I am in love with Quentin/Colin/Miles, and Margo/Alaska/Katherine is the girl I want to meet/aspire to someday be so I can't be too critical. Green knows these people and has lit them from inside with realism and dimension.
2) There were moments (albeit far fewer than in his previous books) where I felt like...okay, this is maybe a teensy bit contrived. A little bit too perfectly quirky. I cannot totally relate or believe in a guy who has invented a mathematical formula calculating the probability that the next Katherine he dates will dump him. I think it's a creative premise that makes me want to read the book and is extremely well-executed, but if I don't believe in someone, I'm not going to fully feel for them or understand them. This prevents me from enjoying the book as much as I do Margaret Atwood, etc. Maybe this doesn't bother anyone else, but it bothers me, and I just can't put the guy up on a pedestal.
However, however, I fucking loved this book. And I'm not going to summarize it. It was practically perfect and ridiculously engrossing and extremely fascinating (so much so that my adverb use has increased exponentially). If I even tried to give a synopsis, it would trivialize it too much. Green uses Leaves of Grass in a way that made me want to re-read it (after having suffered through it in high school) and potentially graffiti it all over the United States because: we. have. it. so. wrong. here. (I love Green's use of periods). Part of why I loved it is for selfish reasons. Margo's struggles are my own, and her hates are my hates. In Quentin deciphering Margo, it helped me realize a lot of things about myself; this is something that would be valuable to anyone who needs to become the wounded man.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
June 3, 2008 – Shelved
June 3, 2008 – Shelved as: favorites

Comments Showing 1-50 of 96 (96 new)

message 1: by Celestasaurus (last edited Feb 16, 2009 04:46PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Celestasaurus I noticed that! That Alaska and Margo were strangely similar, as was Q and Miles. I mean, sure there were some differences, like Miles love for last words or Alaska's unpredictability or Margo's mysteries. But really? Not much of a difference.

And yet, I still love it. I still couldn't put it down. And I still rated them both 5 stars.

Buhronsteiin i could not agree more! i haven't read an abundance of katherines yet, but i did read looking for alaska and i immediately noticed that Margo and Alaska were the same, unattainable, eccentric, beautiful character and pudge and Q were the same nerdy outcasts that only have access to a social life through these unique girls. i really love both books, looking for alaska is one of my favorite of all time, but I would definitely like to see an intriguing male character in a John Green book

message 3: by Liz (new) - rated it 5 stars

Liz I couldn't have said it better. I've read and loved all three books, despite noticing that the characters were pretty much the same, and I think it's simply because they are so well written.

John Green's brand of humor is just fantastic, and I love his ability to weave in tension and sorrow without dragging the entire story into a dark pit of depression.

message 4: by Ari (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ari You completely missed the insight of John Green's book Paper Towns. If you haven't noticed, the book's major theme is that a person is nothing more than a person, so putting them on a pedestal is dangerous. I know that you haven't because you judged that Colin was not worthy to be put up on a pedestal in your review. However, you are right; you loved the book for selfish reasons: mainly that you identified with Margo Roth Spigelman. But in a review, why start by bagging on the author? Your rebuke was so egoistic. Please get over yourself.

message 5: by Kat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kat McKenna I agree with you 110%. John Green's writing is far from perfect and his characters are all very similar, but the different stories he spins with them are absolutely wonderful and leave me contemplating how I act and think. I love Green's books so much.

message 6: by Lyle (new)

Lyle Gelles Ari wrote: "You completely missed the insight of John Green's book Paper Towns. If you haven't noticed, the book's major theme is that a person is nothing more than a person, so putting them on a pedestal is ..."

Fuck you Ari, your stuck up bitch. What, you think you're some God because John Green can't come up with more original characters? And no she didn't miss the Goddamn point, you were just to busy trying to look smart.

Dumb cunt.

message 7: by Ben (new) - added it

Ben I haven't read any of his other books but by the synopsises of his other books did sound extremely similar to Paper Towns. Still loved Paper Towns!

Brenna Latz I completely agree! All of his characters seem to have the exact same personalities, even if they portray them in slightly different ways.

Sharon Morse I dunno. That's his thing. Smart/ironic genius types in love with beautiful/mysterious girls. It works for him. Doesn't really bother me so much. I'm too busy laughing and/or getting my heart strings tugged at.

message 10: by Mydecember (new)

Mydecember Definitely a good observation. Although, we actually don't see much of Katherine; just snippets of her through the memories of Colin. All we know of her is that she has BECOME unattainable. Aside from that little bit, we know not if she is the free-spirit, insightful and spontaneous girl that Green usually has in his novels. That's more so Lindsey Lee Wells, who is only unattainable because a) Colin is too blinded by his break-up to even notice her too much and b) she has a boyfriend. She teaches him how to use a gun, she introduces him to her cave, she not only shows interest in his intelligence but shares some as well.

Flavia Kocibelli I agree with number one! I totally thought the same thing!!!

Caroline I did notice the relationships in the book are almost identical..

message 13: by Meli (new) - rated it 5 stars

Meli They are similar, but I feel that Margo and Q are MUCH better developed than Miles and Alaska. (And Colin has a lot of quirky qualities that separate him from the other two)

Liese-l Paper Towns was actually a rewrite of Looking For Alaska. So that's why the characters are pretty much identical.

Sally Actually I think Katherine is very different from Margo and Alaska. Otherwise I completely agree with your review.

Jordan I personally think the characters' descriptions are almost identical for different reasons, but I have one major reason. Most teenage women prefer reading John Green's novels. I'm not saying that men don't, it's just that according to men's preference in books, Green has the majority of female readers. My point is that every single female compared themselves and has come to the point where they find similarities and differences between herself and the main feminine character. John Green's description of the feminine character from the male, or "lover's" eyes, is exactly how the the feminine reader wants a man to look at her. From my experience of reading Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns, Margo and Alaska share identical features that a woman would dream of having. I think John Green's point is that every woman has their own unique traits that not everybody has. Notice how Alaska and Margo have the same exact traits as each other. To be honest, I don't think they're "original." His point is that we all have independent and unique traits that make us, us. Not all of us can have the same features and traits as Margo and Alaska, but every single one of us is just as beautiful and unique as they are.

message 17: by Maia (new) - rated it 5 stars

Maia I agree that the characters are the same. I have not read AAoK but I am assuming they will be the same.
Even though The Perks of Being a Wallflower is not by John Green, I thought that Pudge/Q and Alaska/Margo were the same as Charlie and Sam.
I just wanted to point that out.
I really liked your review by the way.

message 18: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen It should be mentioned that Radar and Ben add an awesome dimension of teenage authenticity and humor....those were my favorite characters because their voices and personalities made me laugh out loud.

Gareth Harding i lovd how everyone ignored lyle the troll. An abundance of katherine's is my favorite novel of his i also love the ending. Lindsay and Colin are my John Green otp.Early days to comment on this as i'm only on 58.

Maggie I noticed that! They do seem to be so much alike. It's like reading about characters with the similar personalities but in a different situation and with a different story. So, it doesn't bother me now that I think about it, but is very interesting. I guess it's just his style of writing.

message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Wrong. So wrong. You're so ignorant, it actually pains me. These are very complex characters, with somewhat similar situations (much like real life, huh?) Quentin is not Colin (a freaking genius) Margo is not Alaska (Margo and Alaska both fit the manic pixie dream girl, right? THAT'S THE POINT. John Green bashes that manic pixie dream girl to bits in his novels, that's the whole point! And, if you don't see that, you need to reread the book.)

Josephine Omg!!! I totally noticed that!!! I'm so glad it's not only me who noticed that

message 23: by Manna (new)

Manna Zelealem I. Love. John. Green. Since I bawled like a baby over The Fault In Our Stars, John Green has been my favorite author. I can't help but agree with you about the similarities between Quentin, Colin, & Miles and Margo, Alaska, & Katherine. I fell in love with all of these books; I don't see why anyone wouldn't. The thing about Quentin/Colin/Miles and Margo/Alaska/Katherine is that they are all relatable. The quiet boy in my German class is Quentin/Colin/Miles. The outspoken, untouchable girl who sits at the next lunch table is Margo/Alaska/Katherine. I think that might have been intentional on John Green's part. It's just an incredible group of characters with intense similarities who make it a lot easier to relate to them. I love what you said about Leaves of Grass, about wanting to "potentially graffiti it all over the United States because: we. have. it. so. wrong. here."

message 24: by Zoey (new) - added it

Zoey As true as your first argument was I have to point out that Katherine wasn't the main love interest in An Abundance of Katerines

message 25: by Bethany (new)

Bethany I'm reading this book now and I actually read the name 'Margo' as 'Alaska', such similar personas

message 26: by Bethany (new)

Bethany *Once* ;)

message 27: by Iona (new) - rated it 3 stars

Iona Margo/Alaska/Katherine (especially Katherine) are not the same, and your notice of this shows you have yet to delve deep enough into these characters to make that decision. Read the books again, look at the way the characters speak and you will realise they are totally different. However, Q/Colin/Miles are similar, and I somehow feel that this is John Green putting himself inside the story. I've often noticed when I write that one of the characters somehow identifies with me and I think it is easier to write like that. However I think his girl characters succeed in being different, and you don't pay enough attention.

message 28: by Bethany (new)

Bethany At first however Margo acts similar to Alaska but further Into the book Quentin realises that she's isn't who she appears to be. She isn't the same girl who he has lusted over.

message 29: by Beatriz (new) - added it

Beatriz Rey Rubio I do agree with the similarities of the characters and also I think that it's just his way of writing, he likes those kinds of people, characters, similarities.

Josephine I like that

message 31: by Luz (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luz Ibarra I agree with this so much .

Nisha S. I agree. I would like to see an intriguing male character in one of his books. Augustus in TFIOS is probably the closest. John's writing is amazing and his books never let you down, but the idea is sort of repeated a little too much than it should (nerdy boy meets amazing girl who shows him life).

Nicole Totally all fact.

message 34: by Nicole (new) - added it

Nicole Andridge The reason they are so similar is because Green started writing this book with the intention of it being Looking for Alaska. It took a different turn and ended up as Paper Towns. (Green said this in a video interview I watched a few months ago)

message 35: by Ava (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ava Every author has a style. It's not uncommon for a lot of authors to have the same types of characters.

Jason Moore Fairly certain you are my soulmate. My name is Jason. Nice to meet you.

Marion Willingham Yaaaaaas!

Ellie Thomas I think it's quite fascinating how John Greens characters are similar but all have a twist with how he uses them in his books, it's very different from most authors :)

message 39: by Iona (new) - rated it 3 stars

Iona Exactly! Thank you.

Bunny Roberts I'm kind of pissed that you spoiled his other books in your review without warning

message 41: by Seth (new)

Seth I think it's crazy and awesome that I can hear a girl's perspective on Paper Towns and that regardless of at whom we looked for the "love interest" role and the "relatable character" role, the book had the same profound effect.

message 42: by Ruby (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruby Ohmigod reviews like yours want me to force Goodreads to make a second like button, or maybe a love button (yeah!), because I couldn't help but click it in the middle of reading your review, and then after finishing it, I wanted so badly to click it again, but THAT DOESN'T WORK. NOOO. But, thank you. For being such an amazing reviewer.

message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

I agree very much with your review and will say that it matches my experience. You're left with the character trying to be quirky and the same message on how you will always feel that existential pain and you hope to see the characters lose that pain and become happy but don't.

Maryam That exactly what I hate about this book , it's identical to LFA

message 45: by Leah (new)

Leah I have only read TFIOS, and I was thinking about reading Paper Towns and An abundance of Katherines, but I've read those comments and people say the characters are the same or very similar, so... do you guys recommend them anyway?

Eleanor I disagree and agree to the similarity between characters. I disagree because I do not think Alaska and Margo are that similar. Yes, they are both quite rebellious and not the conventional girl, but they both represent different things in each book. However, I do agree in a way because they are the same in relation to Miles and Quentin. But, I thoroughly enjoyed both books, so why is it an issue that that they may share some similarities?

Sydney I found paper towns a very fascinating story. It had so much depth to it that's am not used to. I wish that we would read this at school so I could understand it better with the poetry and philosophical writing. The paper towns and the cracking of a person and the blades of grass. i think that if I had better understanding of what it all meant I would have enjoyed it even more. Which is pretty difficult to do because I loved it. I especially enjoyed hearing their opinions about the differences between a person and who we think a person is. Overall great story

Phone Thant Ko you just said what i have in mind xD

tessa While I agree that Miles and Quentin and Alaska and Margo are quite similar, neither Colin nor Katherine(which one? There's no important character in the book called Kathrine. Just a lot of support characters. Have you read the book?!) have a lot in common with them. I actually think that was what John was going for , the whole point behind Paper Towns to me was that People are nothing incredibly incredible and immoral, untouchable individuals , even if they(like Margo and Alaska) try really hard. People are just people and while we all are different we're still kind of the same. People are just People.

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